The Mechanic

Jill Ireland and Charles Bronson in The Mechanic (dir. Michael Winner, 1972).

This movie clips along like a good cheap paperback. It's another one of those films where the implied level of background complexity is higher than anything that can be accommodated by the actual story, and as a result the whole thing takes on a compelling illusion of narrative (and psychological) depth. At the same time, it's all very winningly cheesy in that way of the early seventies pulp crime potboiler. Probably Bronson's best acting work--which is to say that the part calls for someone with the emotional range of a dormant cobra. Jan-Michael Vincent is good too as the cocky apprentice killer: knowingly or not, he and director Michael Winner manage to retain some of the homoerotic element that reportedly had to be written out of of the original script in order for Bronson to agree to do the picture. Several appealing small parts, including some virtuoso lip-biting by Keenan Wynn. The brief scene with Jill Ireland depicted above is a small triumph of bad acting disguised as bad acting (if you've seen it, you know what I mean).

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