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Film: The Mechanic
"Murder is only killing without a license."

The Mechanic is a 1972 action thriller. Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson), an aging assassin, is hired to kill "Big Harry" McKenna (Keenan Wynn), which he does with his usual resourceful genius. At the funeral he meets Big Harry's son, Steve McKenna (Jan-Michael Vincent). Steve becomes interested in the art of being an assassin, so Bishop plays along and then trains the young man to become a professional killer. Steve is taught to use the mechanic's tools until he becomes a master. Arthur Bishop's superiors aren't accepting of Bishop doing this, and in the end they find that they can trust no one. It is a defining example of the seventies action film, and has existentialist themes.

The film was remade in 2011, with Jason Statham as Bishop and Ben Foster as Steve.

Tropes used by both versions:

Tropes used by the original:

  • Badass Longcoats
  • Bastard Understudy
  • Black and Gray Morality
  • Car Chase: And a bike chase.
  • Did You Actually Believe?
  • Dramatic Gun Cock
  • Every Car Is a Pinto
  • Evil Gloating: By McKenna after he poisons Bishop.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Arthur demonstrates the strength in his fingers (from repeated squeezing a lump of putty) by breaking a glass from the inside. "Sometimes you've got to hold onto a mark."
  • Guns Akimbo
  • The Hero Dies: Bishop himself at the end. But at least he makes sure that Steve wouldn't get away with it.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Averted with the Lack of Empathy of the two protagonists highlighted in several ways for instance Arthur realises Steve has what it takes to be his understudy when the latter watches a former girlfriend who's slit her wrists to get his attention bleed over the course of several hours (she lives, but only because they give her the car keys so she can drive herself to the hospital). A more subtle scene is when Arthur is at the hospital, he walks past a young boy with an artificial leg without even a sympathetic glance.
  • Love Interest: Subverted.
    • Bishop appears to have one, but she's revealed after sex to be an expensive prostitute he's paying for what these days would be called a GFE (Girlfriend Experience).
    • Steve comes over after his girlfriend calls him to say she's going to commit suicide. Making no effort to stop her or even recommend against her doing so, he calmly watches as she slits her wrists. Eventually, he does toss her the keys to her car and point out if she drives fast can make the nearest ranger station in 20 minutes if she's not really interested in dying.
  • The Mafia: Implied though not stated outright to be Arthur's employers.
  • Oh Crap: Steve himself at the end when he realizes that the Red Mustang he's in is rigged with a car bomb.
  • Perfect Poison
  • Porn Stache: Charles Bronson's got one.
  • Reading Lips: Along with a powerful telescope, Bishop uses this skill to find out about an impending drug delivery, so he and Steve can infiltrate a Big Fancy House posing as the drug mules.
  • The Seventies: Very evident.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: On the cynical side.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Steve shares a celebratory bottle of wine with Bishop, having coated the Bishop's glass with brucine. Mocking Bishop while waiting for him to die, he is unaware that Bishop knew this would happen. Thinking that he can now take over Bishop's life and career, he finds a note on the steering wheel from Bishop. "End of game. Bang! You're dead." The car door sets off a timer connected to a bomb that explodes.
    • Although, you have to wonder... I checked up on brucine, it's an alkaloid so it should taste bitter. Plus, the lethal dose is like 1 gram of pure stuff, so if enough of it gets added to wine so that the victim gets a gram in one mouthful I'm thinking that's going to really change the taste. Steve said he coated the glass with a solution, which can't have been enough. Plus, Bishop kind of got his heart attack way too quickly; you'd think for an ingested poison there'd be some delay before the effects kick in. Maybe it was more a Batman Gambit - Bishop was planning to disappear anyway, so he pretended he got poisoned then blew up Steve so the organization would think he was the one in the car.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Arthur knows Steve is planning to kill him, and is surprised when Steve kills a mook who's got the drop on him.
  • You Killed My Father: Subverted.
    Bishop: Was it because of your father?
    Steve: You killed him? I thought he just died.

Tropes used by the remake:


The DilemmaFilm Brain ListSucker Punch
Mary, Queen of ScotsFilms of the 1970sNight of the Lepus

alternative title(s): The Mechanic
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