MOVIE REVIEW: Machete
This movie cuts like a knife, and bleeds uncontrollably
Machete: Rates a C-.
The opening credits had a cute joke saying “Introducing Don Johnson.” And during the movie, I forget he was in it, as a Minutemen type of character that shoots any Mexican in his path.
There’s a lot I want to forget about this movie.
What started as a fake movie trailer in Grindhouse (a good film that spoofs 1970s B-movies), doesn’t work.
As a faux film trailer, we can laugh the way everyone did, when Hollywood made a movie called Snakes on a Plane.
When you make a 105 minute movie, which according to my math, is 100 minutes longer than the original joke that worked so well…that’s a tall order for anyone; but especially director Robert Rodriquez.
I thought of an analogy that helps explain why this movie doesn’t really work.
Remember when you heard the chorus from a Weird Al Yankovic song and you’d laugh that he’s singing “Eat It” instead of “Beat it?” When you hear the entire song, you think some of the lyrics are clever, but before the half-way point, you stopped caring. You get the joke, and it’s just going on and on.
I remember in the early 1990s hearing a parody song called “Stairway to 7-11.” It was hysterical, and only a minute long. Now, had it been eight minutes, the length of the Led Zeppelin original, I doubt people would’ve found it funny.
Listen, I’ve had a man crush on Danny Trejo for as long as I could remember. The dude just chews up the screen (much like how something has chewed up the skin on his face).
I remember thinking when I saw Desperado (another Rodriquez picture) – it would be interesting to see a whole movie about this mysterious knife thrower. And I’m sure an interesting movie could’ve been made. This wasn’t it.
I know, I know…it’s supposed to be a fake, Mex-ploitation movie. So what. If you’re doing that, I want a lot more action scenes (and better ones), more nudity (I can’t believe I actually typed that), and more catch phrases.
I loved when they described Trejo as “CIA, ICE, FBI -- all rolled into one mean burrito.” More of that, please.
I can’t say Piranha 3D was better than this movie, but they surely did a better job making a parody film of this genre. And that’s odd, considering we get to watch Robert De Niro as a racist senator.
Cheech Marin (in a few funny and interesting scenes), as the Priest and brother to Machete.
Michelle Rodriquez runs a taco stand. She’s a revolutionary named “She” (think Che).
Jessica Alba looks gorgeous, and we all broke our necks turning like Linda Blair when they showed her nude in the shower, at an upside down angle.
So what went wrong?
Sloppy writing, that’s what.
Early on, we see Machete driving his car through the house of kidnappers. His sidekick is scared, and apologizes for something. Trejo says “You can apologize to the machete, it’s boss.”
I also thought about how three human beings I despise (Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriquez) are in this.
Lohan goes topless, and does a 3-way with a character playing her mom (talk about type casting).
I thought Jeff Fahey was amazing in his role as a double-crossing aide to De Niro. His voice and look is perfect for the role.
There are things I liked and disliked about this movie. Here are a few:
Liked: Machete using a weed wacker as a weapon.
Disliked: The Mexicans all showing up for a fight with garden tools (the fighting scene in Anchorman is so much more fun).
Liked: Trejo as Machete; a hundred times more intimidating than Javier Bardem and his goofy haircut in No Country for Old Men.
Disliked: Scenes of him sharpening and improving his knives.
Liked: Trejo saying “Machete don’t text.”
Disliked: The convoy of lowriders showing up for the big showdown.
Liked: Trejo using intestines as a rope to repel out a window.
Disliked: Seagal sitting by a pool talking tough.
Liked: Did I mention the weed wacker? Well, he uses it again. It’s equally as fun.
Disliked: Uneven action sequences.
Liked: Cheech whipping out Cuban cigars, and then Mexican joints (that were almost the same size as the cigars).
Disliked: The gunfights.
This is basically a parody of bad movies and it soon just becomes one itself.
Less is more, and the trailer should’ve been the last we heard of Machete (didn’t Rodriquez also name Trejo’s character Machete in Spy Kids?)
A friend of mine was upset that the white guys were the evil, bad racists. I remember he was also bothered that the humans were evil in Avatar.
I have no problems with either of those scenarios, as these are fictional stories. And I’m guessing Mexicans would have more to complain about this movie than whites.
As Machete was sharpening his knives, I couldn’t help think – it’s the movie that’s rather dull. And that’s a shame, because they had a lot to work with.
I’m starting to think these are the only types of movies Rodriquez is capable of anymore (What happened to films like El Mariachi?)
I’m giving this a C-.
(It was going to get a D+, but Trejo stayed after class and pleaded his case. And how can you not be charmed by that face?)