“‘The Machine’ Review: Bert Kreischer’s Action Comedy Delivers”
I was introduced for the first time Bert Kreischer‘s “Machines” part during my Thanksgiving break from college. My friend was pouring authentic Russian vodka and while we were hanging around he decided to show me and another friend Kreischer’s piece. I’ve always had a love for stand-up comedy, but Kreischer’s way of telling stories and making me laugh was really something special. The next day I watched both of Kreischer’s specials on Netflix and quickly became a fan of his. For those unfamiliar with the legend of The Machine, the story goes that as an exchange student, Kreischer partyed with the Russian mafia, which led to him robbing a train with a gang of gangsters.
When it was announced that Kreischer would be making his film debut The machine, I was obviously very excited. Directed by Peter Atenciowho did the greatly underestimated Key & Peele Movie Keanu, and co-star Mark Hamill As Kreischer’s father, it was cool to see Kreischer getting the chance to tell this story on the big screen. Unfortunately, for a while it looked like the film was in danger of being shelved due to the Russia-Ukraine war. This prompted Kreischer to take matters into his own hands. He “leaked” the trailer and the positive response led to Legendary Pictures working with Sony to release the film.
In The machineKreischer plays a fictionalized version of himself. Much like his real-life counterpart, he rose to fame for telling his Machine story on stage, which has led to his merchandising deals, late-night talk show appearances and the hugely successful podcast with moderated 2 bears 1 cave with his best friend Tom Segura. The beginning of the film is a difficult time for Screamer. His partying has gotten completely out of control so he live streamed his 16-year-old daughter Sasha (Jessica Gabor) is arrested and has his stand-up tour canceled due to “family issues.” While throwing a sweet sixteen party for Sasha, Screecher is annoyed by the appearance of his father, Albert (Hamill), with whom he has a strained relationship. Party plans soon falter when Irna (Iva Babić), the daughter of a Russian crime boss, kidnaps the father and son to Russia to retrieve something that Kreischer stole from her father when he was a student.
“The Machine” starts slowly before picking up the pace
One of the aspects that stands out the most The machine is just how dark it gets. It’s not hilarious as often as one would expect from a stand-up comedian’s film debut. In fact, when we first meet Screecher in the film, he’s nothing like the person we’ve seen in stand-up or podcasts. In fact, he’s completely unsympathetic and an absolute trainwreck that destroys every positive relationship he has. This makes the entire first act of the film rough. Almost all of the one-liners and jokes are completely useless and make the film seem extremely clumsy. The pacing for the first 30 minutes is sluggish and made me dread the rest of the film’s nearly two-hour runtime.
Once the characters make it to Russia, The machine becomes much more comfortable. The jokes still aren’t as frequent and effective as fans would like, but the action is surprisingly well shot and choreographed. There aren’t many fast cuts and Atencio really lets the violence shine through. It even dares to get a little gross. Also as Atencio and as a cameraman this is not an ugly film Eigil Bryld give the film a surprisingly cinematic look, especially when the characters visit Russia. From the grandiose gangster-occupied palaces to the quaint villages and the train, the film is more than competent on a technical level.
Kreischer brings his stage persona to the film for better and for worse, as it’s sometimes wiped out when the film tries to have quieter moments. He plays himself as a Homer Simpson guy. He’s goofy, a little dimwitted, but still has a good heart at the end of the day. Hamill is also useful in his role, but unfortunately there isn’t really much chemistry between him and Kreischer and they feel like a mismatched couple. Jimmy Tatro is believable in his role as a younger Bert. He is able to capture many of his mannerisms and comedic timing. What really stands out about the film, however, is Babic as Irina, who plays both a badass femme fatale and is able to pull off some genuinely hilarious one-liners. Babic also works excellently with Kreischer. Their banter among themselves is the focus of the film’s best moments, when Screecher has to remove a piece of splinter from her leg.
“‘The Machine’ is pointless”
admittedly The machine Runs way too long, especially for a comedy. Just when you think the movie is about to end, he decides to keep going for another 30 minutes. The jokes still don’t occur often enough either, and often the film tries to be funny by skipping a one-liner or two, but that’s nowhere near as effective as it should be. Plus, the pace feels everywhere. There is a subplot in the film’s flashbacks about a possible romance between a young Screecher and a classmate that goes nowhere and doesn’t add much to the film either, especially since Screecher’s character is already married to another woman. You never really feel emotionally connected to the characters either, as the film struggles to balance a rather mean and cynical sense of humor with moments that are meant to come from the heart and instead just feel awkward and out of place.
It’s really great to see comedy like this one more time on the big screen, and Kreischer’s ability to market this film is an achievement in itself. The machine It has enough of its own to warrant a recommendation to fans of Kreischer’s stand-up comedy, but other viewers may be left empty-handed.
The machine is playing in the cinema now.