Director: Peter Atencio
Cast: Bert Kreischer, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Tatro
Release Date: August 15, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Bert Kreischer rose to fame as a stand-up comedian known as The Machine, and in his signature set he recounts his true experience with Russian mobsters while on a booze-soaked college trip. Now, 23 years later, that trip has come back to haunt him as he and his estranged father (Mark Hamill) are kidnapped back to Russia by the mob to atone for something they say he did. Together, Bert and his father must retrace the steps of his younger self (Jimmy Tatro) in the midst of a war within sociopathic crime family, all while attempting to find common ground in their often fraught relationship.
Please Note: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Inspired by his popular stand-up routine, ‘The Machine’ follows Bert Kreischer at the top of his career largely thanks to his popular bit about a booze-drenched college trip to Russia where he became acquainted with the Russian mob. Now, 23 years later and struggling to balance his work with his family life, Bert can’t resist going all out for his daughter’s party whether she wants him to or not. But when his estranged father arrives unexpectedly, followed by Russian mobsters looking for the legend Bert became way back, he and his father end up being captured and transported back to Russia to help locate something he apparently got his hands on during his college trip. The only problem is that Bert remembers almost nothing from his trip and the Russian mobsters holding him and his father aren’t likely to show much patience as he attempts to figure it all out.
Directed by Peter Atencio (Keanu, TV’s Key and Peele) from a screenplay written by Kevin Biegel (TV’s Cougar Town) and Scotty Landes (MA), based on The Comedy of Bert Kreischer, Atencio does a capable job at the helm of ‘The Machine’ guiding along the goofy action comedy with a fitting tone and pace. The film’s cast includes Bert Kreischer (TV’s The Shield), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Jimmy Tatro (TV’s Home Economics), Iva Babić (Escort), Stephanie Kurtzuba (TV’s Tulsa King), Jessica Gabor (Run Sweetheart Run) and more, with the majority offering generally solid or at least fitting performances altogether in each of their respective roles.
‘The Machine’ is an amusingly vulgar, violent and over the top action comedy that benefits from its willingness to take things to one ridiculous and over the top place after another while sprinkling the silly fun with some real threats behind it and a surprising amount of bloody violence along the way. It’s a fairly clever concept that uses Bert’s popular standup routine and then takes it to an entirely different level while merging it with his modern life to a degree and the result ends up being somewhat hit or miss. While everything about it might not land as smoothly as intended, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of fun to offer and enough wildly over the top moments and situations to keep viewers engaged while also laughing quite frequently in the process.
It seems safe to say that no one is going into ‘The Machine’ expecting the next multi-Oscar winning film or anything groundbreaking and the filmmakers as well as the stars all seem well aware of this and wisely embrace its inane style and nature instead of trying to craft it into something it’s not and never should be. Fans of Bert Kreischer’s comedy in general will probably end up appreciating this one more than most but even the casual viewers who appreciate a simplistic, funny and enjoyable ride ought to still enjoy this one for what it is, and that’s a goofy, unapologetic ride packed with laughs and action throughout; not to mention some hilarious and cleverly paced references to the sitcom Family Matters which oddly enough stick out more than many other tidbits throughout its duration.
Overall, ‘The Machine’ is a fast paced, funny and often surprisingly violent action-comedy inspired by the comedy of Bert Kreischer that takes viewers for a wild, over the top and hilariously ridiculous ride into the world of the Russian mob as one man and his father must find a way to help or outsmart them before paying the ultimate price. ‘The Machine’ may not be anything monumental or masterful, but it has plenty of laughs and fun to offer and is especially recommended for fans of Bert Kreischer who are liable to appreciate it more than most. Casual viewers who enjoy a somewhat silly action-comedy that isn’t afraid to go all out should also have a lot of fun with this one and if you’re already intrigued by the film it should at the very least prove worthy of your time and the cost of a rental to give a chance.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Machine’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks quite good altogether and provides a sharp, smooth and well detailed presentation that holds up nicely from start to finish and never suffers from any unexpected issues or problems to be uncovered along the way. Everything within from character specifics to the backgrounds and settings look sharp and clean, as do the darker and faster moving sequences which always hold up capably in their own right. The film often utilizes bright, vibrant colors throughout which look consistently rich and bold here, while the black levels also hold up and look good every step of the way. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation that should easily satisfy fans and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack is certainly no disappointment itself and it serves up a clean, crisp and often notably hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly takes full advantage of all five available channels in order to send everything from music, bullets and other action effects, along with vehicle activity, nature content and more throughout the various speakers at every logical opportunity, while always making certain that any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously remain clean and fully audible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds great throughout and contributes some additional fun and excitement to the viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Machine’ features a nice helping of amusing extras that fans should appreciate. Included on the release are a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 8 minutes in length altogether), along with some ‘Outtakes and Bloopers’ (running approximately 2 minutes). Also included are some other fun videos and Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage, premiere footage and more including ‘Bert’s Big Bash’ (running approximately 16 minutes), ‘Bert, Bruised and Brawlin’: The Action of The Machine’ (approximately 7 minutes), ‘The Making of The Machine’ (8 minutes) and ‘The Cast of The Machine’ (9 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
‘The Machine’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Screen Gems, Legendary Pictures & Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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