Wednesday, March 30, 2011


or: Killing people!!!

One word to sum it up: Violent.

Who knew that the fake trailer shown before Grindhouse would make a full length film? Well well well, amazingly, it did make a movie lasting 100 minutes. Machete. You'd think, from Robert Rodriguez's previous attempt at malevolent violence with Planet Terror, he'd go absolutely full on here. And, well, he did. You know a film really doesn't take itself seriously when five people get their heads chopped off in the first five minutes. But the problem is, even though you can't take the film itself seriously, the film actually seems to take itself seriously.

I expected a lot of fun from this film, which certainly came through in it's non-stop violence, but it all seemed so unhappy. Maybe I'm too young to get all the jokes or something, but this film seemed almost too set on trying to be good instead of awesome. I wanted awesome, not a bloody critical delight. Somehow, though, this film won positive reviews from the critics, which leads me to wonder how it got there. It's a good, entertaining film, but it's just not as outrageously funny as I had hoped it would be. However, Robert Rodriguez did a perfectly good job of capturing an old, grotty style of action violence which was pretty fun to watch. Heads were severed, bodies were chopped in half and that end fight was pretty damn exciting. Did any of it make sense? I can't say I got the entire gist of it, mainly because of all the characters coming in and out of it, but what did you expect from a movie like this?

The story is really messy, even though it seems perfectly straight forward on paper: Machete (Danny Trejo) was betrayed and set-up by his boss, resulting in his wife and child being murdered by drug kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal). Now, in Texas, Machete resurfaces when hired to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), an extreme advocate against illegal immigration. Once again betrayed and set-up, Machete plots his revenge against the men who've wronged him with the help of resistance fighter Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), ICE Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba), and the shotgun-toting Padre (Cheech Marin). Yeah, it's pretty average material. Considering the Z-grade nature of the project, it is just right. Robert Rodriguez seems to have a lot of fun putting as much cheese as he can in this story. Which is cool, because cheesiness is damn entertaining to me.

The characters are all pretty interesting, even though the only really outrageous one is Machete. Danny Trejo, who has been a zillion straight to DVD movies which I've never even heard of, is a perfect fit for this character. He's a character of very little words, which makes him wildly interesting to watch as he runs around on his little mission. And of course, he and I have something in common: "Machete don't text". His support is okay, but again, with the quality of this feature, the acting doesn't really matter. Robert De Niro is back (again) and is still the best actor alive, even if he hasn't got the material to back that opinion up. Jessica Alba is perhaps a little more deserving of her Razzie win for this one than she was for The Killer Inside Me, and is pretty forgettable. Steven Seagal is in his first theatrically released movies in God knows how long. Michelle Rodriguez is Michelle Rodriguez, plain and simple. Lindsay Lohan was one of the people I really had a problem with, though. I don't know how her character had any relevance to the story at all. Then again, an appearance from actress Lindsay Lohan is always good.

It's clear, with the over-the-top violence, messy storyline and barrel load of characters that Robert Rodriguez had fun making this film. I, for one, loved the style in which this film was made. The real problem was the fact that the movie wasn't amazingly fun to all seemed a bit dreary.

THE VERDICT: It shouldn't be taken seriously, but Machete tries very hard to be serious, which is precisely the problem with this otherwise violent, messy, Z-grade feature which packs some real punches.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. Just based alone on that 'Machete don't text' quote, I need to see this.

    Also, did Robert Rodriguez always plan this film?

    I mean, Trejo played a guy called Machete in Spy Kids, which, when watching it the other day, made me have a WTF moment.

    (As you can see, I am wasting valuable writing/watching/reading time on watching Spy Kids which I have seen about a million times...)

  2. I could have done without Lindsay Lohan's small part, but other than that, 'Machete' was a really good time!

  3. Yea, this one disappointed me because the fun just wasn't consistent. There were some good bits, but it had too much plot, too many characters and not enough silliness.

    I'd recommend you check out the highly superior and totally amazing Black Dynamite, which succeeds in all the ways Machete fails.

  4. I really didn't like this one, just an overly self important, bloated mess.
    I believe Rodriguez just can't make any really good films apart from Planet Terror. I suppose Sin City was pretty good, but he co-directed it with Q.T. and Frank Miller. His other stuff like Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn are pretty bad.

    Great review Stevee, and I second that Black Dynamite recommendation, it's one of the funniest films of the decade.

  5. Cherokee - I don't know if Rodriguez had always planned this film. I should probably stalk his IMDb page and find out but I'm too tired :(
    Danny Trejo in Spy Kids? Whoa, that would scare a few kiddywinkies.

    Rachel - I second thy notion.

    James - I second thy notion, too. I've seen Black Dynamite...I should probably watch it again, because I was a bit 'meh' on it back then. I do remember it being a lot more fun than this.

    Jack - Planet Terror is cool...but I do feel guilty for liking it more than Death Proof as Q.T is always my preferred director.
    Funniest films of the decade, you say? Maybe I do need to watch it again...

  6. The best kinds of machete are those that are made of high carbon steel blades with spring temper.

    1. Thats not machetes...a throwing machete? :p The best or at least coolest machete is a kukri machete like this


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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