Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

WTF was this?  First things first, allow me to go on record as saying this is possibly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  With that out of the way allow us to spend the next few words heaping praise on writer / director / star Michael Lazar for this monumental accomplishment he’s just pulled off.  You might ask “What accomplishment?  He’s made a crappy movie – who couldn’t pull that off?”  Let me tell you that I’ve seen plenty of films of this ilk, shot on ridiculously grainy digital video, poorly directed, poorly acted, poorly lit films, but this one had some reasonably big name talent in it.  Now of course it would seem, considering his body of work, that if the check doesn’t bounce you can get Michael Madsen to appear in your movie, but Neal McDonough certainly doesn’t fall in this category and can still be seen in the big time Hollywood productions here and there and though James Russo is some twenty five or so years removed from ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ he too still shows up in a decent production every once in a while.  How Michael Lazar convinced these dudes to show up in this completely terrible movie is a marvel of marvels.  I said it before and it bears repeating, I’m not gonna pay these dudes car notes or pay their rent so they can act whatever the hell they want, still, ‘Machine’ is scraping about as much off the bottom of the barrel that you can get.

I’m going to try and work through the plot here as it as waaaaay overly complicated, but it seems that Lazar is playing some character named Vic who used to be a Army commando of some sort and may be a cop, or used to be a cop, but is now working for a mob boss named Cho.  He meets up with Butch (Russo) who may be a cop, but it’s never quite explained and they go to the bar to meet up with Billy or something (Madsen) who is a hired killer / barfly / or something or another that is also never quite explained.  At the bar they talk about something having to do with a heist, and also at this bar is Mob boss Santo (Nick Vallelonga) who has just given the bar to Layla

(Michelle Lombardo) who is the ex-girl of ex-cop Frank (Paul Sloan) who is Vic’s buddy.  Also at this bar (I’m assuming Michael Lazar is friends with owner of this joint) is Thea the hustler who appears to be Vic’s girl and she is planning some deal with some pimp dude, until they are harassed by vice cop Ford (McDonough) who goes around shaking down criminals for 10,000 dollars.  Now all of that I just described has very little to do with anything because Vic decides to do a job with Frank and another guy which gets them in trouble with Boss Santo and now Santo wants Vic to eliminate three witnesses who are going to testify against him for murder. 

We spend pretty much the rest of the movie watching Vic and Frank drive around and do a series of disconnected jobs and hits, with none of the so-called narrative ever coming together to form a single cohesive story line.  Then at the end it seems that Lazar had the nerve to give us a ‘twist’ which was almost more than I could take so I walked to the nearest window of my home and hurled myself out of it.  Fortunately I only fell three feet.

There was one good thing about this movie, and actually it was one really good thing and that was the performance of Neal McDonough.  His performance isn’t enough to keep ‘Machine’ out of the Garbage Corner, but his dirty cop was slick, funny, vile and completely over the top.  I’m actually thinking that though Lazar’s script seemed lame with weak dialog, watching McDonough deliver his lines it is possible that this is what he actually envisioned for his script, he just didn’t have enough decent actors, including himself, who could accurately deliver the dialog.  Even Michael Madsen seemed awful in this, that is until he was acting besides one of the other thespians in this thing, and you realized that Madsen on a bad day – and this was a bad day – is still miles better than most of these cats on full nights sleep.

Despite the lousy camera work, lousy acting, lousy dialog, lazy direction and poor lighting, if the story was just logical enough to follow then this wouldn’t have been SO bad, but our screenwriter was apparently channeling Mario Puzo through a broken Ouija board (is Mario dead?) and had to fill in the blanks on his own.  The results were so convoluted and confusing that you’ll probably stop giving a damn after the first ten minutes.

Other than giving me a new found respect for Neal McDonough who gave his best shot in role that probably barely covers three notes on his C-class Benz, one would be wise to steer way clear of ‘Machine’.

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