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Machete

A 2010 film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis.

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(3.5/5) Totally Fun and Amusing

  • Sep 5, 2010
Rating:
+4
In 2007 when Grindhouse was released there was a mock trailer for a film called Machete that played.  Apparently Robert Rodriguez liked the idea so much he decided to make it a full blown movie.  This is exactly what you're getting.  If you saw Grindhouse in 2007 (all four of you) then you should know what you're getting.  The movie is crazy violent.  It's over-the-top... it's wholly implausible and makes about as much sense as a mouse eating an elephant.  Machete is a pure stylistic gore fest and just about never begs you to really take it seriously.  There's a little problem with some of that, but we'll get to that later.

The movie begins with a flashback.  Machete is disobeying orders in an attempt to save a beautiful woman.  The movie waste no time splattering blood in your face as Machete walks in and kills everyone in his way.  He's blowing off heads, chopping off heads, stabbing people through the chest.  If the opening scene doesn't prepare you for the rest of the movie.  You've probably walked into the wrong theater.  What Machete doesn't realize is that his boss, a drug dealer named Torrez, is in charge of everything and for choosing to go in to be the hero he kills Machete's family. 

Three years later he's in Texas--illegally, mind you.  And it turns out that Illegal Immigration is one of the focal points of the film.  Give Machete points for at least trying to have a politically sound plot.  It takes a moment to talk about illegal immigration and that's apt to annoy some of the viewers.  Especially those who are fed up with politics.  At least Machete makes it work for the plot at hand... but that's why it's hard to take the immigration message seriously.  If you're going to see Machete for its plot, you've got problems.  And while some may frown at the style over substance approach, at the very least what Machete does it does well.  

The crux of the plot concerns the Aide of a US Senator who wants to boost the Senators poll numbers.  So he hires Machete to assassinate the Senator and offers him the money to do it.  To which Machete accepts (because he has no choice!).  Unknown to Machete, it's all part of a big conspiracy.  Soon Machete is on the run from the law, hired criminals of this particular Aide and--most important of all--getting involved in a situation where the system simply doesn't work. 

The action is what's fun.  It's over-the-top stuff.  You'll see characters losing limbs.  You'll see characters getting their head cut off.  There's splatter all over the place.  There's even a scene where Machete grabs a mans intestines and jumps out a window and repels one floor down so that he can escape a hospital.  Everything about the movie screams of cheesiness all over.  Not just the action... but also the horrible dialog, horrible acting etc.  None of this stuff is really that good.  That's not to say none of the actors have charm on screen.  Danny Trejo actually does as Machete, but only because it feels like he doesn't have to do anything.  All he has to be is emotionless throughout most of the film.  And sure, there are some moments that are enough to make you roll your eyes.  At the beginning of the movie where Machete rescues a woman who happens to be naked (and pulls a pocketed cell from... somewhere--I'll let YOU figure that out).  These kinds of moments are more annoying than not.  During some of these moments one has to wonder if Rodriguez is going for shock... or trying to satisfy a teenage boys sexual fantasies.  There aren't actually a lot of these moments, but regardless of what kind of movie Machete is, it's hard not to roll your eyes at some of these moments.

Some of the horrible nature plays off rather well.  Machete isn't, for example, a movie you see for the sake of the acting.  You just don't.  There are no characters that are really that well developed.  You like most of them because they can kick ass, not because the actors playing them are actually using their talents.  Someone out there is looking at me and saying that's rather wrong.  It's not.  It doesn't work against Machete either.  The main character, for example, is a deadly man.  The movie may not develop him, but Rodriguez is pretty good about giving us ideas about who the characters are long before they actually do much.  We know, for example, that Machete is deadly... not just by that opening scene... but because he has a hardened look about him.  He's got scars.  He looks like a guy who has literally been to hell and back.  It's these little tidbits that add to the charm of many of the characters.  Aside from that, it should be no surprise that the characters are rather one-dimensional OR that the bad guys are all cardboard cartoon characters.  This is all stuff that in most movies would be suicide to do, but Rodriguez seems to really know his audience, and he's hell bent on making sure they have fun.  In short, complaining about Machete's lack of characterization would be like complaining that Epic Movie is stupid.  Is not a criticism... it's a compliment.  It's what the movie is going for.

