16 March 2008 | wmjahn
BRONSON at his peak: one of THE action-movies of all time !!!
The early 70ies were the years, when CHARLES BRONSON as leading man could do nothing wrong. Every single movie he made in those years from 1970's CITTA VIOLENTA to 1975's BREAKHEART PASS was a commercial winner all the way and most of them were artistically successful as well. He worked with the best of western- and action-directors then (Michael Winner, Don Siegel, Terence Young, Tom Gries, Richard Fleischer, John Sturges, Sergio Sollima) and they usually turned out their best efforts with THE MAN starring in the leading role. The movies THE MAN turned out then one after another are now considered among the best of its kind ever made.
THE MECHANIC is clearly no exception to this rule. On the contrary, among his superb movies of these (sadly long gone) days, THE MECHANIC shines as one of the best. Some even consider THE MECHANIC to be the best movie Mr. BRONSON ever made! Personally I would no go that far, but it is definitely one of the best five he ever made, the others being HARD TIMES aka THE STREETFIGHTER (please also check my comment there), CHATO'S LAND (again, please check my comment there), of course DEATH WISH I and MR. MAJESTYK.
Actually THE MECHANIC is more than just a mere action-flick, it is a socio-economical study of the lives and times of a top-level professional hit-man at the peak of his power and his connections and ultimately fateful troubles with the mafia and mafia-structures. It is a so matter-of-fact-made movie that one can not deny its "documentary-style".
BRONSON looks GREAT as the "mechanic", the top-hit-man, the "killer of killers"! He's superbly clothed, always apt to the needs of the scene, wears suits and tie here and there, casual clothes in other occasions and an awesome leather-jacket in other memorable scenes. And the hair-cut is awesome as well (when have you seen a professional hit-man with that long hair?). BRONSON hardly ever looked better. When he left us in 2003, newspapers over here often chose pictures of him in his prime from the early 70ies, some taken from THE MECHANIC, him holding the ultimately fateful glass of wine in his huge hands. Memorable, ain't it? :-)
Back to the picture itself:
Right from the beginning THE MECHANIC is filled with awesome frames. Just take the first one: one sees just blue sky. Suddenly - seemingly from the nowhere - Bronsons stony face fills the screen (one has to see this on a BIG screen!). Jerry Fieldings superbly fitting music (now on on CD by Intrada) starts right the same second. We see THE MAN entering a building. A short greeting follows (which is the only word spoken in the first app. 15 minutes). Then the professional does his first job, knocks off his first victim, whose murder is disguised as a gas explosion, without emotion, just a job to be done. Then the murder of Harry McKenna follows, where Bishop shows no outward regret for his actions, putting the brutal demands of his job over his friendship to Harry.
ARTHUR BISHOP is certainly no average hit-man. He lives in a swell mansion up at Mulholland drive, the paintings on this wall are reproductions of Hironimus Boschs' work, when he plans the best way to do his jobs = killings, he listens to classical music, the furniture is well chosen, he loves a glass of wine after a well-done job. A man with manners and good taste. Not a dumb-ass, a clever hit-man, one with brains. His Dad already worked for the mafia (as a judge, in fact). A man with roots.
Emotionless, tough and quiet (but when he says something, then it's well thought-over), he is nevertheless intelligent enough to know, that this ain't a job he can do forever, that he is in the twilight of his career. So he decides to take a companion/apprentice, young J.-M. Vincent (in his best role), to teach him the trade and to have somebody to be able to rely on in dangerous situations. THE MAN ain't that young anymore, a 2nd man could be a needed asset, a backup in dangerous situations.
The mafia disapproves of this, but Arthur Bishop is strong-willed ...
Bronson and Vincent fill their parts to perfection and these ain't easy parts. Character development, not too usual for this genre, is a strong point of this movie together with a handful of superbly staged action-sequences. At a running-time of a little over 90 minutes, there is more happening in THE MECHANIC than in many other movies, and still you are not watching a hectic movie (like most action flicks today are). As another admirer wrote "'The Mechanic' is a tightly-bound drama that uses everything - dialog, emotion, physical action - with stunning economy. Like a tightly-written novel, the film sheds all unnecessary padding and only gives us what is absolutely important to the storyline."
This ain't a lightweight picture, this is prime stuff. Every frame is well-chosen, every scene has its meaning, Mr. Winner clearly put a lot of effort into this one (as well as his other efforts from the early- to mid-70ies - Winner became a slob only later on). There are not many pictures, which one can watch every second year and still be filled with thrill, but THE MECHANIC accomplishes this, it is a movie "that updates itself each time you watch it".
Watch it ! :-)