The end is the beginning.
Fractured movie review by Brad Anderson.
How can you wake up from a nightmare if you are not asleep?
Trevor Reznik, The Machinist, dir. by Brad Anderson
To survive might not always be the happiest of choices. Less poetic but more eager to prove this sentence right, the main character of Anderson´s latest arrival, Ray Monroe - Sam Worthington, probably underplaying the irony of the name as no ray of light will give him clarity - rushes the hallways of an eerie hospital, amidst the Lynch´s wide Universe of “nowhere”, in a desperate search for his daughter Peri - actress Lucy Capri - and wife Jo - Lily Rabe - who have disappeared in the hospital after being taken for examination.
The opening has seen them on the way back from Thanksgiving, during a safe-drive of a recovering alcoholic father, with a tense atmosphere hinting to less than a pleasant holiday time before. Subtly put in the claustrophobic atmosphere Anderson knows well, the dialogue between the partners is ceremonious enough, a silent nagging over the mundane tasks of a husband as the head of the family, while they both gently regard their only child in the back of the car with soon-to-be-broken headphones.
The sense of an ominous doing grows as they pull up at the resting spot, mom and dad agreeing to disagree and postpone the malice for a more homely. Here we will bitterly recall a stroke of genius in the quick cut between the counter scene where Ray has to decide if he will take batteries or a couple of shots. Rushing it forward to the seconds where the plot thickens, we see the daughter falling head onto a construction site, followed by Ray while they are both awoken sometime later by Jo.
Meek, washed-out imagery with greenish hallways and howling deserts on a highway road, the delivering of the world as we know from Transsiberia (2008) and Machinist (2004), with its grim loneliness layered with self-accusation, is fully present, if in this case somewhat underwhelming. A nagging feeling of something-is-not-right-but-I-have-seen-this-already will grab anyone who has seen Memento (Cronenberg) as we are led to assume the repeated echoes in Ray´s head are the remains of the broken, nay, fractured memory of what truly happened. Ray´s family stays with us in some fleeting images of reconciliation, his wife sitting on a chair next to him or waving from an elevator going down to the CT-unit, his daughter blissfully calm, both just far enough to wonder if one of the whispers saying They are both gone is the truth.
Gulfed between the question of the main character´s sanity and conspiracy theory, the story follows an almost Taken-paced search, with Ray in one moment injecting himself with no less but three ampules of adrenaline. The pace does not ease until the last couple of scenes linen with two unknown dead bodies in the back of the car and the sickening sound of the head impaling on metal closing the movie.