The Machine (2023) – Movie Review

The Machine, 2023.

Directed by Peter Atencio.
Starring Bert Kreischer, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Tatro, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Nikola Đuričko, Iva Babić, Martyn Ford, Robert Maaser, Jess Gabor, Rita Bernard-Shaw, Nikola Djuricko, Oleg Taktarov, Amelie Child Villiers, Marko Nedeljkovic, Jovan Savic, and Aleksandar Sreckovic.


Bert’s drunken past catches up with him 20 years down the road when he and his father are kidnapped by those Bert wronged 20 years ago while drunk on a college semester abroad in Russia.

Coming from director Peter Atencio (and a script from Kevin Biege and Scotty Landes), The Machine is based on the comedy of star Bert Kreischer. For those unfamiliar, his routine on stage (at least from the brief glimpses seen setting up the story) and here on camera boils down to a raunchy version of Kevin James. If that sounds tantalizing and hilarious, knock yourself out. For the rest of us, it’s a long two hours.

Bert Kreischer plays a version of himself here, a famous comedian turned alcoholic screwup family man with a wife and two daughters, who gained popularity from telling a laugh riot story about his drunken college days in Russia and getting involved with mobsters, at one point egged by his peers into stealing an heirloom watch from a Russian crime lord on a train. This thievery hasn’t been forgotten, as the introductory segment shows the boss, 25 years later, elderly and on oxygen for assisted breathing, firing a gun at the TV, airing one of Bert Kreischer’s comedy shows detailing the incident.

While throwing an overwhelmingly large sweet 16 birthday party for his daughter, Irina (Iva Babic), the daughter of this Russian patriarch, arrives unannounced with tattooed bodyguards prepared to kidnap Bert and his estranged and disapproving but visiting father Albert (Mark Hamill), forcing the former to retrace his steps on that drunken night and locate the watch in a power-play against her misogynistic brothers to take over the criminal empire. The gist is that Bert and Albert need to work through their differences so the former can be a better father to his children. They are about to get a lot of unplanned therapy across some dangerous hijinks.

What passes for jokes here are generally lazy (constant remarks about Bert gaining weight over 25 years, a fascination with referencing everything from Austin Powers to Family Matters, standard father-son bickering, and shock value humor at the expense of two average citizens caught up in violent situations). There are some action scenes where Iva Babic is certainly putting forth admirable physicality during gun-fu encounters, but the plot here typically isn’t engaging. Part of the reason is that The Machine takes an ungainly amount of time to blend comedy with action with narrative momentum.

Strangely enough, the strongest stretch in the entire film is an extended flashback that confidently and cleverly edits together the present day and past of the previously mentioned train as Bert walks other characters and viewers through the most intoxicated night of his life (with Jimmy Tatro portraying his younger self) and not only where the watch could be, but how he transformed into becoming someone he is not necessarily proud of even if it paved the way to fame and fortune. The closest The Machine has to anything emotional or moving is a scene of betrayal against a college girlfriend, only for the story to do nothing with it.

Beyond that, The Machine is a race between Irina and her stereotypical machismo brothers (who are such generic villains even for Russian mobsters) to locate the watch and curry favor with their father for control of the criminal empire when he passes. There are some decently funny lines here and there, Bert Kreischer impresses when it’s time to get physical himself, and there is a respectable message about finding balance in life regarding certain responsibilities, expectations, and hobbies. Unfortunately, there’s far too much dead air and jokes that bomb more than actual bombs (Family Matters is quoted during the climax, eliciting nothing but cringe). Meanwhile, Bert Kreischer’s schtick is irritating and gets old fast.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★  / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]


Source via

Leave a Reply