Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Mechanic (1972), Review

The Mechanic, 1972
Reviewed by: Dan S.
Directed by: Michael Winner
Written by: Lewis John Carlino
Starring: Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincet.
Language: English

The Mechanic excels when it's at its most thoughtful and methodical. The long wordless sequences of a cerebral Bronson tediously plotting and staging smooth complex hits are fascinating and rewarding for the patient viewer. Set to Fielding's quiet spooky piano score and natural sounds, Winner uses mature camera work, beautiful moody lighting, and some creative flash editing to draw you into the unspoken existential crisis of this stoic aging assassin as he spends his lonely free time between jobs enjoying the finest wines, staring at morbid paintings, and in one of the film's more painful depressing scenes....paying prostitutes to read detached love letters to him.

Unfortunately the tense movie seems to draw towards its inevitable climax far too soon while the more elaborate gunplay and bomb throwing action attempts that dominate the final act are blandly shot, cheap looking, and ultimately dated despite beautiful Italian locations. Set mostly in fashionable but dreary 70s mansions, the rugged street wise Bronson looks out of place at points, but maybe that's the point, he's ultimately a caveman confused and lost in the solitary gentleman charade of his own creation. This might be his finest acting, his weary pained expressions conveying a terrible dread and internal conflict he simply can't bring himself to face. He's compellingly ambiguous, never letting us know what's really on his mind. As Bronson's sociopathic understudy and only other major character, the youthful Jan Michael Vincent is painfully wooden and unconvincing, but given his character, it oddly works.


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