Film Review: THE MACHINE (2023): Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill Have a Blast in an Energetic but Formulaic Action/Comedy
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Film Review: THE MACHINE (2023): Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill Have a Blast in an Energetic but Formulaic Action/Comedy

Jul 28, 2023

The Machine (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Peter Atencio, written by Kevin Biegel and Scotty Landes and starring Bert Kreischer, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Tatro, Iva Babic, Robert Maaser, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Martyn Ford, Jess Gabor, Rita Bernard-Shaw, Nikola Djuricko, Oleg Taktarov, Amelie Child Villers, Aleksander Sreckovic, Set Sjostrand and Mercedes De La Cruz.

Bert Kreischer is a very talented comedic actor but some of his sharp, quick wit works against him in the energetic and fast-moving action/comedy, The Machine. Luckily, Kreischer is cast opposite Mark Hamill. You read that right. The actor who played Luke Skywalker has, perhaps, the second most memorable role of his career here in this very movie. Director Peter Atencio's new film is funny and entertaining even if it is overlong and has a couple of offensive remarks that should have been edited out of the picture.

As the film opens, we get a terrific rock rendition of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" played over the opening credits. Bert (Kreischer), an often shirtless 50-ish year-old man, is throwing a party for his daughter, Sasha (Jess Gabor). Though Sasha doesn't want anything big for her sweet sixteen, Bert goes huge and throws an extravagant party. Bert is publicly known for stealing a watch from the Russian mob over 20 years ago. In fact, Bert prides himself on this fact. But, when a woman from the Russian mafia named Irina (Iva Babic) shows up at his house, Bert must confront his past in order to save Sasha whose life Irina threatens. Meanwhile, Bert's dad, Albert (Hamill) has arrived to pay respects to Sasha for her birthday but, now, must join forces with Bert to head to Russia to return the watch he has "stolen." It might be important to know that Bert is not quite sure of the watch's whereabouts which will keep the audience guessing as to how this plot will resolve itself.

There are so many action scenes that occur in The Machine, it's hard to know where to start. One of the gorier sequences in the film has Bert slicing a mobster's throat and then punching his hand through the guy's severed neck. Such scenes seem a bit extreme for a light-hearted action picture but they’re here nevertheless.

As the plot develops, the audience is treated to flashbacks of a younger Bert (the very good Jimmy Tatro) who was talking about the television show, "Friends" and passing off other people's ideas as his own while studying in college. Eventually, Bert had taken a trip to Russia where he managed to come across the aforementioned watch that is now being sought out by some people who mean business.

Iva Babic occasionally steals the movie as the blonde and tattooed Irina who is absolutely hysterical at times while, at others, a bit menacing too. Babic hogs up the spotlight at the end of the movie as she kills off a key character and emulates Steve Urkel from the old television show, "Family Matters." As her brother Alexei, Robert Maaser also gets some solid scenes himself where he demonstrates some genuine intensity through a fighting match with Bert towards the end of the picture where Alexei faces off with the so-called "Machine," Bert, himself.

Hamill is nothing short of brilliant here as the carpet store owner who bonds with his son while trying to save his granddaughter. There are times that Hamill's personality really makes the audience laugh out loud, particularly with his entrance in the picture where he makes odd sounds with his mouth and, then, again with his commentary about the stores he runs. There's three locations that Albert is in charge of and he makes that fact rightfully known in one of the funniest scenes here.

Stephanie Kurtzuba has a small but pivotal role in the movie as Bert's wife, LeeAnn who is in therapy with her husband and kids as the film starts out. Bert talks about using the "C-word" in this part of the picture and that is an example of some of the crudeness the movie offers which could have been toned down a bit. Kurtzuba is radiant, though, and does a fine job in the picture.

You will particularly enjoy the action sequences in The Machine, especially the tense ones on a train that occur during the movie. The balance between comedy and action is a bit uneasy but Kreischer keeps the movie feeling lighter than it could have with another performer in the role. Kreischer and Hamill's rapport together is nothing short of sublime to watch.

If not for the vulgarity, and overuse of profanity, The Machine could have been a huge hit at the box-office. It's doing so-so right now but has earned high audience scores. Overall, it's a decent film but it's a flawed one, overall. Mark Hamill is having so much fun, though, that you may just go with the premise the movie offers and enjoy the spot-on performance Hamill has added to his career highlights. The Machine is nothing less than an entertaining ride with some really energetic performers making it better than it has any right to be.

Rating: 6/10

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The Machine (2023) Film Review movie Peter Atencio Kevin Biegel Scotty Landes Bert Kreischer Mark Hamill Jimmy Tatro Iva Babic Robert Maaser Stephanie Kurtzuba Martyn Ford Jess Gabor Rita Bernard-Shaw Nikola Djuricko Oleg Taktarov Amelie Child Villers Aleksander Sreckovic Set Sjostrand Mercedes De La Cruz Rating 6