DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Brad Anderson
Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
Writing Credits:
Scott Kosar

An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.
$5 million.
Opening Weekend
$64,661 thousand on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $12.99
Release Date: 5/19/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Brad Anderson
• “Manifesting The Machinist” Featurette
• “Breaking the Rules” Featurette
• “Hiding In Plain Sight” Featurette
• 8 Deleted Scenes
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Machinist [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 11, 2022)

“Doing a De Niro” and putting on lots of weight for a movie role doesn’t seem all that impressive. There are plenty of fat slobs out there who chow down incessantly without an Oscar at the end of the tunnel.

As such, why give Bob all the praise for shoving in those extra cheeseburgers for Raging Bull? I used to be fat – where’s my Oscar?

Extreme weight loss for a part, however, takes things to a totally different level, especially when that effort results in the absurd skinniness achieved by Christian Bale for 2004’s The Machinist. Bale endangered his health – and apparently his ability to play the lead in 2005’s Batman Begins - when he dropped more than a third of his weight. This meant the already-fit Bale turned into a literal shadow of himself.

At least he did it for a good cause. It’d suck to go to such extremes for a crappy movie, but The Machinist turns out to be an effective and distinctive flick.

Trevor Reznik (Bale) works at a machine shop. He displays obsessive concerns about cleanliness, he can’t sleep, and he shows extreme weight loss.

Trevor doesn’t interact much with his co-workers as he prefers to stay alone most of the time. He does spend time with prostitute Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and he also visits an airport diner to chat with waitress Marie (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) every night.

Trevor develops an obsession with a mysterious new co-worker named Ivan (John Sharian), and that fascination causes problems. One day Ivan gestures threateningly, and this distracts Trevor during a procedure.

His loss of focus leads to a mechanical malfunction and co-worker Miller (Michael Ironside) loses his arm in an accident. When Trevor tells his bosses that Ivan diverted him, we learn that no such employee works at the shop.

This accelerates Trevor’s downward spiral as he starts to question hs own sanity. He also goes through bizarre events like strange notes that pop up on his refrigerator and a surprisingly graphic amusement park ride. All of this takes us through Trevor’s continued deterioration as we head toward an understanding of the truth.

Although I knew Bale slimmed down for Machinist, I still felt shocked at how emaciated he looked. Bale isn’t just skinny - he’s Auschwitz thin. The movie makes sure we get more than a few shirtless shots of the actor, and these are disturbing to see.

One problem that comes with a stunt such as Bale’s weight loss is that it threatens to become too much of a spectacle. We may not get past his extreme physical appearance to accept him as a character.

Happily, Bale’s fully-developed performance makes sure he avoids those pitfalls. He plays the part in an understated manner that doesn’t present the usual tics and mannerisms used to telegraph a character of questionable sanity. Clearly we know that Trevor has issues, but Bale doesn’t shove them down our throats.

Director Brad Anderson provides a similar tone for the rest of the movie. He creates a dark little world but not one that seems unrealistic.

While the flick unquestionably deals with an alternate reality, it never turns self-conscious or arty. It’s a well-realized environment and setting that accentuates the issues in Trevor’s mind.

My only complaints relate to the film’s obvious Hitchcock vibe, mainly because the film wears too many of its inspirations on its sleeve. The main culprit comes from Roque Banos’s score.

It demonstrates an extreme Bernard Herrmann influence that becomes a distraction. On its own, it’s a good score, but it crosses the line from homage and becomes more of a rip-off.

That weakness aside, The Machinist forms a rich psychological thriller that subtly depicts the mental deterioration of its main character. It doesn’t tip its hat too much as it keeps us in suspense much of the time. Abetted by a strong lead performance, the movie stands out as something unusual and involving.

Footnote: “Trevor Reznik” seems to be an odd play on “Trent Reznor”, the mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails. The names are too similar for this to be a coincidence, but I got no information on the subject in the disc’s extras, as no one ever mentions the apparent homage.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Machinist appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it presented mostly strong visuals, too many concerns cropped up to make this a consistently positive transfer.

No real problems with sharpness occurred, however. Outside of the occasional slightly soft wide shot, the movie remained nicely detailed and distinctive.

Jagged edges and shimmering didn’t interfere with matters, and edge haloes remained absent. With a light layer of grain, I didn’t suspect any egregious use of noise reduction.

However, the movie showed a surprising number of source flaws for a modern flick, as I saw some specks and other blotches. These weren’t overwhelming, but they were more substantial than I’d expect.

