Critic Reviews



Based on 10 critic reviews provided by
Sleek, moody, violent and romantic, Sharky's Machine is not only the most seductive Burt Reynolds movie in many a moon. Reynolds is turning into a stylish director, and he sets a distinctive tone of languid menace. Though he can be graphically brutal, Reynolds isn't after realism, but a kind of gauzy, slightly baroque romanticism. [28 Dec 1981, p.64]
Sharky’s Machine contains all of the ingredients of a tough, violent, cynical big-city cop movie, but what makes it intriguing is the way the Burt Reynolds character plays against those conventions.
Mr. Reynolds's third and best directorial effort - the first two were Gator and The End - is an unexpectedly accomplished cop thriller. There is, as is often the case with movies of that genre, less here than meets the eye: the plot has its unreasonable spots, and the story doesn't come to much in the end. But one measure of the success of Sharky's Machine is that it's too fast and exciting for those considerations to count until after the movie is over.
Directing himself in Sharky’s Machine, Burt Reynolds has combined his own macho personality with what’s popularly called mindless violence to come up with a seemingly guaranteed winner [from the novel by William Diehl].
Directing his own starring vehicle, that sly boots Burt Reynolds gives the audience a shamelessly lurid but stylish going-over, while putting a clever new wrinkle or two on his own status.
Chicago Tribune
Burt Reynolds stars as a Dirty Harry-style detective who chases after a high-powered pimp in Atlanta. When Reynolds stays in character, the film works well as a straight thriller. When he winks at the audience with his dialog, the film falls apart. [25 Dec 1981, p.12]
Unfortunately, Reynolds the director is as uncertain about the tone of the picture as Reynolds the star is about his screen persona. So while the action veers from lightweight action to extreme violence, Reynolds' character vacillates between macho tough guy and sensitive, vulnerable leading man.
Burt Reynolds showed signs of becoming a very personal filmmaker with this police thriller, his third outing as a director. It has the wistful faith in innocence and the extreme moral outrage of Gator coupled with the subversive infantilism of The End; what Reynolds lacks in technique (which is plenty) is nearly compensated for by the almost embarrassing intensity of his feelings. The context is extremely violent, which makes the intimate moments—between Reynolds and the girl and Reynolds and his buddies—stand out in agonizingly stark relief.
Reynolds was coasting at this point of his career, with zero risk-taking it ends up as a soulless, below-average movie.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
A rancid, violent police picture starring and directed by Burt Reynolds who, like bad news, is everywhere this year. [19 Dec 1981]

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