Machete Directed by: Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 3, 2010
PLOT: An ex-Federale (Trejo) is set up and on the run. Then he goes after all his enemies with his trusty machete at his side.
WHO'S IT FOR? This is ultra-violent. I can't express that enough. It's a nod to exploitative flicks and really is all over the place with its tone.
EXPECTATIONS: The Expendables didn't do it for me. I was desperately trying not to put extra pressure on Machete just because of that. I was one of the many who saw Grindhouse and the fake trailer of Machete and thought, "Yeah, I'd see that."
Danny Trejo as Machete: A face only a mother could love, and therefore many of us have decided we LOVE it to. Trejo has been a side character in tons of films, but never put front and center. I don't think his face is the only thing that has kept him from being a leading man. He lumbers a little bit on screen. He's never going to get into the "Hollywood Running Hall of Fame" with Tom Cruise and Matt Damon as co-captains. Plus, while his voice is awesome, he doesn't have the pop to deliver killer lines. Then again, "Machete doesn't text," is a perfect example of some fairly lame dialogue. With all of that said, he can cut people apart with the best of them. It's like a Bond villain finally got a staring role. Only some will be happy with it. Score: 5
Jessica Alba as Sartana: Please stop. I'm just sick of it. I end up writing the same thing every time Alba is in a movie. I just don't see "actress" coming from here. I don't care if she's a pretty face, it's nothing but laughable that she plays a lady of the law. Her "crowning achievement" is a lame speech on the hood of a car to rally the troops. Score: 2
Michelle Rodriguez as Luz: When Rodriguez and Alba are on screen together I wish I would have been armed with a machete. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have killed anybody. It just would have been something to do to pass the wasted time. Rodriguez looks tough, but when she acts tough, I just want to snicker. It's just trying too hard. Score: 4
Cheech Marin as Padre: Marin is a welcome addition halfway through the film, because Machete was feeling really stale in the previous 15 minutes before his arrival. He's the funniest part as the brother of Machete and also now a man of the church who is willing to wield double shotguns. The amusement of Marin all but disappears when director Rodriguez attempts something serious and very disturbing in the torture of Padre. Not cool. Score: 7
Robert De Niro as Senator McLaughlin: Is this the first time De Niro has put on the Southern accent for a film? It was amusing, and even better is when he drops his accent. I had a feeling this was going to be the classic moment of "And Robert De Niro" at the end of the opening credits. I was correct. So there isn't a ton of him here. Plus, his last moments on the screen should have been cut. It was totally a waste. In other words, just like most of this movie, there were ups and downs with the character of Senator McLaughlin. Score: 6
Steven Seagal as Torrez: I wanted more Seagal and I'm not even a die-hard fan of his past work. It was comical, the right tone for this film and his final scene is hilarious. It's too bad he spent most of the movie on a computer video chat. Score: 8
Jeff Fahey as Booth and Don Johnson as Lt. Stillman: Both prove they can be villains in films for as long as they want. I assumed Fahey had it in him, I was surprised Johnson did. Score: 6
Lindsay Lohan as April: I don't know what Lohan is aware of, and I don't care. Clearly this is a parody of what we see/think she is in real life, and it's funny. I'm not sure exactly how much skin we are seeing of Lohan because there are times when it's clearly a stunt double. This is another piece in this odd puzzle that fits perfectly. Score: 7
TALKING: There is a heaping pile of obvious satire going on with the side subject of this movie, which is the U.S./Mexican border. There are some good parody ads with the Senator, but with all that funny it seems like such an odd waste of time with many back and forth moments of dialogue with Machete and Sartana. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Do you like large intestines? Whatever your opinion is now, it will change after you see Machete. It's very creative and perfectly insane, and I won't spoil it for you here. It does seem Rodriguez is a fan of that section of the body considering he did something just as disgusting (but not as funny) in Planet Terror. The opening is shot in grindhouse style, but then the rest of the movie is cleaner. The editing cuts some (but not much) of the violence down and really just makes it sloppy. I truly believe that's the affect Machete is going for, but it doesn't pop on screen. Score: 5
SOUNDS: Yes, there are plenty of splattering sounds. Every style of Mexican music is thrown around as well. The most entertaining moments of sound come in the form of bow, chicka, wow wow. There is no set up for when ladies are going to fall for Machete, except the amusement of cuing up porn music. It never got old. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: The opening sequence is bloody, funny and insane. Plus it taps into the grindhouse feature much better than the rest of the film. It's always rough when the first part is the best. It makes for a long ride.
ENDING: Rodriguez once again shows the right tone with the very end. There's a tease for sequels Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again. Unfortunately they don't show any footage for those fake (potentially real) sequels.
QUESTIONS: Getting bad actors, or not caring about the effort some are putting on screen ... that makes it an accurate nod to exploitation films or B-movies, but does that mean it's fun to watch?
REWATCHABILITY: There are easily parts that I would watch again, but I don't need to sit through the whole bloody thing again.
It's a spectacle. It also never finds a clear tone. Yes, I know it's an exploitation film, but is it an homage, a replica, a spoof, a new step, or dear god ... something to be taken seriously in parts? I loved the over-the-top fun of Planet Terror, Rodriguez's half of Grind house. Most exploitation/grindhouse/B-movies have moments, and that's exactly what we're left with here. I never felt interested in the story, just the style and humor. The worst part, I ended up getting bored with the death. It didn't carry the slick style as Kill Bill and it didn't carry the same amusement as Planet Terror.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10