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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Assassin > Killer > The Destructors (1974/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD) + The Mechanic (2010 remake/Sony Blu-ray)

The Destructors (1974/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD) + The Mechanic (2010 remake/Sony Blu-ray)


Picture: C+/B-†††† Sound: C+/B†††† Extras: C-/C†††† Films: B-/C



PLEASE NOTE: Destructors is an on-line only exclusive from MGM and can be purchased from Amazon.com, which you can reach through the sidebar of this side.



Most films about hitmen today are a joke, smug, self-amused, unrealistic, slick in the worst ways and more comic than they should be.A quick comparison of the following films are very telling.


Robert Parrishís The Destructors (1974) was originally distributed by American International and stars James Mason as a classy, powerful kingpin who will make money on anything and is now smuggling drugs.He is none too happy with efforts to stop him by U.S. Embassy official Anthony Quinn, so he hires a deadly assassin to do the job.Turns out it is an old friend who is mechanically inclined, played by Michael Caine.


We get great performances by the leads in great form, a smart screenplay by Producer Judd Bernard, fine supporting cast, great locations and some fine action sequences that have even been influential including a car chase with Caine that itself references the original Italian Job (1969, reviewed elsewhere on this site) that would be later imitated in the Bond film GoldenEye (1995) and second Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible film.However, the best reason to catch this gem is because it holds up and works well, especially if you like thrillers with an edge.


There is a telling scene in the new Jason Statham/Ben Foster remake of The Mechanic (2010) where Statham shows his appreciation for music and electronics by playing a vinyl record on a fancy, expensive turntable.In The Destructors, Caineís assassin John Deray does the same, but only after screwing together what looks like a secret explosive device that turns out to be an advanced turntable needle arm.Stathamís version of Charles Bronsonís Arthur Bishop is slick and just buys expensive items to enjoy, while Caineís Deray can build them, enjoys them and has what is a better understanding of them because he is much more able to get his hands dirty.


That speaks volumes of this goofy remake, produced by no less than Irwin Winkler, whose guidance probably stopped this from being worse.Too bad the bland Simon West directs, because he cannot seem to get his hands dirty with a good script.Another theatrical film dud from the CBS Films, the TV network that can barely make enough good TV shows to fit their schedule, does not spoil their record by making another action genre dud.


Tony Goldwyn shows up superfluously as a bad guy in a suit and Donald Sutherland awkwardly fills in for Keenan Wynnís Harry McKenna.Harry has a son named Steve who is also an up and coming assassin, paired working with Bishop to do some well-paying hits, but Bishop kills Harry and Steve does not know this.Jan-Michael Vincent (in his great, all too brief prime before personal disaster derailed his potential career permanently) was Steve and an actor more than able to take on the role from him is cast: the underrated Ben Foster.


Foster is one of the best actors of his generation and was the only hope this film might work, along with Winkler and hopefully Statham giving a strong performance.Instead, Statham is not intense enough and the new script by Richard Wenk (original writer Lewis John Carlino is also credited, but it is hard to imagine what he did or redid, if anything) is a cheat and actually underplays Fosterís Steve to make Stathamís Bishop look smart.This is a writing disaster.To make things worse, Foster steals every single scene in the film he is in, out acts the entire cast and actually saves this from being an outright joke.Statham seems somewhat bored (Why?He can do better than this) and I was at least as bored.Unless you are curious, you will be too.See the original, which has the better ending and more of an edge.What a big missed opportunity.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Destructors can be soft at times, but despite the disclaimer of only being able to get the best print available, this has some great shots, some good color and the print is not in bad shape overall.This was shot by the great Director of Photography Douglas Slocombe, whose action credit alone include the original Italian Job, James Bond film Never Say Never Again and first three Indiana Jones films so you can imagine how good this can look.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is good for its age and has few distortion problems.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on The Mechanic remake is shot by the capable Eric Schmidt, but it is in that phony, post-modern, color-gutted, artificially darkened style that is beyond tired and always adds artifacts, motion blur and other problems that do not show off Blu-ray at its best.At least we get a few nice shots, but it is not as good looking a film as The Destructors.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix fares better with some good LFE effects, warmth and a consistent soundfield, though nothing groundbreaking.


The only extra on The Destructors is an original theatrical trailer, while The Mechanic has BD Live and movieIQ interactive features, Tools Of The Trade featurette and Deleted & Extended Scenes.Hope the original Mechanic hits Blu-ray soon.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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