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Sharky's Machine
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Reviews & Ratings for
Sharky's Machine More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"Dirty Harry goes to Atlanta"

Author: Michael J Manfredi ( from waterbury, CT
6 March 1999

Reynolds is depicted in this film as Dirty Harry in what has became one of my personal favorite movies of alltime. Although the story is a bit slow moving and sudsy momentarily, at the same time it is eerie and increasingly intense. Burt as the title roll and as directer picks up the dull pace and heats up the screen in one suspense scene after another. I recommend this film to anyone who's a buff of the action genre. I myself actually inherited the nickname "SHARKY" a short time after the movie was released! Has nothing to do with the film but just by coincidence.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Burt Reynolds' best movie.

Author: spence-14
28 February 1999

While he was great in Boogie Nights, I think that this was Burt Reynolds' best performance. He's also a great director and has made a tough, violent movie that doesn't hold back (a hooker's death by 12 gauge) and is an excellent detective story with some great actors (Brian Keith, Bernie Casey, etc.) and an outstanding jazz soundtrack. 10 out of 10

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Dark and violent

Author: Fred Anderson from Sweden
12 January 1999

I would say this is Burt´s greatest film...It´s dark and violent and with a superb cast. A bit slow sometimes, but it´s worth a look.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Burt and his binoculars.

Author: K-e-r-m-o-d-e from United Kingdom
5 April 2010

Burt Reynold's is tough cop Sharky. He likes sitting in skyscrapers and watching things through binoculars. So much so that the whole of this movie has Sharky sitting in a skyscraper watching things through his binoculars. Occasionally, he relieves himself by taking an urgent urination but soon it is binoculars time again. This is exciting! Later in the movie we get a glimpse of Burt sitting in a skyscraper watching things through his binoculars. Then, in an unexpected burst of action, he decides to watch things through his binoculars. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the ending scene where he watches things through his binoculars while in a skyscraper. A few less scenes of Burt watching things through his binoculars would have moved things along a little faster but, on the whole, not bad.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Minor classic - top notch noir thriller

Author: dust-7
30 August 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


One of Reynolds' best, up there with Deliverance (easy to forget this guy gave the world some good films, and some good performances). One of my favorites. And Reynolds directed, as well - heck of a job! It's a tale of dueling 'machines', with a few more good guys left standing, at the end, than bad guys (Sharkey claims 4 in his group, at one point - but it's more). It starts: Sharkey, the cop, gets demoted to - yes - the basement, and the vice division, along with the other 'losers'. They pick up a self-sure hooker at Holliman's rally. But when they get her back to the crowded basement lock-up, she overreacts when accidentally mentioning, in a bitter little screed, the $1000 a night "thoroughbred" of a pimp just being released from custody - and thus begins the grisly tale.

It's a great supporting cast. That's a good deal of the movie, right there. Bernie Casey - "Better get some WINGS!" Earl Holliman as a heavy, a crooked politico on Gassman's 'payroll'. Rat packer Henry Silva, quintessential psycho heavy from back in the 1950s. Brian Keith. Gassman. Durning as part of the 'Reynolds stable', perhaps (pretty much the comic relief, really). Rachel Ward, in one of her most memorable roles. Need one go on? Great cast - maybe THE best Reynolds ever worked with. You can't do a film, like this, without a cast like this. It makes all the difference.

It's been said that Clint Eastwood remarked that while he was making his 'monkey movies' (which aren't so bad on second viewing, perhaps - years later), he saw Reynolds was making an 'Eastwood' movie. You had the cool jazz/RnB opening - just great music; can't hear Street Life, now, without flashing on the opening scene from the chopper down to the train tracks. You had the violence, the raised volume on the gunshots (like Spielberg with Drew's scream in the early video releases of ET). Rachel prob. wasn't quite as edgy, maybe a little rounder in more ways than one than say, a Sondra Locke. But you could see this film with Eastwood - with more of an edge, little less 'smirky', a little less soft and reflective even, beyond the level of personal lament, maybe.

