Of all the tough guy roles played by Charles Bronson for over four decades, "The Mechanic" is a safe bet for a movie that really captures his on-screen persona. Michael Winner's 1972 winner not only sketches Bronson out as a quiet man but also presents us with deep motivations for his character.
"The Mechanic" is one of Michael Winner's best efforts as an action-director, only falling a little short of "Death Wish", which would be his biggest achievement. But, the film is a neat effort for its time mixing great action sequences with good character development.
Based on the story by Lewis John Carlino, Bronson plays Arthur Bishop, a hit-man in California who is the best in his career. "The Killer of Killers"! Bishop, even hitting old age, is still the best at what he does, but his work as a cold-hearted assassin start to hit him and after a hit on a good-friend Henry McKenna, he suffers a breakdown and realizes a back-up wouldn't be so bad. He then discovers a protégé in Steve McKenna (Henry's twenty-ish year old son) strangely interested in Bishop's work. Bishop finds Steve as the perfect candidate and he is taken under Bishop's wing learning everything he knows. The hiring soon becomes a mistake when "The Organization" realize Bishop has made the choice to hire McKenna on his own, which is violating the code. What will happen next? (Spoiler) I feel like the ending, where McKenna and Bishop both grant each other's death could have gone down a much different--and better-- path that could've had made this movie much more perfect. It just seemed a little too cliché, in my opinion. (Spoiler end).
Falling shy of a little under one-hundred minutes, "The Mechanic" is a tightly put together drama that has everything---dialog, action, emotion. The opening 15 minutes of the film are the best in it showing a "day in the life" of Arthur Bishop. Nothing but a musical score, we see Bishop committing a hit that shows the brutality he faces with the work he does.
The final hour of "The Mechanic" include a growing relationship between Bishop and McKenna, who proves to be more ruthless than his mentor. There are three very well-made action sequences: A motorcycle chase, a yacht bombing, and a car chase that is along the mountain-sides of Naples. The action scenes are like today's standards, and they are something fans of the genre should really enjoy. The fast pace established by Michael Winner deliver the goods!
It was be simply easy to say that "The Mechanic" is just another shoot em' up action flick, but, the screenplay by Lewis John Carlino offers so much more. While these character live a life very unfamiliar to the ones we live, they have a good message and a whole lot to say about how unfeeling ordinary people can be. The script also grasps onto a fantastic moral about why secrets should be kept as secrets and why there is always a price to be paid for not respecting others fully.
"The Mechanic" is a great film, but, it isn't perfect. Michael Winner's camera angles, zooms, and wobbles are used to a great effect, backed up by sharp cinematography by Richard H. Cline and Robert Paynter (Europe scenes). The editing sometimes wasn't used to the best. While the gas explosion scene from day to night is crafted nicely, the seaside murder coming soon after changes from sunset to pitch darkness in just a single cut. It didn't really seem to fit properly. The final scene seemed to be bungled as well in my opinon, the credits appearing way too soon and everything cutting too quick to black. It seemed a little rushed.
"The Mechanic" is a film close to perfect. Charles Bronson, as always, gives a fantastic performance. As well as Jan-Michael Vincent's performance as Steve. The chemistry between the two works incredibly all the way from the beginning even to the mess of an ending. This is a movie that doesn't need a remake, but of course, 2011 will have to seal that nightmare starring Jason Statham, who will never be able to lead the film like Bronson did, especially not being old enough to play the part. Hollywood has already destroyed the film just by casting Statham. Anyways, this 1972 original is quite the thrill and a film that'll surly please viewers.
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-THE SCREENWRITER, new!