The Mechanic

The Mechanic (1972)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Jill Ireland
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

After all the bombastic – but utterly shallow and disappointing – crop of movies we get to see these days as Hollywood’s outpour, recently I found myself in the mood for some retro-action. I wanted something that doesn’t race by me at the speed of light. MGM Home Entertainment’s release of the Charles Bronson actioner "The Mechanic" perfectly fit the bill and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed to get to see a thrilling film that is more than just a special effects spectacle for the effects’ sake.

Charles Bronson is Arthur Bishop, a mob hit man who has the reputation of doing some of the cleanest jobs around. He spends time to study his victims to ultimately create an assassination that is without a trace and always looks like an accident.
Living a lonely life in reclusion, the aging Bishop eventually decides to take on an apprentice Steve McKenna (Jan-Michael Vincent). It quickly becomes evident that Steve is not only obsessed with killing, but also incredibly talented at studying his objects and making a clean hit. Unfortunately the mob is not entirely happy with Bishop bringing in an outsider without their consent so he tries to convince them that he’s the right man… or is he?

"The Mechanic" is a wonderfully operatic movie that brings us one of Charles Bronson’s best performances. His elusiveness with a bittersweet touch of longing for company is perfectly portrayed with very subtle nuances.
The thing I enjoyed most about "The Mechanic" was the fact that the film takes its time. It is not rushing form one event to the other. If Bishop is waiting, so are we as the viewers, and we feel the tension build with every second as the time slowly ticks away. That way, we can associate with the character much better and also have time to reflect on his state of things, the story and the potential next twists in the plot. Despite this relaxed pacing however, the film never appear slow for that reason and makes for a very engaging viewing that on some level involves the viewer rather than making him a strictly passive observer only. With that it sets itself apart from modern action films, which have a tendency to become insignificant and forgettable the moment the end credits roll. "The Mechanic" will stay with you for a while, making you think about the clever structure and narrative of the film, maybe the characters, or maybe even just the ending.

MGM Home Entertainment presents "The Mechanic" in its original 1.85:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> viewing. The disc also contains an alternative <$PS,fullscreen> transfer, but don’t even bother, unless you want to miss out on Richard Kline’s atmospheric cinematography and shot compositions. The print is in good condition and mostly free of blemishes. Very slight grain is evident on occasion but for the most part the image is absolutely stable. Occasional speckles may appear but they are never distracting in any way. The transfer also reveals a very good level of detail and has a faithful color reproduction of the somewhat pastel color scheme that is so typical for many 70s movies. Skin tones are natural however and whenever applied, colors are strong and faithfully reproduced. Edges are sharp and without edge-enhancement.

"The Mechanic" comes with its original monaural <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track, as well as a French mono track. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish are also supplied. The audio sounds a bit dated with its limited frequency response and somewhat harsh sounding quality, but it is never distractingly so and always manages to create an enjoyable experience.

Other than the movie’s theatrical trailer, the DVD does not contain any extras at all. A few supplements or maybe a <$commentary,commentary track> would have been a welcome addition, but for now the movie alone will do.

"The Mechanic" is a great 70s action film. It combines a great story, cool characters, great acting with a nice human touch and a very cool – and somewhat unexpected – ending. Charles Bronson is perfect for the part and you won’t see this movie look better anywhere else than on this DVD. If you want to take a break from the hyperactive movie fare we are bombarded with these days, definitely give "The Mechanic" a look-see. Its stylish retro-feel makes it all the more enjoyable.