The Mechanic (1971)

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Michael Winner directs Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent and Keenan Wynn in this methodical hitman trains Young Turk up in his unique skillset thriller.

Has there ever been a more baffling box office star than Bronson? He can’t act, he looks awkward if asked to display any other emotion than confused and if a line requires any combination of syllables it is dictated tersely like it was originally gibberish. The one positive of his career success is he paved the way in movie backers minds that Arnie could be a star; a genuine talent who moved on from the same limitations Charlie seems more than happy to just lean on. I wonder if here he even questioned the barely hidden homosexual relationship that bubbles away between his assassin and Vincent’s dangerous protege? I mean, he had to question why they start hanging out quite so much before training begins? It’s not like his blank killer is great company or even all that mysterious. As a plot this has all been done better in the remake starring The Stath and Ben Foster, at least then any dialogue between the characters, that was not about practicalities of the next job, doesn’t seem interminable. Still the 70s location filming, the wordless missions (things really pick up before the credits) and Jerry Fielding’s wonderful score of jazzy sound clusters allow this to ascend some of the deadwood like Bronson and Winner involved.

5

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