‘The Machine’ is an action comedy film that follows Bert Kreischer and his father, Albert Kreischer, Sr., who are kidnapped by the Russian mafia while on a trip together. Albert Sr., who hasn’t spoken with his son for quite some time, is confused as to what they could have done to incur the wrath of such a powerful criminal organization, but he soon finds out that it’s related to something his son did 23 years ago while on a trip to Russia with his class.
Forced to defend themselves, can the father-son duo fight off the gangsters long enough to escape the country? Directed by Peter Atencio, the film features stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer as himself and Mark Hamill in the role of his father. A thrilling and hilarious ride, the film will have the audience gripping their sides the entire time. But is there any truth behind this misadventure? Read on and find out!
Is The Machine a True Story?
No, ‘The Machine’ is not based on a true story. Co-written by Kevin Biegel and Scotty Landes, the screenplay is based on Bert Kreischer’s eponymous stand-up routine – which later on became his on-stage nickname – about his real-life trip to Russia, and how he robbed his classmates with the help of the Russian mafia. While the story has been narrated countless times by Kreischer on radio, television, podcasts, and live on-stage with varying degrees of embellishments and exaggerations, the crux of it remains the same throughout, as well as the fact that it is a true story.
It begins with Bert taking Russian for two years in college, and having to go on a trip to Russia for a semester to pass the class in the 1990s. The only issue with this whole scenario is that Bert never really bothered to learn more than a few phrases and sentences in Russian, mostly because his professor said that he’d get credits simply for attending the class. While in Russia, the American students and their chaperones were assigned two members of the Russian mafia for their “safety.”
In reality, it was simply to keep an eye on such a large group. The students were instructed not to interact with the two gangsters; Bert, of course, didn’t listen. He bought the two of them vodka and beer the first night and was later introduced to a room full of Russian mobsters with whom he partied the entire night. With his limited grasp of the language, all Bert said to them in the way of an introduction was “Ya machine,” which literally translates to “I am the machine.”
Referred to as “the machine” from that point onwards, Kreischer also gets involved in robbing the bar as well as other people’s luggage on the train they were taking, including those of his classmates. But while the police were called in response to Kreischer’s crimes, he was never charged with anything or even taken into custody because his new friends, the Russian mafia, smoothed out everything for him. ‘The Machine’ takes a departure from reality at this point and begins 23 years after the incident, with Bert portraying a somewhat fictionalized version of himself.
Bert has a wife, a kid, a good career, and best of all – Mark Hamill for a father. Hamill, who’s in his first ever live-action role after Star Wars, told Supanova that he was confused about how violence could be comedic while filming ‘The Machine’ at first, but Bert assured him that it would be. Speaking about what attracted him to be in the film in the first place, the actor said, “I was attracted to the script because of the relationship between Bert and his father. I could really relate to that. I had issues with my father. He was very much different than I was. But I just admire the way the script is so unpredictable.”
However, it’s not just Hamill who associated the story with his real life. While the story is a fictional retelling of his trip to Russia, some aspects of it do reflect Bert’s actual life as well. “…We mirrored a lot of what Bert’s going through in the movie emotionally [with] what I was going through in real life — this identity crisis of, who am I really? Who am I if I don’t drink? Who am I if I don’t take my shirt off on stage? And the daughter stuff was on the nose. I was dealing with my daughter who was growing up and wanted independence, and I didn’t want her to have independence,” the comedian told Looper.
Bert added, “I wanted her to stay my little girl who sings songs on her bike. It mirrored a lot of it. It was really cool.” A fun and thrill-inducing ride for viewers everywhere, it may not be hard for anybody to believe that ‘The Machine’ isn’t a true story with how over the top it is. But it would be even harder to believe that it is based on a real-life incident for anyone not familiar with Bert Kreischer and his work, for the story is “stranger than fiction” in every sense of the word.
Read More: Where Was The Machine Filmed?