Machinist presented virtually no bright hues. Really, the only shots that went with anything more prominent than green-grays or dull ambers were those that featured Ivan, as the transfer offered some light reds during those scenes. Otherwise, this was a tremendously subdued palette.

The movie replicated the visual design just fine, and blacks were acceptably deep and firm. Shadows came across with good definition. Machinist lost most of its points due to source flaws, but it remained generally good.

I didn’t expect much from the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of The Machinist, but it proved surprisingly involving. While it never went hog wild, the soundfield opened matters up well.

Shots at the airport diner or in the machine shop were the best developed, as they demonstrated nice use of all the speakers. Other scenes usually stayed with more general ambience, and they broadened the spectrum smoothly. Elements blended together neatly and moved across the channels with solid clarity and definition.

Across the board, audio quality appeared positive. Speech always stayed natural and concise, with no edginess or brittle tones.

Music was dynamic and rich, as the score offered tight highs and well-developed lows. Effects also came across as accurate and cleanly defined. Not much about the mix required a lot from my system, but it all came together so well that I thought it merited a “B+”.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2005? The lossless audio showed a bit more breadth and oomph.

As for visuals, they boasted the usual upgrade in terms of sharpness and clarity. Unfortunately, both DVD and BD came with the same print flaws. Nonetheless, the Blu-ray became the more satisfying reproduction of the movie.

When we head to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Brad Anderson. He presents a running, screen-specific discussion.

Two subjects dominate: location issues and story concerns. In the former category, Anderson tells us why they shot in Spain and all of the pros and cons of doing so. He also talks about adapting locations and trying to make the area look like the US.

As for story, we learn nice insight into the themes and characters, and Anderson also tosses out many good trivia notes about things we might otherwise miss. He relates many influences, inspirations and references evident in the flick.

In addition to those areas, Anderson tells us a little about the cast and crew, Bale’s weight loss and approach to the role, the film’s look and cinematographic issues, and general production topics. Anderson maintains a light and lively demeanor despite the film’s darkness, and he makes this a winning and informative commentary.

Next comes a 25-minute, 19-second featurette called Breaking the Rules. It boasts interviews with Anderson, writer Scott Kosar, producer Julio Fernandez, executive producers Antonia Nava and Carlos Fernandez, production designer Alain Bainee, director of photography Xavi Gimenez, and actors Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Aitana Sanchez Gijon.

They discuss what Kosar wanted to do with the story and why Anderson hooked onto it, the weight loss issue, problems with financing, filming in Barcelona and location challenges, casting and the characters, stunts and effects, and various problems on the set.

Because Anderson’s commentary covers so much, we really don’t learn a ton here. However, the footage from the production helps make this show worth a look.

We get to see many of the things Anderson discusses and also get a few different perspectives on things. It stands as a good little show despite some redundancy.

Two featurettes not found on the DVD follow, and Manifesting The Machinist runs 23 minutes. It brings notes from Kosar, Anderson, film historian Eddie Muller, critic Mick LaSalle, and actors Michael Ironside and John Sharian.

“Manifesting” discusses the roots and development of the script, what brought Anderson to the project and getting financing, sets and locations, tone and music, photography, cast, characters and performances. This becomes another fairly effective program.

Hiding in Plain Sight spans 13 minutes, 58 seconds and features Anderson and Kosar. The featurette examines themes and hidden meanings. It’s a fun view of the symbolic elements found in the film.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we conclude with eight Deleted Scenes. These last a total of 12 minutes, five seconds, and most provide more clues to the mystery.

I think they tip off viewers more than necessary, but that might be a hindsight thing; it’s easier to see how they’d telegraph points once you know how the movie ends. “Trevor Confronts Mother at Cemetery” is probably the most interesting, but not in a good way; it turns a little maudlin. None of the other clips stand out as particularly strong.

A few of the scenes include optional commentary from Anderson. We get his remarks for “Trevor Tries to Skip Town” and “Trevor Confronts Mother at Cemetery”. He tells us his original intentions for the scenes and why he cut them. His remarks prove revealing.

Perhaps destined to be remembered for its lead actor’s extreme weight loss, The Machinist deserves a better fate than that. It provides a consistently intriguing mystery and psychological thriller abetted by strong acting and a creepy tone. The Blu-ray offers erratic picture with surprisingly effective audio and a useful set of extras. Though not for everyone, I recommend The Machinist to fans of dark dramas.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of THE MACHINIST

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main