Michael Winner is a bit of a joke these days, best know for his TV commercials but he actually did make a few decent films like Death Wish. A forgotten gem also staring Charles Bronson is The Mechanic from 1972. Set in LA and Naples the film is really well photographed and makes great use of its locations. The action is well choreographed and without the benefit of modern technology like CGI it is more low-key but more believable. A lot of the action scenes use medium and long cutaways giving a better view of what is going on than a lot of modern films that depend on ultra close ups distorting what is going on.
Bronson plays Arthur Bishop a hitman, he is methodical and meticulous about what he does. For reasons that are alluded to but never completely explained (I wont ruin the plot by saying more) he takes on an apprentice Steve McKenna (Jan Michael Vincent). The pair work well together but it soon becomes clear that Steve has his own agenda. While Bronson plays Bishop as emotionally vacant, Vincent’s Mckenna is more narcissistic and lacks any remorse or empathy; he comes across as a sociopath. Both actors give strong understated performances that are perfect for the film.
Don’t get me wrong this film isn’t a masterpiece but it is an enjoyable thriller that is very much of the era it was made. Anyone who is disappointed by this summers blockbusters should take a look at how things where done nearly forty years ago. The film is worth seeing just for the ending, it is brilliantly executed and is perfect for the film.