Machete

Mr. Robert Rodriguez dispenses his disposable grindhouse cinema upon us once again.  Don’t take that as a rip on the man.  As one of the few filmmakers allowed to take a film and design it from concept to execution, making it completely and utterly as he sees it, I commend him on all of his accomplishments.  He’s a fanboy movie-lover making fanboys all over the world jump for joy.  With Sin City and From Dusk Til Dawn, he’s proven himself a filmmaker in a distinct class of his own, even while turning his head to make Spy Kids movies for the youngsters.  Machete, the extended feature-length trailer to compliment his ‘fake trailer’ used in his and Tarantino’s Grindhouse experiment three years ago, turns out to be one of the goofiest action movies to approach self-parody without being a full-blown spoof on the genre.

Most comparable to the shoddy, bloody and dumb fun of Shoot Em Up, Rodriguez and his co-director Ethan Maniquis do not restrain from any of their most remote sensibilities in turning Machete into a cheese-fest, throwing everything that can spray blood and produce laughter at the screen.  It feels the only approach they saw to this Mexican revenge saga was to take it as a great big in-joke comedy.  For those expecting Death Wish or Man on Fire, look elsewhere.  Rodriguez and Maniquis bring Machete to the screen for actors like Robert DeNiro, Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Alba—giving them ample opportunity to ham it up as much as they can.  They seem to be having fun, so I suppose we should too.

Machete, starring typical villain Danny Trejo at age 66 as the title character, is on a mission for revenge.  As a former federal agent working for the U.S., he opens the film betrayed and left for dead following a rescue operation that results in a crime boss (Steven Seagal) taking the lives of his wife and daughter.  Failing to learn from his mistakes, he hides out along the border of Mexico and takes a job of assassinating Senator McLaughlin (DeNiro) in an effort to prevent him from constructing a wall that will separate the U.S. and Mexico.  Could it be that the assassination is a major setup for Machete, and that his employers turn him into a target?  Now with every lawman looking for his head, Machete must dodge death continuously and succeeds in doing so (simply because he’s that guy that won’t die).  With the help of an underground immigrant smuggler (Michelle Rodriguez), another federal agent (Jessica Alba), and his own brother—a priest with an arsenal of weaponry (Cheech Marin), Machete brings the fight to Senator McLaughlin (DeNiro) and his adviser (Fahey) that hired him.  Oh, and everyone that has ever wronged him must pay too.

Nonsensical cutthroat violence culminates most of Rodriguez’s campy exploitation film, a prime B-movie belonging in a second Grindhouse feature.   The filmmaker even recycles clips from his original 2007 trailer and incorporates them into the movie—that was actually a nice touch.  The enjoyment of the film rests solely on what an audience is looking for.  I think it will work strictly for the Rodriguez fanbase, and all others need not apply.  I enjoyed it for what it was.  Rarely would an audience be treated to a film that throws Steven Seagal, Robert DeNiro, and Lindsay Lohan together.  That is all Machete is: a barrage of talent from all levels thrown into a campy thriller where an antihero with the face of Trejo can get the girls, kill the bad guys, and stick a thorn into illegal immigration.  Machete knows it is pure trash and flaunts it.    By the end, the movie sinks (or rises) to Monty Python-level hilarity in a scene pitting the aging Seagal against the aging Trejo.  Mr. Seagal, in all his years, has never seen better days on screen, giving us the film’s most bizarre moment.  However, we are meant to indulge in it and enjoy the stupidity, as with the entire movie.  Taking any single frame seriously would be a slap in the face to the filmmakers.

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Comments

  1. Having just watched the El Mariachi trilogy, I’m kind of eager to see Machete too. It seems like a lot of people in the media were taking it way too seriously, where Rodriguez obviously plays it over-the-top for style and comedy.

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