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The Infernal Machine (2022)

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Frankly, if this man called me up and spouted his inebriated internal diatribe at me for hours on end, I'd probably write to him everyday as well. Mr Cogburn, take a bow good sir, for you are a marvel. As all of us writers know only too well, the pen is mightier than the sword. You can shoot someone with a gun, even a group of people if they're unfortunate enough to have gathered in the same place when you get trigger happy, but the pen can incite nations. It helps if you have something of a suggestable nature and a sometime furtive imagination as recipient, but really, I have forgotten the number of times I have reduced people to tears by something I've written, and frankly, I'm not even that good at it.

Guy Pearce provides one of his best performances as the writer and protagonist that does indeed learn something about himself along the way, as we're told is a pre-requisite for such an individual. When this reclusive author of some note and infamy begins to receive letters from an enthusiastic fan, he is at first annoyed by the unwanted attention. As time goes on and the letters don't stop coming, he uses the nearest payphone to call the fan, advising them quite definitely to stop their harassment.


Although they don't pick up, he leaves a message that can't really be misconstrued. Yet the letters still keep arriving, and so begins an intricate, well-crafted tale of mystery and intrigue unlike many that we have been presented with for some time. It is far from a hurried tale of one mans' unravelling and the pursuit of what he first believes is righteous justice. Alice Eve ably supports as the local law enforcement who is keener than average to help him get to the bottom of the problem, but to say she likely knows more than she is letting on is something of an understatement.


Personally, I was enraptured with the whole thing and was genuinely sad to see it end. Pearce is outstanding, even if he does, at times, sound like he was born and spent a good portion of his existence in Wigan. His accent leapt about all over the place to begin with, but he apparently settled on Lancashire after a while. The denouement is quite predictable if you're really looking for the clues to tie this up before it's laid out in front of you, but no less satisfying for its reveal.



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