But with the almost film noir/torch song jazz score, and Reynolds, in fact it's more a throwback to the hard detective pot boilers, at least in various scenes, than the fed-up near-assassin of Dirty Harry. It reads, at times, like one of those old crime novels. The early running through the tapes - who does that sound like to you? - views like something some novelists would have written; like a play translated to the big screen. And, throughout, you almost get the sense a few chapters have been dropped, for sake of screen time, as well. You get the same sense of a novel as they peep Rachel from across the street, and Bernie runs on about zen - an anticipation of the bad guy, as we see in the climax of the movie, it turns out. You just 'pull your antenna in'. It's 'metaphysical'.

The killer, the hired 'muscle', of course, is essential. A weak heavy makes for a weak film. And the brother, the dead-eyed Silva is, again, almost the stereotypically believable heavy. He looks utterly - evil, crazy and diabolical, and far too good at what he does; consider his breakdown and murderous reaction to the dismissal by the brother Gassman, before the climax, the insanity of it all, the desperation it suggests for the final scene. Smiley, as the weasel, is believable as that. He's dangerous, and annoying as heck. It's difficult to know why he was in the garage in the opening scene, which ultimately triggered Sharkey's demotion. But that's the chapter that got lost, again, maybe. The 'kung fu' guys, admittedly, do seem a little weak. They hit, and they bounce, and they kick and bump. And nobody goes down until just the last. But it's a minor complaint.

Rachel is little stiff, at times. But we might believe that as part of maintaining her delusions, as borne of money; little rich girl with expensive collectables, a woman of refined 'taste and breeding', it would seem on the surface. And the character likes to hear herself talk, basically. Domino thinks she's just great. And Ward turns in a fine performance. Again, with the noir music behind her crying into the mirror as the whore revealed for the moment, to the outburst and the famous screaming denial to Sharkey who only wants information. It's an interesting, and tragic, character. And she's part of the happy ending.

Overall, it's a good film, with great music, top flight actors turning in some good work. The editing is crisp. The bad team is really bad. The good guys are really in danger, and some don't survive, and some end up permanently maimed. The story moves along with one or two gaps from the book, you just sense. There's some cliche, particularly that the movie gave rise to (as did 48 Hours). The final shootout is a little forced - as in why weren't the stairs crawling with men in blue? But the gunfight between Silva and Casey is remarkable, at that, as is the final suicide an image that stays with you. That is, you can sort of believe the characters, and find yourself in the story. It's a good effort, that way. The only real moral, if there is one, is that for all the flaws of the good guys, Sharkey's tenacity, in various contexts and various scenes, pays off. The bad guys lose their lives or the wicked dreams they'd planned so carefully. And it wasn't even so much due to the machine, as to the one man - as we fade into some lounge jazz, with the neon lights outside the window (or something like that, instead of the playground swing).

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Overlooked modern noir

Author: Jim Kenney from New York
30 June 1999

An intense, dark action drama with unusually rich support from Casey, Keith, et. al, many of whom get the best roles of their careers and run with it. The film is oddly shaped -- often the action slows down just to let the characters get caught up in odd but well-done seemingly improved dialogues -- during the stakeouts, almost all of the "Machine" get caught up in perfectly delivered humorous monologues -- and Reynolds the director deserves mucho credit for having Reynolds the star step back and give them room. And unlike most action films, you really get to like the characters, which makes the 2nd half, when their various destinies good and bad unfold, unusually affecting. The combination of character development, brutal violence, a jazzy soundtrack (Tarantino must be a fan -- watch this & then "Jackie Brown" and you'll see what I'm talking about)make this occasionally flawed film (The bad guys are a bit melodramatic) one of the better modern cop films, and in my mind superior to many of the overrated modern noirs such as "Body Heat" & such.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Slick, entertaining crime flick.

Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
6 May 2015

Burt Reynolds gets to create his own "Dirty Harry" type of role in this Atlanta-set picture. Based on the William Diehl novel, it stars Burt as Tom Sharky, a narcotics detective who switches to the vice department after a bust goes bad. He soon develops an interest in taking down underworld kingpin Victor Scorelli (Vittorio Gassman), although his *real* interest is in Dominoe (Rachel Ward), one of Scorellis' $1000 a night hookers.

