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Machete

A 2010 film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis.

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Danny Trejo is a great presence...but the film is unsatisfying

  • Sep 4, 2010
Rating:
-1
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 and his buddy, Quentin Tarantino. Both men are drawn to the cheap thrill, to the idea of going just a little too far and over-the-top. But Tarantino (PULP FICTION, KILL BILL, etc.) is extremely talented, a full tool box of skills at his disposal. Rodriguez, on the other hand, mostly wields a hammer. It's a stylish hammer, to be sure (see DESPERADO)...but his films don't feel like cheap and tawdry thrills delivered by a mad genius...they feel like exploitation flicks. Often very fun...but also empty.

Trejo plays the titular Machete (a Mexican federale in hiding in the US after his family is slaughtered by a horrible drug kingpin, played by Steven Seagal) with about two expressions. He's a wonder to look at and has a crazy charisma. He's not much of an actor, but he's riveting nonetheless. His scarred and pock-marked face is real, and he carries himself like a guy who earned those scars. Thank goodness he IS so much fun to watch, because if his role were a failure, there would be little else to enjoy. Machete is drawn back into the spotlight when he's framed by Jeff Fahey in an assassination attempt upon Robert DeNiro, who plays a Texas state senator who campaigns purely on the idea of driving out illegal immigrants and then putting up an electrified fence. You will not be surprised to know that Fahey, DeNiro and Don Johnson as a border vigilante, are all actually teaming up with Seagal to control the flow of illegals, and to profit from their misery.

Machete is joined in his quest for vengeance by an immigration officer (Jessica Alba, once again proving unable to create a remotely believable portrayal of a human being), his brother who is also a priest (Cheech Marin, earning solid but obvious laughs) and a tough underground immigration supporter (Michele Rodriguez...looking mightily convincing wielding weapons). Mayhem ensues, all of it bloody and noisy. The film is gleefully violent, and usually only takes a break from the violence for some gratuitous nudity. Lindsey Lohan shows up as Fahey's drugged-out daughter, and we get some body double nudity from her, in case you're interested.

The movie is pretty much what you'd expect. The audience of mostly younger men and their seemingly reluctant dates (those who had dates) whooped and hollered and had a great time. For myself, I kept wishing for wit that was a bit funnier, for visual flair that was more dazzling. Rodriguez stages plenty of violence, but much of it is surprisingly clumsy and unclever. In one scene, he takes a long close-up of a corkscrew. Why? So that you remember it when two scenes later, it is plunging into the eye socket of a bad guy. The foreshadowing of weapons of destruction is this obvious throughout. And the best action sequences occur in the prologue and in a relatively early scene in a hospital, where Machete uses a truly unusual method of escape. As the film wears on, the scenes get bigger but they become less satisfying.

And imagine, if you will, 66 year old Trejo taking on a bloated and barely ambulatory Seagal in a climactic scene. Yep, it was about as climactic as packing a lunch in the morning. Tarantino is a master of finding great old stars and reinvigorating them in his masterpieces of mayhem (David Carradine in KILL BILL, Robert Forster in JACKIE BROWN). Rodriguez seemingly wants to do the same with Seagal, but Steven Seagal was never a good actor even in his heyday. DeNiro has minor amounts of fun in his role...but even the thrill of seeing him in such junk wears thin. Fahey is generic. Don Johnson has a bit of fun for awhile...but as with DeNiro, the fun wears off. Only Michelle Rodriguez makes a real impression...she looks like a girl who would take no nonsense from anyone, and would handle herself well in a gunfight. She is suitable support for the formidable Trejo.

I enjoyed myself for most of the film, but by the end, I had stopped laughing and smiling. In many ways, that fake trailer from GRINDHOUSE packed all the entertainment of MACHETE into a 3 minute package. I remembered it so fondly, and that helped me enjoy this film...but in the end, MACHETE just couldn't cut it for a feature lengthy film.

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November 18, 2010
What a fun review!!
 
September 14, 2010
Very nice review! Seems like we have a little bit of a differing viewpoint on this film, but hey, that is all this community is all about. Thanks for sharing!
 
September 14, 2010
My daughter was one of those roaring with laughter at this flick. I loved it too and I think it delivered just what it promised--although I don't believe I actually laughed out loud once, unless it was at Marin's surveillance monitors arranged in the form of a cross.
 
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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 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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.  …
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 . 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 …
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Ranked #146
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … 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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