Dinah's Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.7/10
(2 reviews total)
Machete is full of one-liners. My favorite: “Machete don’t text.” This brings to mind a recent scene in The Expendables, a film that Danny Trejo was cut from. Yet he and Steven Seagal made the right choice with the picture they made instead, giving them each more of a showcase for the flair they bring to the screen.
Machete (Trejo) gives Jason Voorhees a run for his title with all the glorious knife-wielding and bloodletting. Machete keeps his blade sharp enough and his muscles strong enough to slash through a slew of bodies with the same ease and comfort of putting on deodorant. None of the action is played down. Every household item becomes a weapon, as do body parts. It’s the type of film where villains carry flamethrowers rather than matches.
Trejo is just the man to pull off this character. He is one of the most prolific actors in the business and easy to spot with his weathered face and long dark hair. Yet he has never been much of a headliner or a star. His venture into the forefront is both long awaited and quite entertaining. Machete has all the appeal of a typical Rodriguez film though it is somewhat awkwardly placed in a preachy political context.
Some may find the subject matter and execution a bit uneven. Senator Mclaughlin (Robert De Niro) may as well be Senator McCain. Instead of Arizona being the state embroiled in immigration reform, Mclaughlin represents Texas. A local militia terrorizes border-crossers while the politician joins in and tapes the executions. A race war is brewing and Machete finds his way in the middle when he is contracted to kill at a political rally and subsequently double-crossed.
He is harbored by Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), a revolutionary and the leader of an underground railroad for illegal immigrants. He is also closely tailed by Sartana (Jessica Alba), an immigration agent conflicted between enforcing laws and remaining loyal to her countrymen. Seagal plays Torrez, a dirty Federale who murders Machete’s family and wants him dead. In the meantime, the contractor (Jeff Fahey) has trouble keeping his wife and daughter in line as he attempts to gather his minions to kill Machete as well.
Rodriguez seems to question whether it is right to send your local gardener, busboy, or day laborer back to their home country after they’ve made perilous journeys to achieve the American Dream. He is ever clever in his editing, making his point known. He often pans to what should be presumed are illegal immigrants doing typical work as the story of their fate in Texas unfolds around them.
Rodriguez saves the humor for the second half of the movie. He savors certain jokes, allowing them to linger before letting them drop at the last moment. Allow your eyes to wander to the background; you just might catch a little comedy apart from the central action. At times the humor became unbelievable and a bit forced. Expect the movie to wink at itself or as I like to quote from Family Guy, "it insists upon itself.”
Then there are the characters that are inherently funny. Cheech Marin is the most memorable as Machete’s brother Padre. He has retired from the force and become a priest, though not a very ethical one. The entirety of his scenes are hysterical. Lindsay Lohan’s character April, on the other hand, was likely written to be comical but fell dead flat. Her entire storyline could have been written out without a batted eyelash.
Michelle Rodriguez is the only girl in the cast to keep her clothes on and she may just be the sexiest woman to don an eye patch on screen. She manages to channel both Linda Hamilton and the Terminator as she blasts her way through a crowd in black low-rise jeans and matching bra. She is also saddled with four guns in place of a normal girl’s pearls and bracelets. Rodriguez plays her role well, only lapsing once early on in an exchange with Jessica Alba.
Alba, who is just as pretty as any Hollywood starlet is expected to be, is unfortunately a glaringly bad actress. She plays out her dialogue with blank stares and eye rolls. Her soliloquy in the climax of the film almost made me cover my eyes in embarrassment for her. De Niro was surprisingly displeasing in his role as well. The part of the Senator just did not fit him and I couldn’t stop seeing him as De Niro and believe his character.
The special effects were at times cartoonish, and CGI was hit or miss. In the most intense kill scenes computer enhancement was obvious. When characters were simply hacking with a blade or shooting the blood splatter was more believable. Rodriguez might have done better to go with the old fashioned fake blood than to bounce back and forth between the two techniques.
As expected the use of sound and music were over-the-top and memorable. Every slice, punch, and bullet is amplified for the greatest effect. Rodriquez and his band provide key scoring but the most memorable use of music was the rendition of Ave Maria accompanying a shootout in a church.
Rodriguez put his signature stamp on another film; a movie his fans will love. His venture into Mexsploitation is a controversial one, but makes for great entertainment. Movie buffs will appreciate the sophisticated sound and nods to the genre. Others will simply enjoy the raw action and mounting humor. Ignoring a bit of miscasting and off kilter effects, Machete makes the cut.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Written by Robert Rodriguez and Álvaro Rodríguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Lindsey Lohan
Other Player Affinity Reviews
"Only Robert Rodriguez could make a film like this: a blood-spurting, gritty grindhouse exploitation extravaganza which gives character actor Danny Trejo the leading role he has deserved for so long. Machete
has its faults (not to mention no taste), but you don’t go to a film like this looking for pedigree filmmaking, you go to see people chopped up real good. The lovely supporting ladies (Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan) all give solid work, especially Lohan who skewers her persona more than Machete does baddies. Once a gimmick in the Grindhouse
double bill and now a feature length popcorn flick, Machete
reminds us why we need filmmakers like Rodriguez and more importantly, how viscera can still carry a wink a nod without the sadism." Rating: 7.5/10