The following article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the subject.
Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday and another installment of Original vs. Remake. Today’s movie is the 1972 version of The Mechanic. Tiffany A. White will do the 2011 remake at her blog this Friday.
Today is a little different than usual because I’ve actually seen both the original and the remake. I’ll comment briefly on which one I recommend at the end of this post.
In the story world of this movie, the word mechanic refers to a hitman who makes his murders look like accidents. As the film’s title suggests, this movie is about such an individual.
An aging hitman befriends the son of one of his victims and begins to train him in the business. Will the student outsmart the teacher?
The Mechanic starred Charles Bronson and Jan Michael Vincent. Charles Bronson’s wife, Jill Ireland, also had a bit role in the film.
Michael Winner served as director. Winner and Bronson had previously worked together on Chato’s Land. Winner went on to work with Charles Bronson in Death Wish 1-3 and in The Stone Killer.
Watch the preview:
The Mechanic’s Lonely Life
The Mechanic is a guy named Arthur Bishop. A long action sequence with no dialogue takes up the first fifteen minutes of the movie. This sequence shows Arthur doing what he does best—assassinating his target and making it look like an accident. As the movie goes forward, we learn that Arthur has a pretty lonely life.
He lives in a beautiful house—alone. He pays a prostitute (Jill Ireland—his real life wife) to enact elaborate scenarios in which she pretends they actually have more than a business relationship. He visits a man, pretending to be his friend, and later kills him on orders from the mysterious organization for which he works.
The Mechanic’s Friend
Then, things change. Arthur befriends the son of one of his latest victim. He sees a coldness in Steve McKenna (Jan Michel Vincent) that will lend itself to learning the trade of mechanic. Arthur knows he’s getting older and that he won’t be able to do his job forever.
After a botched assasination, the mysterious organization calls a meeting with Arthur. They didn’t approve bringing Steve on board and aren’t happy Arthur made such an important decision all by his lonesome.
Predator or Prey?
From that moment forward, it becomes obvious that Arthur’s days are numbered. Will he be able to use his smarts to escape? Or has he finally overestimated his own craftiness?
I didn’t realize until I began researching this post that Charles Bronson’s character was actually working for “the good guys.” All this time, I thought he worked for some international crime ring. But if you watch the trailer for the movie, it clearly paints Arthur (Bronson) as someone who is fighting crime for the greater good.
Some trivia associated with The Mechanic:
- Cliff Robertson (Ben Parker in the Spiderman movie franchise) was considered for the role of Arthur Bishop
- Jeff Bridges (The Last Picture Show, The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart) was originally considered for the role of Steve McKenna
- The Husqvarna motorcycles used in the big chase scene were specially modified for the film to hit speeds of 110 miles per hour
To Watch or Not to Watch?
The Mechanic is a film you need to see—even if it’s just because you aren’t familiar with Charles Bronson. He was excellent at playing a certain type of character. Nobody did cold, calculating, and deadly like Charles Bronson did.
Also, you need to watch this to see just how hot Jan Michael Vincent was. Brad Pitt looks like a surprised moose compared to young Jan Michael Vincent. Mr. Vincent has come to a sad twilight in his life and career. But back in the day, he was smokin’.
Original vs. Remake
Having seen both the original and the remake, I’ll say that you can’t go wrong with either version. The plot of both movies is very similar.
Both are very exciting for different reasons. Seeing Charles Bronson in his prime has a special kind of magic. But seeing Jason Statham–who is much more good looking–play the role is fun, too.
I’d say the remake has a bit happier of an ending than the original. But the original has a touch of poetic justice that the remake doesn’t.
Don’t forget to check out Tiffany’s thoughts on the 2011 remake of The Mechanic this Friday.