Fifteen minutes into the movie and you haven’t heard anyone say anything.
Charles Bronson with a really bad haircut is Arthur Bishop, a hit man, also known as a mechanic. He fixes problems. Bishop works for an unnamed organization. He is extremely methodical in getting to know all about his mark making his hits look like accidents or natural causes. He is alone. In fact, one scene with his “girlfriend” only emphasizes how alone he is. And he lives in a really cool house. In his spare time Bishop practices fighting skills and studies a painting that looks like something from Hieronymus Bosch.
At the funeral of a friend he has just killed, he meets up with Steve McKenna (Jan-Michael Vincent), a guy with apparently no conscience whatsoever. Steve also happens to be the son of the man he killed. Bishop decides it would be good to train this kid so he could have back up, maybe a partner, and someone to pass the job onto. Vincent plays a narcissist very believably.
There is a discussion after watching a karate meet. In a karate meet there isn’t any contact because then someone would die, “and that’s against the law.” Bishop says that everyone is a killer; the mafia, the military, governments. You can get away with it depending on who’s playbook you are using. When Steve asks if the Japanese karate master is a killer, Bishop replies no, the rules are what’s important to him.
Unfortunately, Bishop didn’t realize he needed permission from his organization to bring someone in. This puts his own life in danger. He had thought he was more freelance than he was. Their playbook is the one he is playing by when he had thought he was using his own.
While generally a slow movie, it is not boring. Well paced with some actions scenes – a motorcycle chase is especially fun – The Mechanic is not really an action movie, it’s not quite deep enough for a character study, so let’s call it a tension movie. Besides, super-cool Charles Bronson is a hit man, what’s not to like?
The Mechanic, directed by Michael Winner. Written by Lewis John Carlino. Starring Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent. 1972. 100 minutes.
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