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CHARLES BRONSON IS 'THE MECHANIC' WITH JAN MICHAEL-VINCENT

Title: The Mechanic Year: 1972 Rates: ****

Cult flick fan-favorite THE MECHANIC, one of the six collaborations between tough guy American actor Charles Bronson and tough guy cinema British director Michael Winner, that proceeded CHATO'S  LAND and was followed by THE STONE KILLER, the breakout blockbuster DEATH WISH and then DEATH WISH II and DEATH WISH III, is visually, as an edgy urban to rural (then to Europe) neo noir, their greatest joint effort...

The camerawork topnotch with the underrated auteur's signature shots, including establishing zooms in an urgent, gritty 1970's fashion with just-enough action on the side, exceeding others of its 70's exploitation kind: But it's the first fifteen minutes, a take on the Police Procedural noir only here being Hit Man Procedural, where Bronson's title character Arthur Bishop, who doesn't fixes cars but problems in the form of people, are more intense and suspenseful than how most movies end...

Charles Bronson and Tower Records in The Mechanic

And the end is more of a mental chess-match climax, taking place in Italy (with a meticulous sort of foreign film vibe) after Bishop mentored his dead mentor's son into being as equally cold-blooded to be a genuine killer, providing Bronson a worthy enough partner Jan-Michael Vincent...

Both old and young assassin take part in various lessons, the worst being watching Killer Whales (get it?) at Sea World, and allowing a noticeably novice actress to slowly attempt suicide: There's plenty of pulp-inspired dime-store novel dialogue, and moments when director Winner seems to unintentionally parody hippies instead of showing them in genuine form, yet it all fits somehow... it's pure 70's pulp, after all.

Other great scenes occur when the studies become hands-on, applied assassinations and Vincent's Steve McKenna gets to show his stuff... but Arthur sure doesn't act old, able to ride dirt-bikes against the best of them. Herein, with each "hit," the suspense level mounts in a creative fashion as Bishop receives a portfolio with photos, and a name... that won't be on the map much longer. And right when there's nothing left but an extremely subtle choice that's no choice at all, the inevitable showdown, beyond the finale, isn't too easy figure since real assassins don't wait till noon, or dawn.

Jan-Michael Vincent in THE MECHANIC


 


 

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