The Machinist - DVD Review

'if you tell me that you knew exactly what the end was and how this had impacted the Reznik story, I’d call you a bit of a fibber'

It took me a while to write this review. The Machinist is one of those films that you need time to sit back and think about. So I did. I left it for about three days while I pondered the plot, the acting and, more than anything else, the end. Having devoted so much time to it then, in my daily dalliances into the day-dreaming version of the land of nod, it is rather disappointing to have to report that it really isn’t very good.

Which is a shame because I really wanted to like it, mainly because it is solidly anchored by him-of-the-recent-potty-mouth, Christian Bale. In taking on this role, Bale must have thought he was Oscar-bound and certainly if you follow the tick list through there are enough checks present to show signs of encouragement. There’s the much mentioned devastating physical performance, the fact the plot is convoluted and doesn’t make much sense, the fact that it’s really about the internal psyche of a man who may, or may not, be going mad. Bale, however, didn’t get anywhere near, although it is not through want of trying and his is, in the end, the only really worthy watching point in The Machinist.

The problem is the plot which is existentialist and Beckett-esque beyond belief. We follow Bale’s insomniac machine operator, Trevor Reznik as he tries to piece his life together having not slept for a year and finding himself tangled in some sort of plot in and around a mysterious man at work who again, may or may not exist.

And then it finishes. In a way which is tantamount to me ending this review here, or worse, ending the review of The Machinist here and writing a paragraph about a completely different film. Bambi for example.

The point is that there is close to absolutely no connection between the events we witness in the first 1hour 45minutes and the 15minutes or so of ‘conclusion’ we are treated to at the end. That isn’t to say you can’t predict some of what’s going on (which actually might make it worse) but if you tell me that you knew exactly what the end was and how this had impacted the Reznik story, I’d call you a bit of a fibber.

If there is some larger point here, in the bowels of The Machinist, then I must have missed it because in the end, with my three days of thinking complete, I came away wholly unsatisfied from a part-finished, horribly plotted, curtailed, mess of a movie.

If you have seen The Machinist, and possibly enjoyed it, then think back to films like The Sixth Sense, Fight Club and The Usual Suspects. To some degree or another they were all relatively shocking endings, ‘twists’ in some cases. But they were all also completely merited, wholly satisfying and justifiable when placed in the context of the rest of the movies’ events. It is a shame the same cannot be said for The Machinist.


  1. "Must have", not "must of".

    Grammar is a lost art. :(

    1. Correct in the last-but-one paragraph, not earlier in the article. What can I say, my apologies, some of us are fallible. Have corrected.