Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Alcohol Paul Reviews: The Mechanic (1972)

Hello Everyone! Mr. Gable here. I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine: Alcohol Paul. He loves bad movies just as much as I do...if not more. His knowledge knows no boundaries when it comes to the badness. (It's very...intoxicating)

I was talking with him in regards to Mr. Gable's Reality and I says to him, I says, "Hey man, any night you are bored and just need to express how awesome Charles Bronson is, write it up and I'll post it on the blog." Low and behold, several hours later...BAM. The Mechanic review is written. (I'm sure you'll see him around here from time to time, chiming in on all those amazing movies I never get around to.)

So give a round of applause and a hearty welcome to my friend and fellow bad movie connoisseur, that Death Wish 3 lovin, James Brown rockin, Skull Vodka drinkin, Bad Ass Mother Fucker:

Alcohol Paul!
What? I didn't steal this image from Google!

Live from Mr. Gable's Action and Adventure Department, Alcohol Paul presents:

Technically, you should be dead already.

I haven’t seen the new Jason Statham flick, “The Mechanic,” but I’ve been getting a bit pumped up for it. Ya’ see, I’m a huge fan of Charles Bronson, and for years now I’ve been saying that Statham is the new Bronson. Now Statham is in a remake of a Charles Bronson flick, so it’s a good time to revisit the original “Mechanic.”

Bronson’s “Mechanic” opens with my man Chaz scouting some apartment, he goes in when no one’s home, does a few mysterious adjustments, and then leaves. The apartment owner comes homes, drinks some (we know) tainted tea, falls asleep (drugged), and Bronson waits across the street for his setup to go through. The resin he put in the stove gas line dissolves and gas begins to spew into the apartment. Bronson sets the gas off with a shot from his rifle and the whole apartment goes up in a blast.

I remember watching this as a teenager with my mind utterly befuddled, a friend and I both remarking excitedly, “Bronson’s making us think!”

We weren’t excited to be thinking, but because Bronson movies weren’t known for testing us in any way. Bronson was quieter than John Wayne, tougher than Sly, not as showy as Van Damme, and in better shape than Seagal. Put succinctly, we were used to Charles Bronson showing up, punching guys in the face, and walking away. Screw one liners, this guy just kicked ass, names didn’t matter because everyone was dead. And don’t even get me started on what happens to you if you fuck with his watermelon crop.

So “The Mechanic” starts off going against the grain a bit. It reveals that Bronson’s stock in trade is assassinations that look like accidents (no murder trial if it’s not a murder, right?).

Bronson is portrayed as dead to the world. Concurrently they introduce a young, spoiled Mafioso’s son, played by the alcoholic who was in “Air Wolf.” No, not Ernest Borgnine, Jan Michael Vincent or something like that.

This guy. Also, star of Alienator.

Anyway, young guy worms his way into becoming Bronson’s protégé and Bronson grudgingly agrees to show the kid how to kill like a professional. That’s pretty much it for story. The rest is mostly montages of them training to kill before the inevitable “job with no time to plan carefully” climax. Of course the job at the end is really a set up to kill everyone because the target needs to die, but so does Bronson because the big guys just don’t trust him anymore. Meh, to be honest I never really paid that much attention.

The action scenes are pretty weak. The best Bronson roles usually relied on a certain grittiness and toughness this movie lacks. Or maybe it’s just a lack of a strong antagonist. In “Death Hunt” he’s up against Lee “I Just Drank 12 Shots Of Jack Daniels” Marvin, a bunch of bloodthirsty bounty hunters, and the entire Yukon wilderness. In other movies I’ve seen him take down the entire German Army, solve street gang problems in New York, and rule the underground bare knuckles boxing world. In this one he just goes up against a bunch of nameless mafia goons. *YAWN*

The plot never really finds direction, plodding from one episode of training or a mission to the next. Maybe the lack of over arching story to carry the movie from start to finish is why “The Mechanic” pretty much just has Bronson going for it and not a whole lot else. Kind of like Jason Statham movies come to think of it.

All of this criticism might be leading some to wonder why Charles Bronson was ever a star. Please don’t be confused. Just because the movie is an un-focused jumble doesn’t mean that Bronson isn’t fun to watch. The man oozes a kind of charisma that action heroes just don’t have anymore (even Statham). He worked his ass off to become a star, doing tons of small parts until various European productions of the late 60s/early 70s cast him in lead roles. Improbably, Bronson, in his early 50s, became an action hero and even a sex symbol. Bronson was ripped in a way no one will probably ever be in movies again. He wasn’t bulky, just wiry and plainly an exercise fanatic. His aged, ugly face had been lived in, and the years of living looked hard. Plainly put, the man’s body told stories that his characters couldn’t tell because they never had as many lines as his face.

Instead of the original “Mechanic,” I’d recommend any of the movies where Bronson was not living so comfortably as his pampered, wealthy “Mechanic” character. Something about him just shines better when he plays a desperate fighter in “Hard Times,” a lonely trapper in “Death Hunt,” or a hard luck farmer in “Mr. Majestyk.”

1 comment:

  1. Heya, Paul. Welcome the Interhole. Liked the review, particularly:

    Lee "I Just Drank 12 Shots Of Jack Daniels" Marvin

    I agree that every movie needs a good antagonist. It's almost more important to have a good antagonist than it is to have a good hero. Just re-watched Hard Target recently and I love how crazy, pissed off Lance Henriksen gets when our man Van Damme gets the better of him. Between Lance's insane rage and everything that got shot exploding with fireworks-type effects I was one entertained, happy camper.