The Mechanic, or Killing as a Methodology for Life
By Malcolm Ryder
from Oxford, England
, 08 Nov 2005
While dated in terms of technology, and slow moving relative to more recent action movies, The Mechanic remains a quintessential representation of Charles Bronsons work.
Bronson plays the part of Arthur Bishop, a seasoned professional killer who has refined his craft into a veritable art form. He is a loner, professing a desire to stand outside it all, but has, for reasons that are unclear, decided to take on a protégé, Steve McKenna, played by Jan Michael Vincent. Bishop unconvincingly explains this move by claiming that he sometimes spreads himself to thin and can therefore use the help. It seems to me there are several other more reasonable reasons for taking on McKenna. For example, Bishop apparently suffers from anxiety attacks, and so he may be feeling the need for friendship. Or, he may simply be intrigued by the unique native talents he observes in the young McKenna. One might even argue that he is compelled to take the young McKenna under his wing in reparation for having recently killed McKennas father, Harry McKenna, who happened to be both a friend of Bishops father and a fellow member of the crime organization with which he is associated.
In any event, what ensues is a kind of primer on a methodology not only for professional killing, but arguably to whatever end one might aspire. This, to me, is the most interesting aspect of the movie. This methodology seems to epitomize the virtue of prudence. This is to say that one thoroughly thinks out in advance ones course of action. Bishop systematically gathers all the information possible regarding his target, sifts through the information deciding what might be useful, and after very carefully considering all the possible variables, plans his approach. The perfection of this methodology is attractive in the same way as is a syllogism. If A is in B, and B is in C, then A is necessarily in C. There is real beauty in the certainty of this kind of approach. Unfortunately there is also a real danger in assuming that we are able to very often approach the real world in the same way. This is demonstrated when taking in McKenna turns out to be Bishops undoing in that the unforeseen variables involved in including a second person in the operation prove problematic. This is not to say that, at the end of the day, Bishop ends up the loser exactly. But I will leave that determination for you to make after having seen the movie.
All in all, this is a very good movie and would recommend it to anyone who is already a Charles Bronson and/or Jan Michael Vincent fan.
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