"Murder is only killing without a license," says Charles Bronson as professional assassin Arthur Bishop in the 1972 action flick The Mechanic
. Jason Statham
takes over Bronson's role with Ben Foster as his eager apprentice in director Simon West's remake of The Mechanic
, which opens this weekend in theaters. Before you see the glossy remake, check out the gritty original, which is available on DVD and to watch instantly on Netflix.
Seventies action films age like the fine Italian wine Bronson sips with his own amateur assassin, Steve (Jan-Michael Vincent), during one of their assignments. For the first 16 dialogue-free minutes of the original The Mechanic, we watch Bishop as he meticulously sets up a hit on a human target he has been observing from an apartment across the street. Bishop is an expert at making your untimely death look like an accident, like when he shoots at career criminal "Big Harry" McKenna—making him think a sniper is gunning for him—and then smothers the exhausted old man to death as he races for the safety of his car.
At Big Harry's funeral, Bishop meets Harry's narcissistic party-boy son Steve, who is intrigued by Bishop. After some male bonding, Bishop confides in Steve the true nature of his work and reluctantly takes the young man along on some of his hits. The two make a lethal pair, but the May-December bromance is short-lived when, on assignment in Italy, Bishop discovers that Steve has been studying him to find a perfect way to kill him. Who will survive until the end credits when a seasoned veteran takes on his own apprentice? The answer might surprise you in this action classic that is a must-see for Bronson fans and action connoisseurs.