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The Mechanic (1972)

January 28, 2011

6/10 Grease Monkeys

Pretty dated, but Charles Bronson’s a badass as usual.

The Mechanic is about a hitman who takes out one of his numerous employers, makes it look like an accident because he’s just that damn good, but then finds himself taking the former employer’s son under his wing since the kid won’t leave him the hell alone. One thing leads to another and he starts training the kid in the ways of killing dudes softly, they shoot, judo chop and run dudes off cliffs together like good assassins do, although all is not as it seems behind the curtain.

Now that I think about it, this is a hell of a lot like The Professional, or vice-versa thanks that whole 20-year time difference. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here because comparing anything to The Professional is a tall order to live up to, and this definitely doesn’t meet the requirements. Nevertheless, it’s got its moments here and there.

It’s directed by one Michael Winner whose biggest claim to fame was also directing what’s arguably the most iconic of all Bronson movies, Death Wish. Not sure what kinda buttons I’m gonna push by saying this, but while it ain’t bad by any means, Death Wish ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. And after hearing this referred to as an action “classic” from folks down the line and now that it’s gained enough of a reputation to be remade in to what looks a hell of a lot like The Transporter 4, I’m kinda wondering if I watched the same movie.

From an action standpoint, it’s cool but it’s inconsistent. It starts out with Bronson taking a guy out in an outrageously complicated fashion so that the whole operation looks like an accident, then there’s another guy he bumps off with a far more ho-hum approach, then there’s an hour or so of jibba jabba, and then there’s the final Act where things finally pick up. And that’s fine, I guess, it’s not like I was expecting Ronin or anything, it’s that there’s no moment where I forgot that this movie was made in ’72.

And all that in between stuff wouldn’t be so noticeable if the writing wasn’t such shit. Just really bland dialogue that even Bronson has trouble with and it goes in some weird directions that had me flat-out baffled. One scene in particular where Bronson’s new sidekick goes to his girl’s place, she slits her wrists in front of him, and then he just chills and makes small talk while she bleeds out for a couple hours until she drives to the hospital. Like, of all the ways to prove to the audience that this kid may or may not have what it takes to kill someone, this is it. Man, you have to actively try to screw the pooch to make a shitty movie about hitmen and there are times when it comes dangerously close.

And some of Bronson’s tactics are pretty suspect, too, like making a guy run just far enough that it triggers a heart attack or knowing exactly what a guy’s routine is when he gets home just by breaking in and seeing that he’s got teabags in his cupboard. Seems like a bit unnecessarily risky to me, but I’m not the hitman, Bronson obviously knows what he’s doing. Except for the second to last scene of the movie, he had no idea what he was doing and that was some poorly written bullshit.

But then again, I have a hard time knocking anything with Charles Bronson in it even if he is the biggest saving grace this movie’s got. It’s no Harmonica, but Charlie’s lookin’ pretty boss with his uber-shaggy mop top as Arthur Bishop, that permanent squint of his does the trick quite nicely and he’s just gettin’ it done the way he always does. Works for me. But Keenan Wynn (the soldier from Dr. Strangelove who shoots the Coke machine) is astoundingly bad as the former employer who gets waxed at the start and Jan-Michael Vincent is one smug little bastard as Bishop’s understudy, Harry. He’s probably supposed to be a smug little bastard, but he’s one of those pretty boys you just want to punch in the face and give a buzz cut to more than anything else.

When The Mechanic picks up, it’s pretty entertaining and it’s got some pretty insano car crashes the likes of which you never see in movies any more, but by the same token, a remake could actually do this baby some good. Can’t believe I just typed those words being that Hollywood will remake fucking anything these days as long there continue to be people in the world who’ll watch a trailer and go, “Holy shit! I used to love Marmaduke!” but I think the fat cats are actually onto something here. Still worth checking out for Bronson since he was the man and I feel like people forget about/aren’t hip to that fact, and it’s a decent enough action movie otherwise. Probably giving this one more credit than it deserves, but like I said:


13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2011 4:01 pm

    There are people that (even used to) love Marmaduke?

    I’ll be first in line for that Ziggy movie, though…

    I don’t see me watching this any time soon, but I read the beginning of the plot summary on Wiki just a few minutes ago and it sounds like the opening is pretty badass. Reminded me of The Conversation, which came out right around the same time.

    • January 31, 2011 7:54 am

      Yeah, the opening’s pretty cool, but this has got nothing on The Conversation from what I remember. Still, pretty decent watch.

  2. January 28, 2011 4:41 pm

    Never really got into Bronson, personally, so I’ll also probably never see this. But I will be catching the Transporter 4 remake of it on BluRay. LOL!!!

    • January 31, 2011 7:55 am

      Haha. Check out Once Upon a Time in the West, you’ll be on the Bronson bandwagon.

  3. HermioneO permalink
    January 28, 2011 7:33 pm

    He and Clint Eastwood were two hollywood badasses who got parts for their squeezes in their movies: Jill Ireland for Bronson, and Sandra Locke for Eastwood. Neither were very good.

  4. Andreas Karlsson permalink
    March 4, 2011 5:16 am

    Talk about over-analyzing dude. This is a static, existentialist movie and the writing isn’t crappy and you can’t look for “hidden agendas” in every scene (the suicide scene you were talking about for example). This movie is not pretentious. It’s dark, realistic and politically incorrect. There’s nothing wrong with the dialogue and talking about the last scenes like poorly written bullshit is just complete nonsense to me. If you could give some intelligent reason for that statement I would be grateful. The movie never makes the claim that Bronson is the guy knows it all, you know?

    You just didn’t get it. Fact that you seem to savor the short action scenes as the highlights of the movies pretty much proves it. It’s the suspenseful and slow scenes that make this movie so great.

    • March 7, 2011 2:05 pm

      Man, wasn’t expecting such a heated comment defending a movie I liked. Well, glad you like the movie so much, a thousand apologies for not liking it quite as much as you did. I hope one day you can forgive me.

      I love you.

      • March 7, 2011 2:39 pm

        Aiden, I’m convinced that you’re just about the most laid-back person I know. Everything just rolls off your back so nicely.

      • March 7, 2011 3:23 pm

        Hahaha. Thanks, man. I get that a lot. It’s so much easier to just let it roll.

  5. jim winters permalink
    December 27, 2012 8:34 pm

    Just think if Sam Peckinpah directed !(?) wholly Bat eFF


  1. » Movie Review – The Mechanic (2011) Fernby Films

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