That doesn't mean it isn't bothersome.  You like Machete because he can kick ass.  Aside from that he just has a cool factor about him that helps.  The good news is that you can get around some of this because the movie has some nice comedy.  There are cheesy stupid lines scattered all throughout.  There are moments where you look at certain moments and can't help but laugh because of just how strangely absurd it is (like that whole using someone's intestines as a rope thing).  The movie is definitely a B-Movie.  Some moments are so cheesy and corny they add to the style and charm of the film as a whole.  Of course, you are likely to roll your eyes at some moments.  Such as when Machete is walking away from a character, stops and has to turn and look into the camera and utter some stupid, cheesy line.

The point is simple, the movie isn't asking for us to take it seriously.  So why should we?  Some of it comes off as demented as a result, but even more of it is easier to take in when you realize that it's absurd and over-the-top because Rodriguez wants it to be.  You ARE going to see Machete for a body count.  Not for deep characterization or anything like that.  And while it has something to say about immigration, this is something that's likely to make you grimace.  If only because it seems like the movie WANTS you to take that particular message seriously while asking you to suspend your disbelief about everything else.  Some movies can juggle that really well... but Machete isn't one of them.  Throughout the entire movie it's pretty at the forefront.  Because in the end it's essentially what the movie is about.  Unfortunately, as I said, you're likely to take the message about immigration about as seriously as the rest of the movie.  As a joke.  And that's sad because it seems like Machete doesn't WANT that part to be a joke.

If there was anything about Machete that might be a little off putting (aside from going all political on you) it might be that the final moments are kind of anti-climactic.  I'm not talking about the bloodbath, I'm talking about how all the bad guys get their comeuppance.  The main bad guy--Torrez--is a guy the movie showed us as being a very ruthless guy, but the final confrontation between him and Machete is just a letdown.  Not because the movie NEVER gives us a reason to actually worry about Machete, but because Torrez seems to do a complete about face of the guy we saw at the beginning.  Instead of being the ruthless man at the beginning we're treated to a fight scene that just feels like an extra.  Like a sort of, "Oh, we almost forgot about the bad guy... we better kill him off."  Perhaps I was expecting just a bit more.  Perhaps something just a tiny bit more amusing than what actually happened.

The movie is downright fun, however.  It's a bloody good time.  It's one that you might want to experience because it's just so over-the-top and silly.  There's hardly anything redeeming about the characters or situation.  It's just a silly action movie that happens to go for a style over substance approach.  This also means, of course, that Machete isn't for everyone.  We're talking more than just it's ultra violence.  We're talking it's non-sensical plot and all.  It's a movie that, if you're a Robert Rodriguez fan, you might want to go see.  The humor and the fun keep things about it interesting.  As long as you don't take it seriously and suspend your disbelief then you'll be fine.  Take things too seriously, or get too sucked into the immigration thing... and Machete is going to be a disappointment.

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November 08, 2010
Sounds a little too gory for me, but what a great review!!
 
September 14, 2010
Totally agree with you about the anti-climactic ways in which the bad guys get their comeuppance. It's like the film just looses steam at the exact moment it should be going right over the top. This film is one long "jump the shark" yet at the end, it stops jumping.
 
September 08, 2010
Dang, that sounds intense! And very cool how this movie was inspired and came to be. Thanks for sharing, Sean!
 
September 07, 2010
I plan on seeing this the first day I get off this week...
 
September 05, 2010
Superb breakdown! I was torn between a 3.5 and a solid 4 on this film, but considering just how I was entertained because of its cool factor, I went for a solid 4 star rating. This whetted my appetite to see Piranha 3D--more exploitive fun! Thanks, Sean!
 
