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‘The Machinist’ Director Brad Anderson Is Looking For A ‘Restart’

'The Machinist' Director Brad Anderson Is Looking For A 'Restart'

Yeah, that headline is a bit snarky for a reason. When “The Machinist” arrived in 2004, it became an almost instant cult favorite and put director Brad Anderson on the map. But since then, he’s yet to have a project match that level of acclaim (there’s a reason all his new projects are always listed as “from the director of ‘The Machinist’ “). Let’s face it, that Christian Bale flick hasn’t aged very well (though the actor’s transformation is still impressive) and Anderson hasn’t really had the best trajectory either, going from the somewhat starry “Transsiberian,” to the forgotten “The Vanishing On 7th Street” to what must be a nadir with this spring’s “The Call.” Sure, he’s helmed some TV in between – “Fringe,” “Boardwalk Empire” – but we’re nearly a decade on from “The Machinist” folks….

Anyway, Anderson is currently working on the horror “Eliza Graves” which has an improbably decent cast with Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine (but we’ll see how that turns out), and after that it looks like he’ll pivot towards “Restart.” Based on the book “No Way Back” by Matthew Klein, the Gregory Poirier (“National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” “Rosewood“) scripted film is said to be in the ballpark of “The Game” and “Unknown,” centering on an ordinary man who discovers that his entire life is being infiltrated and manipulated by a terrifying criminal network, . RUH-ROH.

It’s a premise that’s potentially interesting but also potentially derivative, so we’ll just wait and see. Put it on the backburner for now and keep your eyes peeled for “Eliza Graves” in 2014.

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Whether they were hits or simply forgotten, most of his films have the critical acclaim that would be envious of most working directors. With all due respect for The Machinist, that wasn't close to what he's shown to be capable of. I'm thinking of the underrated Session 9 and of course, Next Stop Wonderland.

Even studio gigs like The Call benefitted from his direction.


The Machinist hasn't aged well? Oh Playlist, just when I think you couldn't possibly sink any lower you find a way to take a deep, deep lunge. Oh, well.


Anderson was known and respected prior to The Machinist, as has already been stated. His debut Next Stop Wonderland was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. There's no doubting his career has hit a creative lull following the interesting trainwreck that was Vanishing on 7th Street and the middling but certainly not bad director-for-hire gig The Call (which, again, made $50 million on a $10 million budget… his biggest commercial hit by far) when compared to his previous 5 films, but that's a pretty solid batting average. His TV work has been strong and he's hardly alone these days in taking time off from filmmaking to work on cable (I guess Rian Johnson was washed up when he went to do Breaking Bad and Terriers). So try to dial back the impotent blogger rage maybe? It's not appealing or humorous or clever, its just tiring and emblematic of the worst of the internet.


That is a really weird take on Anderson's career. Transsiberian didn't set the box office on fire but got rave reviews (and is a pretty great movie). The Call may have been a critical failure but was a big financial success — his biggest ever, in fact. Plus, he's done consistently strong work on TV, and he was already well-known prior to The Machinist. Session 9, Happy Accidents, and Next Stop Wonderland all have sizable cult followings of their own, especially the Session 9, which routinely shows up on "horror best of" lists.

Alan B

The article's narrative of Brad Anderson's career is … curious. I find it a little weird that 'The Machinist' is deemed not to have aged well because I saw it recently and it seemed to have aged quite fine. 'The Call' may be his 'nadir', but it was also the box office success he badly needed and the reason why this film was able to be made so soon after his previous one. His television work is really exceptional: his understanding of staging – especially left-to-right/right-to-left composition – is exceptional on 'Boardwalk Empire'. And it's a little odd that you didn't mention 'Next Stop Wonderland' considering that Weinstein screwed him over bigtime on that film. He has ALWAYS been a very talented and visually accomplished director who maybe hasn't had some of the best projects or budgets (he manages to get a lot from the miniscule budget of 'The Machinist').

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