‘The Mechanic‘ is a 1972 action thriller directed by Michael Winner and written by Lewis John Carlino. It was produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. It was released through United Artists.
Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) is a “mechanic,” a hitman who works for the Mafia and pays a call girl (Jill Ireland) to pretend to be his romantic partner considering the stress he is under. He is assigned to kill his friend “Big Harry” McKenna (Keenan Wynn) and stages it to look like an accident, though he confronts his friend as he dies. Afterwards, he befriends Harry’s narcissistic and sociopathic son Steve (Jan-Michael Vincent), taking him under his wing as an assassin. As he shows Steve the ropes, he is confronted by his boss who tells him he broke the rules by bringing in an apprentice, disrupting Bishop’s life even further.
I did find some of the scenes overstayed their welcome. For example, the first fifteen minutes contain no dialogue and is just Bishop observing his target. It could been cut in half, at least. I found this to be one of the most cerebral films surrounding hitmen that I have seen. You feel the tension of Bishop’s life and the toll that his job is taking on him physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Taking on an apprentice seems to be him at ease, but his young partner’s ambitions might get in the way of that.
Originally, actor Patton actor George C. Scott was sought for the role, but he requested several script changes that the writers considered untenable. Thus Charles Bronson was chosen and the changes to the script were made anyway. That being said, I think Brosnan was the perfect choice to the role. He gave it his cold gaze and a certain bravado that I think only he could have brought to the table. He plays it cool when he needs to and forceful otherwise.
Now this section has spoilers, so feel free to skip it. I felt the ending was ambiguous. While we see Bishop supposedly dying of poison after being double-crossed by Steve, I felt like it could have been an act. Bishop knew Steve was gunning for him, as the last scene shows and there was not a sense of finality to Arthur’s death. It seemed they left it open-ended as a show that Bishop is superior to his narcissistic partner. Perhaps I am wrong, but I do felt like the movie was leaving it open to interpretation.
Bottom line, The Mechanic is a cerebral action film where Charles Bronson truly shows off his cinematic talent. It has a few flaws here and there, but it excellent for a Friday night movie.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Minor language, Sexual innuendo
FAVORITE QUOTE: Money is paid, but that’s not the motive. It has to do with standing outside of it all, on your own.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.