2004
Rated: R for graphic violence, disturbing images, adult language, sexual content, and gore.
Genre: Crime Suspense Thriller Drama
Directed By: Brad Anderson
Running Time: 1:42
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 6/22/05
THE MACHINIST

 

"The Machinist" is such an accomplishment, an accomplishment that, big surprise, went almost unnoticed in Hollywood. And what makes it great is it's not American crap. For the life of me, I just can't believe Christian Bale is still considered a relatively unknown actor other than to horror fans who dug "American Psycho". Bale is an utterly amazing actor, this is a man who is, I can say as a heterosexual with an untarnished record, a very good looking guy, who could have used those looks to be the next Colin Farrell selling his ass for really stupid movies and making millions, but, alas, he looks like someone who has intelligence and decided to just make--what's that word-- good movies!

Bale makes excellent movies, and don't deny it, he's a great actor, and the closest he's ever been Hollywood was in that shit "Shaft", and damn it he was a very menacing creepy villain who went unnoticed again. Back then he was unknown, and unfortunately, now he'll be known as "that guy who played Batman", but that's okay. If Bale is as smart as I think he is, he'll use that as a platform for starring in incredible films and return to more Batman movies because he's now under contract, plus the money will be good when he's starring in more low-paying, but original independent films such as "The Machinist". It's utterly refreshing in this day and age to watch a movie so uninhibitedly intellectually stimulating, it's fulfilling to watch a psychological thriller that demands the audience watch, pay attention, follow along, and decipher for themselves without falling in to the usual Hollywood conventions.

Brad Anderson created another very underrated thriller called "Session 9" which was just out of the ballpark excellent, and he instills a lot more of that atmosphere and slow paced tension here for the audience creating such a brilliant Lynch-esque labyrinth of a murder mystery. Bale plays factory worker Trevor Reznik whose basically extremely thin and hasn't slept in a long time. He seems basically content with the hand he's been dealt, that is until a strange series of events suddenly make him think he's being watched and he begins searching for his conspirators. But where his search will lead him will be his undoing.

Bale's first glimpse of himself is shocking. He literally looks like a walking skeleton; Bale who's mostly muscular bears a transformation that is frightening. Spine, ribcage, chest plates, you can see them on him poking through his skin and his torment character is further introduced through layers of psychological torment and memories he just can't shake, nor does he seem to know the meaning to. Like Lynch, clues and surreal imagery pop up from all around the film that serve as signs to the shocking finale, and as plot devices to further relay the tension and atmosphere. Further exploration of the atmosphere that gives a sense of urgency and fear is though the environment around Trevor which is painted in such a sterile, cold, and pale mood that makes this such a grim tale. Is someone out to get him? Is someone trying to kill him or drive him to the edge of madness?

Along with some excellent direction from Brad Anderson, the film's tension mounds as the minutes pass, and you end up wondering throughout the entire story, where's it all leading to? What helps move the story along further are the performances by Christian Bale and John Sharian. Bale is, without a doubt, amazing in this movie, his transformation in to this deformed utterly ghoulish being is shocking and Bale takes it for all its worth stealing the movie. His form is not his human form, he's a monster, his guilt has manifested and eaten him alive. The paranoia, and the murder attempts are his guilt, and as for who Ivan is, it's all left to the viewer to decide. It could be satan, god, his conscience, guilt, sin, a ghost. John Sharian is truly menacing and intimidating as the mysterious Ivan who interrupts Trevor's life and ends up playing a significance to Trevor, later explored in the climax. In the end as all the clues come together like a puzzle it wraps up as you'd expect, and it wraps up ingeniously. It's a truly disturbing and twisted allegorical tale that sells.

Bale proves leaps and bounds yet again that he's one of today's most talented actors taking a shocking transformation with an excellent performance. With a brilliant psychological horror story, and excellent direction, "The Machinist" is a yet to be discovered masterpiece.

  • Bale went from 180 pounds to 120 for the film, and adopted a diet of one can of tuna and an apple.

 

 

 


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