Saturday, April 30, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Machete' (2010)

It's been awhile since I posted a review, but things have been hectic with school and I've been sick.... possibly more on that in another post. That being said, I continue my 'Grindhouse' film festival with the Robert Rodriguez opus 'Machete'. I think this is the first starring vehicle for Danny Trejo and after watching 'Machete', I can see why he doesn't generally carry a film all by himself. It's not that he's bad in it or un-charasmatic, it's just that he's more of a character actor than a leading man. (sorry Danny.... don't hurt me.) [Side note: If you want to see one of my favorite roles for Danny Trejo, check out his portrayal of the young Michael Myers caretaker in Rob Zombie's 'Halloween'. He is spot on perfect in that role.] He does, however, sell the character of a former federale that has been forced into a situation he doesn't want to be in. He may not be the tallest guy in the world, but what he lacks in size.... he makes up for in attitude. He is such a menacing presance when he wants to be. He is a guy you wouldn't want to meet in a dark ally, especially if he's packing some sort of a weapon. What was a bit of a shame was that the rest of the cast just wasn't as strong as Danny was. Especially Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal and Lindsay Lohan, they were just so dull and uninspired. I don't understand their appeal and no matter how much I tried, they just kept drawing focus away from the movie and not in a good way. On the flip side of that, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey and Cheech Marin stole the show. I only wish that Cheech couldn've done more double shotgun wielding action throughout the flick, he was pretty badass.

The plot of this shakes out pretty much like the 'faux' trailer from the original 'Grindhouse' film. Robert Rodriguez actually used the original footage to tie it all togther and then, of course, added a whole lot of new stuff. I'd say that he got about 90% of the original actors from the trailer to make the final film. Anyway, Danny plays a man nicknamed 'Machete'. He's a former federale from Mexico who's life was destroyed by a very overweight and akward Steven Seagal. Fast-forward a few years and we find that America is at war with the illegals pouring over the border from Mexico. We establish several characters that will tie in directly with Machete's primary plot. We have Jessica Alba's Mexican girl gone illegal alien hunter. Michelle Rodriguez's taco stand vendor/illegal alien warrior. Don Johnson's over the top border patrol agent gone bad. And of course, Danny's relative and priest Cheech Marin. Danny is hired by Jeff Fahey to kill Robert DeNiro's politician character, but is double crossed. He becomes a man hunted, but he vows to get back at those who wronged him. The rest of the film is an all out, over the top action flick for those who love their films big and silly.

The thing that I love and hate about Robert Rodriguez movies are the fact that he pumps them out so quickly and with such reckless abandon. He does it in such a way that he doesn't have time to second guess if his ideas are original and fun or over the top and stupid. That is left up to the viewer to decide in the end. I know that he's capable of amazing things, we've all seen the 'El Mariaci' trilogy or 'Sin City' right? He has skills. He just gets so wrapped up in trying to make every single idea that he has into a movie that he loses sight of quality vs. quantity. I think he needs to learn that sometimes less is more. Take his movie 'Sharkboy and Lava Girl in 3D', this was a movie that was literally written because of a dream that his kid had. He made an entire movie based on the imagination of a child, no filter. I think this is charming and sweet and could have been something pretty keen, but instead.... he just spit it out at top speed and ended up with a big turd of a movie. A really big turd.

All in all, I think 'Machete' suffered a bit of Rodriguez-itis. It was put out as an after thought to a one off faux trailer that people loved and he felt obligated to make the full feature. With a bit more time, I think he could have tweaked this to be legendary. I still feel it deserves 4 out of 5 stars for it's ridiculous campiness and bloody action. I think he also deserves a lot of credit for calling in a bunch of favors to get a pretty big cast of stars. I also want to thank him for giving a character actor the chance to shine in a leading role and he couldn't have picked a nicer guy to give that chance. Who doesn't love Danny Trejo? So if you're bored and want to check out on real life for an hour and a half, this is THE film to watch. If you're looking for a film with minimal death's caused by lowrider's and fat Steven Seagal portrayal's of Mexican bad guys, than you should probably stay away from 'Machete'. Now let's see if Robert sticks with his promise at the end of this to make 'Machete Kills' and 'Machete Kills Again'. If I know him like I think I know him, he's already dreaming up the storylines and will have them both out before the end of 2013.

If you like this, check out: 'Planet Terror', 'Death Proof' and 'Hobo With A Shotgun'


  1. I actually liked Machete for the most part. Only things I really didn't like were Jessica Alba & Lindsay Lohan. Granted Alba is in a lot of Rodriguez flicks these days... but really was there any reason at all to see Lohan naked? Ugh.

    You're right about Trejo not being that tall, though. Met him once and was surprised at how short he really is. Goes to show what a camera can do to hide such a thing.

    I think what's most amazing about Robert Rodriguez is the fact he can make these films on a relatively small budget. He does a good deal of the post production himself, and I think most of the actors do the flick for pocket money and the sheer fun of it.

    I think there is a 2nd movie in the works. Not sure about a 3rd but we'll certainly see.