Director: Andrés Caza | Screenplay: Andrés Caza | Cast: Guy Pearce (Bruce Cogburn), Alice Eve (Officer Higgins), Alex Pettyfer (Dwight Tufford), Iris Cayatte (US Marshal Perez), ea | Time to play: 111 minutes | Year: 2022
A movie with a light-hearted theme can easily win the hearts of viewers and become a huge hit, but such a story will never be seen as a profound masterpiece, and it doesn’t have to be. On the other hand, there are stories with a rather heavy theme that tread on thin ice. When the execution is not good, the movie ends as a failure. the hell machine it does it in a strange way: by choosing mystery as a genre when it doesn’t really fit.
Briton Bruce Cogburn lives like a hermit in California and has never written a book since his bestselling debut novel, due to a traumatic experience at the university where he taught. Out of nowhere, he begins receiving letters from a man unknown to him. He at first tells the man to stop, but soon becomes intrigued. That turns out to be exactly the intention, and it leads to a mystery Bruce can’t ignore.
the hell machine is based on a fictional podcast story titled The Hilly Earth Society. There’s not much to be found about it except where to listen to it and that those who have done it are very happy with it. So I have no idea if the theme I saw in it was intended that way. The course of the film and the dialogues about how God is a little boy who treats people as if they were his toys, at least give that impression strongly.
That issue is the question of whether there is such a thing as self-will. At least, if you’re religious, of course, because an atheist has no higher power directing him. In that case, you could extend the problem to the daily manipulation of consumers by companies, or how schools convince their young students of certain ideas that may be unfairly presented as the norm. Anyway: a heavy topic.
Bruce discovers that he is being watched closely and that a game is being played with him in which he always seems to do what is expected. Even when he comes to that conclusion, he still can’t escape. That’s also when the movie becomes a mystery. Until then, this was a movie about a withdrawn writer who doesn’t feel like a die-hard fan but can’t seem to get rid of him despite the threats.
That in itself is really an intriguing story, no matter how small the drama. You wonder where this is taking you, but when the movie turns out to be a thriller, it feels like a mild disappointment. When it becomes clear what exactly is going on depends on the kind of viewer you are: do you care or not for movies in which the protagonist discovers that he is dealing with an enemy who could control him perfectly? predict?
In recent years there have been several movies in which this happened, for example heavy rain, in which Javier Bardem’s character could perfectly estimate where James Bond would be and how he would react to an incident and where it would lead him, etc. Either you love seeing such a great antagonist or you think he’s crazy that everything you just saw turned out to be a fully planned and executed plan. Because in real life, people can be predictable to a certain degree, but not 100 percent.
How that goes with Bruce I’ll leave for the movie. Regardless, it’s a tight production with another compelling role for Guy Pearce. All the technical aspects are executed so naturally that you simply don’t notice them: no hip shots that are so distracting that you realize you’re watching a movie. But it doesn’t look amateurish either: everything is so organic and appropriate that it immerses you in the plot.
The road to the ending is strong and entertaining, but that ending turns out to be a love or hate ending. that doesn’t change that the hell machine Until then it was a well made and entertaining movie, but when the conclusion is not to your liking, it still leaves a bitter aftertaste.
the hell machine can be seen in SkyShowtime.