Cast and Crew: Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler (Producers); Jill Ireland,
What It’s About: Aging “Mechanic” (i.e. a hit man who “fixes” problems for “The Organization”) Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) takes Steve McKenna (Jan Michael Vincent), the son of one of his victims (Kennan Wynn), under his wing, giving him on-the-job training in his most unusual profession. What is Steve’s real aim, and will The Organization tolerate Bishop’s unsanctioned choice in apprentices?
Why Watch it Today?: Today is Jan Michael Vincent’s birthday (he was born in 1944). Although Vincent is known to those who grew up in the 1980s as the star of Airwolf (and perhaps for his career’s spectacular flame out after he left the show), in the 1970s Vincent was moving towards starring action roles, generally paired with an older, more established actor. The Mechanic is one of Vincent’s best films, an action packed “hit man”/”mind game” film from Death Wish director Michael Winner. Although workman director Winner’s lack of style doesn’t add much to the film, the basic story of a lonely hit man reaching out for his first real human contact in years by training a successor (whose own intentions remain in doubt) is interesting enough to make this a bit more than a “shoot ‘em up”. The training allows us to see how the “mechanic” goes about his profession in a systematic way (even if and the unnecessarily and illogically elaborate nature of the murders occasionally push the film into so-bad-its-good territory). Genre vet Bronson and newcomer Vincent make play well off of one another, making for pulpy fun.
Where to Get It: iTunes, Netflix (rental) or Amazon
The insanely inaccurate trailer for the retitled reissue, Killer of Killers: