The Machinist (2004)

Insomnia is a devious little parasite. It can be caused by any number of things, such as an emotional trauma, withdrawal from drugs, or even just jet lag. Serious sufferers can go weeks without sleep, causing major damage to the person's ability to function. The accepted cure for insomnia is not any type of medicine, but rather a type of therapy. First you must pinpoint what exactly is causing someones insomnia, and then work to relieve that issue. Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) is having some problems with insomnia. He has gone over a year without sleep and there does not seem to be a reason why. His lack of rest has left him an emaciated shell of a man who's more bones than body. Reznik spends his sleepless nights either with his call girl girlfriend Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) or at an airport diner talking with waitress Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). During the day he works at a factory operating heavy machinery, an activity dangerous in itself, made even more so by his drowsy state. When new worker Ivan (John Sharian) distracts Reznik while he is helping a friend, a terrible accident occurs that Trevor feels he is being blamed for. His paranoia continues to feed on the accusations from his co-workers that Ivan does not exist. As Reznik's self destructive search for the truth encompasses his life, he starts to learn more than he bargained for. Although not particularly original, The Machinist is a unique thriller deserving multiple viewings.

Christian Bale is without a doubt one of the best actors of his generation. He has consistently taken on various challenging roles and more often than not he is successful. In movies like American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Prestige, Rescue Dawn, 3:10 To Yuma, and this summer's Oscar snub The Dark Knight, Bale time and again takes his roles to the next level and beyond creating unforgettable performances. But what strikes me the most about him is his absolute dedication to his roles. In American Psycho, Bale was in peak physical condition, so much so that when he had to film a shower scene, every woman working on the movie dropped by to watch him. For his role in The Machinist, Bale dropped to a sickly 120 pounds, grossly underweight for his 6 foot frame. That wasn't enough for Bale, who claims to have wanted to drop to 100 pounds, but the filmmakers wouldn't allow him to for health reasons. It got to the point where filming running scenes was painful for him, because he had no leg muscles left. Just one year after The Machinist, Bale starred in Batman Begins, a role that required him to be, once again, in top physical form. Bale put back all his muscle and then some, causing the filmmakers to force him to lose some weight again because he was getting too big. But along with his dedication, Bale's acting ability in The Machinist is impressive. As his character turns from paranoia to hysteria, Bale gives a pitch perfect performance that will ensnare you in his world.

It is very easy to become involved in The Machinist. Director Brad Anderson does a masterful job of giving this film not only just a distinct look, but a feel. The primarily grey and dull atmosphere hypnotizes the audience, drawing them in to the unusual world. It is as though we are looking through the eyes of this poor sleep depraved man and directly at the crumbling world around him. Anderson's expert handle on the pace of the film allowed no room for low points, and only a continuous increase in suspense as every scene passed. The combination of Anderson and Bale brings The Machinist to a status above ordinary, which helps the fact that the script was not exactly fresh. Although not a direct rip-off of any particular film, The Machinist shares numerous elements with numerous films. The twist ending is especially affected by the stale writing because it has been seen countless times. Screenwriter Scott Kosar had only written one film before, and it was the god awful remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. After The Machinist, Kosar penned another remake of The Amityville Horror. When one spends much of his efforts copying and pasting the work of others, it obviously seems to get in the way of their original writings. The story is not totally killed by these cliches, but it is definitely damaged.

The Machinist is an above average thrill ride that is guaranteed to entertain. There is no chance to get bored thanks to the stunning direction and solid performances from the entire cast. It's only downfall being it's predictable ending and altogether average screenplay, The Machinist is not an achievement to be missed. My rating (7.5/10)

Below are pictures that show Christian Bale's ridiculous weight transformations for his roles.

Left: The Machinist

Right: American Psycho

1 comment:

  1. This is a good review, just like all of the others

    I'm going to watch this movie because of you


Movies given a 10/10

  • Milk
  • In Bruges
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Shining
  • A Clockwork Orange