I'M NOT SURPRISED that The Mechanic, the latest attempt to make Jason Statham a bankable action star, is doughy, lifeless glop, but why does it have to link itself to Michael Winner's 1972 Charles Bronson flick of the same name? Statham ain't Bronson, and director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) ain't Michael Winner.

In the original Mechanic, a 15-minute-long, dialogue-free sequence taught us that Bronson's character, Bishop, was an assassin—we figure it out as Bishop meticulously schemes, then finally executes his first victim using both a gas leak and a well-placed bullet. In the new The Mechanic, Bishop (now played by Statham) magically appears in a Colombian cartel boss' swimming pool, drowns him, then allays the boss' security guards by puppeting the corpse in a crawl stroke, à la Weekend at Bernie's. Then Statham's voiceover tells you that (A) he's an assassin, and (B) the word "assassin" means someone who kills people and never cries.

Yes, this movie thinks you are dumb. After the introduction, Bishop's mentor/best bud/exposition device (Donald Sutherland) wheels in long enough to tell the audience that not only is Bishop the best assassin, like, ever, but also, Bishop's only problem is he "needs companionship." Next thing you know, Bishop has been ordered by his shifty-eyed boss to take Sutherland out. Bummer! Enter Ben Foster as Sutherland's son/Statham's new protégé—he's a weasely little shit who tags along on missions to sometimes kick ass and sometimes royally fuck things up.

Will Foster discover who really offed his dad? Was Bishop right to trust his slippery boss and kill Sutherland's character, the man he trusted above all? Will Foster continue to suck butt and be unlikeable? If you can't guess those answers, then you deserve a stupid movie like The Mechanic. But at least watch the original. It's better.