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Machete

(2010)

Directed by

Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis

 

Review by Todd Plucknett

Posted - 9/5/10

 

For people like me, this was one of the most anticipated movies of the year. After viewing the masterpiece of terror and sleazy violence Grindhouse back in the summer of 2007, I knew that there just had to be an adaptation of the mock trailer Machete. Not too long after, it was announced that it would happen, first being rumored as straight to-DVD, and now in 2010, we get a full-length, wide theatrical release with a huge cast of big stars and has-beens, which will undoubtedly make more money than Grindhouse ever did. I still do not understand how that flopped, though. Anyway, Robert Rodriguez and editing collaborator Ethan Maniquis team up as co-directors for this film. It pays appropriate homage to the grindhouse subgenre and features enough laughs to make this a superb piece of summer entertainment. It is everything I ever thought it could have been.

Machete (Danny Trejo) is a former Mexican federal agent who was betrayed by his boss (Steven Seagal), resulting in the death of his family. Three years later, he resurfaces and is hired to assassinate a senator who is vehemently cutting down on illegal immigration in Texas (Oscar-winner Robert De Niro). He is again set up and has to fight for his life. He goes on a rampage of revenge, enlisting the help of an ICE agent (Jessica Alba), a freedom fighter (Michelle Rodriguez), and his brother/priest (Cheech Marin). What ensues is a truckload of graphic, over-the-top violence, gut-busting laughs, and extreme entertainment for everyone watching it.

Danny Trejo has been around forever, and this is definitely his biggest role to date. He is amazing and perfect for that role, basically playing a similar part that he normally does. Steven Seagal is effective and ironic in his role. Robert De Niro, the most random cast member, is genius. Cheech Marin brings a fair amount of laughs. Michelle Rodriguez has become one of the more reliable female action stars. Jessica Alba gives one of her best performances. Lindsay Lohan brings about a fair amount of intrigue, and she actually does the most with her part. Jeff Fahey is a good villain. And introducing Don Johnson...classic.

What makes this movie good is its attention to detail. Unlike the previous Grindhouse films, this one is about something. It does not shy away from shocking images either, which gives it even more of a cult status. Then we get things like a hung-over Lindsay Lohan vomiting all over the sidewalk in her first appearance on screen. She was basically playing the part she is portrayed as in the media, which made each one of her lines a little eerie and sometimes hilarious. Steven Seagal is basically making fun of himself. The immigration war thing may be the subject of many of the laughs, but it is also fairly precise in how the government and people respond to it. It is strange that a movie like this could actually have some commentary on a pressing issue, but I would not expect anything less from one of the masters of cult filmmaking Robert Rodriguez.

In the end, there is a massive, predictable, and totally awesome fight sequence in which we see Lohan dressed as a nun with a shotgun, De Niro dressed like a dirt-poor Mexican, and Machete flying through the air with a minigun strapped to his chopper. It goes exactly where you would expect, but getting there is where all the brilliant entertainment comes from. There are no mock trailers here, sadly. The problem the film has, similar to the previous two, is that it is just a bit too long. This could have been cut by about 15-20 minutes and been part of Grindhouse. Instead, like the DVD versions of Planet Terror and Death Proof, the added footage makes it stand alone as its own movie, but it needed the change of pace and companionship with the other film to make it the perfect experience. Machete does its best to never slow down or overstay its welcome, but at some point, you just have to cut out a character or a scene or two to make it a more manageable length. That is not a huge complaint, though. I still had an absolute blast watching the movie and I recommend everyone see it, but that is just what it holding it back from being on the same level as its predecessors. This will likely be a much bigger hit, so that could easily be disproven by the masses. So, what’s next? Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving. I am so there.

Rating:


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