The Machine is a British science fiction film, currently on Netflix, directed by Caradog James and starring Toby Stephens and Caity Lotz. The film takes place in a world where the West is in the middle of a cold war with China, and Britain, through Stephen’s character Vincent McCarthy, is leading the way in cybernetics.
Vincent works with wounded soldiers in a secretive military base. His research entails putting cybernetic implants into veterans, turning them into proto-cyborgs. Vincent recruits Ava (Caity Lotz) to help him create the perfect cyborg. What is then created goes beyond what anyone could imagine and leads to a debate as to what being ‘alive’ actually means.
There is an unsettling noirish atmosphere smothering the screen from the first moments of the film. The repetitive blacks and greens of the sets giving the film an oppressive tone, which works well with the subject matter. As Caradog James is Welsh and I’m English I am obligated to say that he directs with ‘brio’ although I’m not sure what ‘brio’ actually is. He is, though, clearly a director to watch as he creates a visually striking film on every level despite having a budget so small it would barely cover Captain America’s codpiece. Caradog also manages to coax some excellent performances from his cast.
The problem with the film is that Caradog tries to get every idea he has about the subject matter into the film. Consequently the film raises many ideas without fully exploring any of them. This leaves the viewer feeling somewhat unfulfilled. The philosophical equivalent of getting a rice cake when you were offered a biscuit.
The Machine has the making of a cult science fiction film, and some of you will love it, but for many it will be enjoyable in parts but ultimately disappointing. If Netflix were a box of chocolates this would be one of those ones you’d eat, but would’t go for first.
The Machine – Stranger Views Rating
3/5 Stars. If you want to watch some science fiction horror on Netflix there is much worse you can see, but ultimately this film fails to deliver on its promise. If this really sounds like your cup of tea, but you don’t have Netflix, try Amazon.