The Mechanic “fixes” all your problems
The Mechanic (1972) is an entertaining Charles Bronson film, if not generic. It begins with one of the most straightforward premises in the history of premises: Bronson is a hired killer who kills creatively. That means taking the guy out without making it look like he was taken out. If you’re saying, “Huh?”, then you need to see the first twenty minutes of this movie, which demonstrates Bronson’s one particular talent. I liked it.
After he takes out the trash, Bronson returns to his routine. Charles Bronson’s method of acting is not for everyone. He’s like Clint Eastwood, but on sleeping pills. Bronson shows very little emotion, but when he does, that sneer, smile, or squint is a good change of pace. I didn’t find him boring in this movie because a lot happens and there’s a lot of visual cues to follow, which is what the opening scene does best.
Bronson soon meets a younger version of himself, but he’s a cruel and ambitious. He wants to learn the “ropes” of Bronson’s trade, and hangs around him like a jackass until Bronson agrees to take him on, for some reason. Jan-Michael Vincent plays The Annoying Guy, an entertaining version of a guy with a stupid mullet. I don’t know what it is, but Bronson does, and sees right through this guy’s annoying fake complements. He taunts The Annoying Guy’s mullet and sits back with his feet up for a great majority of the run time.
To emphasize just how demented The Annoying Guy is, we watch as he taunts his girlfriend into committing suicide. She threatens to do it and he tells her to go right ahead, since she’s just as annoying as he is. This is a sick and twisted part of the movie, but that’s the point. We’re supposed to hate this arrogant jerk, so we smile when he gets blown up at the end. Oh, spoilers by the way.
You might remember Jan-Michael Vincent from television, but he’s not in the limelight very often. His biggest role was on Airwolf, an even more generic television show than this movie. What I will say is that he gets the job done and sells the part, even though I think he’s pretty wooden in most scenes after the suicide of his girlfriend. As he tries to compete with Bronson, there’s more action and some car chases. There are a lot of annoying things about this movie, but it does a lot of things right too.
Overall, I was surprised I liked this movie. Maybe it was the simplicity of the thing, or maybe it was Bronson himself, but the action and the pace of the movie didn’t hurt. After all, Bronson isn’t known for long-winded speeches, so they have to fill the movie with something, right? It’s a good thing they filled it with something good this time around.
I will note that they remade this movie in 2011 and ruined everything good about it. Jason Stathem is awful as the assassin Bronson originally played, and the girlfriend scene is gone, a victim of this day and age. Now there’s nothing to sell The Annoying Guy’s character. The competition between the two men isn’t much of a competition, as Stathem outsmarts him in the end. In fact, the ending is completely changed. Pretty stupid.