The Machine Review

Bert Kreischer is hilarious in this blend of his iconic stand-up routine with a John Wick-esque action extravaganza.

Plot: Set 23 years after the original story which inspired it, The Machine finds Bert Kreischer facing familial crisis and the arrival of his estranged father when the ghost of his booze-soaked past arrives: a murderous mobster hellbent on kidnapping Bert back to the motherland to atone for his crimes. Together, he and his father must retrace the steps of his younger self in the midst of a war between a sociopathic crime family while they attempt to find common ground.

Review: This weekend boasts two theatrical films featuring stand-up comedians with dedicated fanbases in stories about their relationship with their father. Both Sebastian Maniscalco and Bert Kreischer have performed elements of the stories at the core of their big-screen adventures, but the results could not be further apart. While About My Father is a wholesome bromance centered on the culture clash of two families, The Machine is a balls-to-the-wall action movie that is even more of an everyman John Wick than the Bob Odenkirk-led Nobody. The Machine is a fictional sequel to Kreischer’s true story of the same name with a maxed-out array of gunfights, slap fights, and over-the-top violence that would make David Leitch blush. In short, The Machine is hilariously awesome.

The Machine,Bert Kreischer,Mark Hamill

Bert Kreischer, who has a dedicated fan following, plays a slightly fictionalized version of himself. The fictional Bert is in therapy following an embarrassing event with his daughter and trying to bring his family life back together through clean living and exercise. Bert also has a strained relationship with his father, Albert (Mark Hamill). Albert owns a carpet company in Florida and doesn’t understand why people think his son is so funny. During his daughter’s Sweet 16 birthday party, a Russian mobster named Irina (Iva Babic) comes to reclaim a watch that Bert stole from her father two decades earlier, as described in his infamous comedy routine. Taking Bert and his father to Russia, Irina forces the comedian to retrace his steps to find the missing watch. Flashbacks are then interspersed through the film featuring young Bert (Jimmy Tatro) experiencing the Russian train robbery that seemed like a funny joke.

While the flashback reenactments of the routine are fun throwbacks full of memorable songs from the 1990s, it is the trio of Kreischer, Hamill, and Babic highlights this film. Bert Kreischer has no issue making fun of himself but manages to do so in a relatable way that pokes fun at his real-life persona and the man underneath it all struggling with his dad and being a father. Mark Hamill is hilarious in a role vastly different from anything he has ever done. Hamill plays Albert as a loving father who may not have the best bedside manner, but once he gets some drugs in his system, all bets are off. Hearing Hamill swearing and acting stoned is hilarious on their own. Iva Babic is a welcome surprise here as the de facto action star of the film. As Irina, Babic kicks ass and takes no crap from anyone as she deals with her own daddy issues. This affords a closeness between Bert and Irina as they journey to find the watch that started this whole mess.

With most of the action set in Russia, we are given a rollercoaster ride from location to location, which means confrontation with various mobsters and factions set up many action sequences. From warehouses to penthouses, dorm rooms to trains, and even a small village, there is no shortage of foes for Bert, his dad, and Irina to face. Familiar character actors like Martyn Ford, Robert Maaser, and Oleg Taktarov make solid bad guys. At the same time, Nikola Duricko, best known for playing Yuri in Stranger Things 4, is great in a key role. The action is gory and violent, making The Machine a bloody companion to the slate of John Wick-inspired movies in recent years. Some of the kills here are hilariously brutal, and it all culminates in a final sequence that has got to be seen.

Writers Kevin Biegel (Scrubs) and Scotty Landes (Ma) do a solid job of transforming Bert Kreischer’s real-life adventure into a sequel that retraces the original story while turning it into a pretty damn good action movie. The Machine is Key & Peele director Peter Atencio’s first effort since 2016’s Keanu, itself a surprising action movie. The Machine gets away with being as over-the-top as it is because of the chemistry between Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill, who plays a believable father and son. The stunt choreography directed by Roger Yuan, who has worked on Jason Bourne, John Wick 3, Dune, and many more big films, delivers sequences that would be impressive even in a serious movie. That makes The Machine funnier because the jokes come through in insane action moments. Just seeing shirtless Bert Kreischer holding his own in hand-to-hand combat is worth the price of admission alone.

I had a blast watching The Machine. Fans of Bert Kreischer will be very happy with this continuation of his original story, which is gloriously violent and profane. Mark Hamill is perfect as the senior Kreischer, while Iva Babic will hopefully garner a lot of projects based on her turn in this film. The Machine resembles John Wick‘s innovative action, Borat’s European humor, and Bert Kreischer’s irrepressible charm. If throat punches and drop-kicked dogs are not up your alley, steer clear. Everyone else, down your drinks and get ready because The Machine is the real deal and deserves to be watched in a theater full of fans ready for big-screen comedy.

The Machine




About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.