The Mechanic (review of the 1972 original)

MechanicOrigianlSquareBefore Death Wish, British director Michael Winner and Charles Bronson collaborated on this effective slow-burner about a hitman with the unlikely name of Arthur, who grows a conscience – and adopts a young protégé (a pre-Airwolf Jan Michael Vincent) after being contracted to kill an old friend (Keenan Wynn). Bronson is an engaging, likable presence, and the film boasts a fairly classic old-timer/rookie relationship, with lots of ersatz wisdom imparted about killers, licensed and unlicensed. The action is surprisingly assured from a director better known for the hackwork of his later films – even if he’s a bit too free with the ‘crash zoom’ – and the film boasts a memorably quirky attempted-suicide scene, and a killer double-whammy of an ending. Rent it before you see the remake with The Stath – it won’t spoil it.

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