Directed by Brad Anderson.
Written by Scott Kosar.
Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana
Sánchez-Gijón and John Sharian.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 11/8/04
Once again, I was left in the dark about the
new Christian Bale thriller "The Machinist" because I had done
literally no research on it prior to release. I like Bale, and
generally think he's a good actor, so when I saw an ad for this film
while visiting New York recently I figured I would check it out.
Here's what I can confirm--Bale did lose a
LOT of weight to make this movie. In "The Machinist", Bale
stars as Trevor Reznik (not to be confused with Trent Reznor...right?),
a machine operator in California that seems to have a problem--for
the last 12 months, he's been losing weight at an alarming pace and
seems to be unable to fall asleep. His co-workers are getting
worried about him, as is his regular call girl, Stevie (Jennifer
Jason Leigh). His landlady is taking notice of his health
problems, and a new guy at the factory named Ivan (John Sharian) has
Trevor all figured out too. And, what about that dead body
that Trevor tried to roll into the river when the film started?
The first 30 minutes of "The Machinist"
really had me hooked. This is some parts cool storyline (I was
getting a slight "Memento" feeling when we
opened up) and some parts Christian Bale at 135 pounds.
Seriously, while in the theater with my buddy Schmoove and his
fiancée Lucie, all of us were in shock any time Bale would stretch
out or take off his shirt...he takes "bone thin" to a whole new
level, and during one scene I felt so sick to my stomach that I went
through my pockets looking for some kind of snack I could throw at
the screen, just hoping the poor guy would eat! Very
well-filmed dark tones and constant sepia (that just sounds like
cameraspeak, accurate or not) create a mood of gloom and doom that
really sets the stage nicely for a nice little murder mystery.
But after that, "The Machinist" never seems
to capitalize on its intro. The story never gives you any
reason to be engaged after you sense that something is not right
with the world that Trevor is living in; a particularly strange
visit to a local fair leaves you with this whacked-out, "where the
fuck is this going?" feeling, and then the movie just kind of rolls
out what is really going on with all of the characters.
Schmoove couldn't wait to get out of the theater, he was so
disinterested in what was going on; I'll admit, the ending was
neither sexy nor succinct, so some dragging took place as we finally
pulled into the denouement. The
Bale-as-starved-"Thinner"-victim wears thin (no pun intended)
surprisingly fast; the shock effect of his being so slight almost
evaporates in the film's final third. And, you just get kind
of tired of hearing Leigh talking; the woman has literally cornered
the market on cracked-out whores, hasn't she?
Everything about "The Machinist" is strong
early, but the downward spiral that takes place the rest of the
flick left me feeling cheapened by the experience, and certainly
poorer, since this New York City matinee cost me $10.25, the fucking
bastards. Bale does give a banner performance and I'm sure
that somebody will give him an award for it...just not the Oscar.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard