The Mechanic (1972)
First off, I watched the remake of The Mechanic two days ago, and enjoyed it. It was fun, it was modern, there were lots of explosions, bullets, stunts and fights. I had not seen the original until tonight. I had read several other reviews of The Mechanic (2010) and saw many blasting the new film for not measuring up to the original. Jason Statham was no Charles Bronson. That is true, he is not, and while I’ve enjoyed most of Bronson’s movies, I have also enjoyed most of Statham’s.
It is always difficult to compare an original and a remake, and it is sometimes quite difficult to know which to watch first. It seems there will be bias built in no matter what you do. “The new one isn’t as faithful as the original” or “the old one wasn’t as flashy as the new one” comments seem unavoidable. In this particular case I viewed the remake before the original, and the original was not as flashy as the remake. Times change, especially when there are 39 years between the two. Audience expectation has changed a great deal from days of good stories and good characters to days of good effects and little plot.
All this being said, The Mechanic (1972) was a decent action film, but in my opinion fell flat in several areas that the remake picked up on. I was surprised to see how much of the original was intact in the remake. I will try not to spoil anything in my reviews, but will point out a few of the carry-overs. The plot is essentially the same, Bronson/Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a hit-man/assassin/”mechanic”. (In fact both films use nearly identical dialogue when explaining the mechanic terminology, and at several other points in the film(s).) In both cases Bishop’s mentor is assassinated, and his son teams with Bishop to “learn the trade”. The Mechanic (1972) really doesn’t develop the training of the son as well as the remake, as most of the film seemed a little rushed. Both films feature a double crossing “assassination organization” as well a prostitute “love interest”. Remarkable similarities in the final scenes, with comparable vehicles involved, right down to the end, however the original really didn’t do a very good job of explaining itself.
The DVD release only had the original theatrical trailer as a bonus feature, and that was quite telling. The movie was re-released as “Killer of Killers” for some reason, and the trailer touted Bronson/Bishop as a hero, working outside the law, doing what the police couldn’t do, killing bad guys, erasing pushers, murdering murderers, etc. This is essentially true to the film, and while the targets Bishop kills do seem to be “bad guys” there is little back story or information on how or why they must be killed, or who Bishop’s employers are and why they must take this upon themselves. Instead it seems he is just killing as a job, for the money, not really acting heroic. Character development didn’t really seem important in The Mechanic (1972), as a lot of questions as to the motivations behind the story are left open and unanswered.
Bronson delivers a very good performance as his icy cold tough guy persona is in full swing. A minor thing that bothered me was his “Bieber” hair toss, which if I had seen this movie a year ago, I would not have noticed, but now it just made me chuckle. Jan-Michael Vincent was alright as the protege, but a lot of his development as Steve McKenna was glossed over. Another bothersome character to me was McKenna’s suicidal girlfriend, who really didn’t seem to me to serve much of a purpose but to fill 10 minutes and show McKenna in an equally cold light as the icy killer Bishop. For me it didn’t really help. The assassinations were different and original, and were quite interesting to watch unfold. The introduction was interesting as there was no dialogue for the first fifteen minutes or so as a target is killed in creative fashion.
The bottom line is I enjoyed this movie, but did not think it one of the ’70s or Bronson’s best. Sometimes less is more, but this one didn’t have me wanting more because I loved it, I wanted more because it would have developed the characters and plot a lot further.
———–Whew, there we go, the first movie review of the new blog. Hope you enjoy it, and I will be doing more.