Although burdened by some bad dialogue and a script that's not always that compelling, "Sharky's Machine" makes for a decent viewing. The storytelling isn't that tight; although the film runs just over two hours, it feels longer. But all things considered, "Sharky's Machine" does have its pleasures. Burt does a passable job as both director and actor; he dials down his charisma to play his part with a grim seriousness. Ward has some appeal, and certainly is desirable. One does understand how Sharky could develop an obsession with this woman.

Two things really stand out here. One is the jazz score (more "Dirty Harry" influence) with a number of genre greats playing on the soundtrack. Another is Burts' truly excellent supporting cast. Brian Keith, Charles Durning, Earl Holliman, Bernie Casey (whose predilection for Zen philosophy is amusing), Richard Libertini, Darryl Hickman, Joseph Mascolo, Carol Locatell, Hari Rhodes, John Fiedler, and James O'Connell co-star, but it's Henry Silva who tends to steal the show as Scorellis' unhinged, drug abusing brother Billy. Diehl himself plays the role of Percy.

It must be said that the opening tracking shot is extremely impressive, as it starts out as an aerial shot of the city that eventually finds Reynolds as he is walking his way towards an undercover operation.

Although slowly paced, the narrative eventually culminates in an effective little bloodbath, as one character proves incredibly difficult to take down.

If you're anything like this viewer, the overall sleazy tone shouldn't bother you.

Six out of 10.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Dirty Burt.....

Author: FlashCallahan from Leicester, United Kingdom
4 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tom Sharky is a narcotics cop in Atlanta who's demoted to vice after bust went wrong, and a member of the public was killed in the process.

In the depths of this division, while investigating a high-dollar prostitution ring, Sharky stumbles across a mob murder with government ties, and responds by assembling his downtrodden fellow investigators.

This forms Sharky's titular machine and they strive to find the leaders and bring them to justice before they kill off all his partners and witnesses.

Including Sharky himself........

From the upstart of the movie, its a totally different move for Reynolds. Deliverance aside, he was best known for making comedies, so once Eastwood went into his territory with Bronco Billy, he decided to reverse his roles.

And it's a pretty brutal affair. The opening set piece sets the tone for the mood of the whole film, and it's directed solidly by the actor, who makes the mood sometimes almost unbearable.

The mid section is a little stodgy unfortunately though, with the 'machine' looking for extra exposition, and Sharky spending a little too much time staring at Rachel Ward through a lens.

But it's Silva who steals the thunder from everyone. He is truly psychotic as the PCP riddled killer, and the final set piece is genuinely gripping right until the spectacular, record breaking fall.

And it skips to Reynolds and Ward playing with a tyre swing, and then it just finishes, which really feels out of place, especially as the mood swings so rapidly.

So its a totally watchable thriller, but it's nothing out of the ordinary, and despite surprising brutal side to the narrative, these thrillers were ten a penny in the eighties.

Which isn't a bad thing.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Best Action Movies Ever

Author: drewman-3 from United States
7 December 2014

This is a movie, like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, that I've seen a million times, and still enjoy popping in the DVD player every now and then.

It's got everything, great script, characters, film score, camera work, etc. Burt Reynolds surrounded himself with excellent people, and they created a real gem.

The supporting cast in particular, are the highlight of this film. Bernie Casey is a real standout, as the detective Arch. Low key, yet memorable portrayal with lots of nuances in his character. Totally owns all of his scenes.

Sharky's team of investigators, Henry Silva as the drug addicted assassin, and Rachel Ward turn in superb performances as well. Can't leave out the late great Dar Robinson either, doing the spectacular fall from the Atlanta Hyatt Regency.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Re-edited down to 90 minutes this would be a far superior film .....

Author: merklekranz from United States
30 July 2012

"Sharky's Machine" is a very frustrating film to watch. On one hand you have a compelling storyline, good acting by an intriguing cast, and tough action. Unfortunately the bursts of violence are strung together by some of the most tedious sequences ever. The surveillance of Rachael Ward goes on and on until it becomes nothing but a damn annoyance, and there are numerous other scenes that could have been trimmed or eliminated. If "Sharky's Machine" were re-edited down to 90 minutes it would be a far superior film. I realize this is never going to happen, so I suggest living with the fast forward button and doing your own re-editing. - MERK

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