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More Machete reviews
review by . September 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
MACHETE Kills and Kills Again...But Machete Doesn't
Those who remember the “Grindhouse Double-feature” in 2007 directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez may remember the fake trailer called “Machete”. Well, what began as a mere gimmick has been adapted to a full-length motion picture and may be the film that makes 66 year-old Danny Trejo into a new star. Rodriguez’s latest film isn’t pretentious, it is a tribute to the ‘grind house films’ in the 70’s with loads of action, violence and …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     Born of a fake trailer and made by the original craftsman, Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" has finally, and recently, released. Before you start reading my two cents on this thing, let me tell you this: read all kinds of reviews for this movie. Some will like it; some will love it; and some will just plain despise it. This is a tasteless, violent, and potentially offensive film that may come off as racist and stereotypical to some, but then again, both things …
review by . September 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Machete Review
   So I managed to watch this for free at an advanced screening (and get lucky seats at the back of the theater. After a few promo giveaways and the film starts... You will probably not blink a single minute of the film...      Here's a backstory to Machete. If you watched Grindhouse and saw the fake trailer, you probably didn't realize that it was gonna be a real movie. Well it is and it follows that similarity from the trailer.      Basically, …
review by . September 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
¡NINGUNA DELICADEZA EN ABSOLUTO!!!!
As this movie starts, you know subtlety is not it's strong point if a point at all.  Danny Trejo and some sidekick are cops who are being warned not to go after a kidnapped girl in a drug lord's house.  Trejo ignores this command by crushing the radio with his hand.  Going full speed in some decepit looking sedan, and heres where this movie shows off that deficency in subtlety.  Storming the house by ramming the car through the front, three guards with automatic rifles …
review by . September 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   There was a film last year that I appreciated quite a bit that was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which didn’t quite make fun of the action genre in the same way Robert Rodriquez’s Machete does, but in the same way both films incorporate a tone in the violence, a sheer thrill and recklessness of what blade is going where, who’s firing what gun, and what 66 year old former prisoner is riding an explosion …
review by . September 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There's no question that Robert Rodriguez's MACHETE is a lot of "guilty pleasure" fun. There's a visceral pleasure to be had from a guy as outstandingly scary looking as Danny Trejo wielding a machete and severing heads and limbs, disemboweling bad guys and general leaving a trail of carnage in his wake.     All of these things were promised in the fake trailer for MACHETE which was presented prior to the start of GRINDHOUSE, the wonderfully crazy experience crafted by Rodriguez …
review by . October 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I KNOW I AM LATE WITH THIS BUT.......
      MACHETE      As any one who knows me can tell you I am a huge Quentin Tarantino fan and a huge Robert Rodriguez fan, so naturally I love their work. This film being another Grindhouse type film especially since it was based on a trailer for that film is really fun. Any one who does not like violence, naked women, and violence should stay away. Also add in that I am a huge Steven Seagal fan and that this film was filmed here in Austin Texas, you know …
review by . September 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Having seen Grindhouse, I remember seeing a funny trailer for a movie called Machete.  I am not sure how the actual movie came about: whether this was an actual trailer or Rodriguez decided to make it due to positive comments on the trailer.  Anyway, I had been trying to find time to see this and I just saw it today in an empty theater.  I could not understand why since this film is one of the best action films I have seen in a long time!      …
Quick Tip by . February 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
No one makes a sleazy, fun, action-packed grindhouse homage quite like Robert Rodriguez and this film is perhaps his best film since "Desperado". Certainly not for the queasy or for people concerned with political correctness, "Machete" delivers on explosive action, edgy humor, some cheap thrills, and lots of gore. This is the kind of film that if taken seriously could be considered not only as offensive due to its exploitative depictions of violence and sex, but it comes off …
Quick Tip by . January 09, 2011
I give MACHETE a single star, and that's mostly b/c I can enjoy a quality B flick as much as the next cinophile. Mostly, I thought the film needed a few more weeks at the writer's desk before they put it before the cameras; clearly, it was a rushed production hoping to capitalize on the political arguments regarding legal and illegal immigration, and there's nothing wrong with that. After the first 20 minutes (or so), the film finally settles into its over-the-top farcical tone, and, from that point …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

Machete is a 2010 action horror film, directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis. The film stars Danny Trejo in his first lead role as the title character. The film also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Robert DeNiro, Jeff Fahey, and Cheryl Chin. The film is an expansion of a fake trailer Rodriguez directed for the 2007 film Grindhouse and centers around the character of Machete Cortez, who previously appeared as the uncle of the protagonists in the Spy Kids films. Filmed in autumn 2009, the film was released in the United States on September 3, 2010 by 20th Century Fox.
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Details

Genre: Action, Crime
Release Date: September 3, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Studio: 20th Century Fox, Overnight Productions, Hyde Park Entertainment, Troublemaker Studios
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