Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill star in The Machine, directed by Peter Atencio. The plot is a continuation of Kreischer’s stand-up comedy story about being kidnapped by and partying with the Russian mafia, and the film begins with one member of the Russian mafia crashing Kreischer’s daughter’s birthday party and forcing Kreischer and his father to go to Russia to retrieve a stolen watch. Most of The Machine relies upon the audience knowing about the original stand-up story, despite a few flashback sequences with a younger Kreischer played by Jimmy Tatro. 

The Machine’s appeal trades on Kreischer’s optimism and enthusiasm. He is a bit of a shlub and prone to poor decisions, but his joie de vivre and high-energy antics keep people engaged with a “can’t help but shake your head and smile” mien. To the extent that The Machine shows off the Kreischer character that worked on stage, it is entertaining and will work for Kreischer’s fans. They may even appreciate the film’s few dramatic turns. 

However, whole sections of The Machine think that it is John Wick, and there are extended action sequences that are outside the realm of believability. This is a fundamental problem for two reasons. First, the action sequences do not play to Kreischer’s strengths. Second, Kreischer insists that his school trip with the Russian mafia is a true story, and other plot elements are factual depictions of Kreischer’s life. Yet in the same breath, one sequence of the film depicts Kreischer killing a Russian henchman. A film can purport to be true and a film can be fictional, but it’s dangerous narrative territory to claim to be both. 

As a whole, The Machine is tonally inconsistent at best and unethically bending the truth at worst. While Kreischer’s most devoted fans may enjoy the movie’s charms, there are more serious issues at the heart of the film’s narrative choices.