If you expect nothing more than a bloody good time, you’ll walk out of Machete fairly pleased. And by bloody good time, I do mean a ‘bloody’ good time. Filled with enough blood and gore to make even Tarantino feel squeamish, Machete comes to us from the twisted, yet brilliant mind of Robert Rodriguez, the man responsible for films like Planet Terror and Sin City.
Providing the narrative for this violent tale of vengeance is a classic tale of revenge. Danny Trejo plays our hero Machete. He’s a Mexican ex-Federale who had to witness the death of his wife at the hands of Mexican drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal).
After living off the grid as a workman for a few years, he finds himself becoming the fall guy for a Texas businessman named Booth (Jeff Fahey). Machete was hired by Booth to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro). Not everything goes according to plan though and Machete is betrayed and framed for the assassination.
Now out for revenge, Machete will do whatever it takes to make sure that those responsible for his current situation get what they deserve. He’s determined, driven and won’t stop until he gets his revenge.
Machete, or the film that should have been called There Will Be Blood, is over the top in every way, shape and form. In fact, over the top is an understatement to describe the absolutely ridiculous shenanigans witnessed in Machete. The film is absolutely fucking nuts.
Excuse my language but in what other way can I describe one man ripping out another man’s intestines and using it as a rope to rappel down a building? Or what about a scene that depicts a threesome between a daughter, mother and Machete? Everything is taken way overboard, the violence, the action, the humour etc. What else could you really expect though?
Sheer madness is what Rodriguez is going for. From the opening prologue that borders on overkill, where almost everyone meets their end with decapitation via a machete, to the end of the film which depicts an outrageous battle royale style war, the film is preposterous no doubt, but at times it’s also extremely fun.
The violence erupts in a cornucopia of absolutely outrageous ways to kill people. Impalement, decapitation, severed limbs, crucifixion and hundreds of other inventive murders all grace the big screen. To be honest, anything goes here. Whatever Rodriguez could conjure up in his mind, it has been committed to celluloid. The violence here is relentless and Machete wields his weapon so well that even Mr.Voorhees may be jealous.
Humour takes its form in sight gags, double entendres, awkward situations and Trejo himself declaring what is sure to be the film’s most memorable line “Machete don’t text.”
To be honest though a lot of the humour stems from just how crazy the film is. A lot of the violence and gore will simply have you laughing, it’s that over the top. A couple scenes are just so ridiculous that you’ll laugh out of the sheer shock that you’re actually watching this.
A lot of Machete does work. Armed with the knowledge that it’s a throwback to the B grade, 70’s exploitation films, you’ll probably appreciate and enjoy most of it. To get even more of a ‘exploitation film’ feel, Rodriguez includes deliberately choppy editing, scratched shots, funk music during sex scenes etc. It is very much a throwback and because of this, some of the film’s silliness and flaws can be excused.
Where the problems start to come from are the scenes where we don’t see Machete. Rodriguez focuses a lot on meaningless and poorly acted supporting characters. When Machete isn’t on screen (and there are a good number of scenes where he isn’t), it simply isn’t as fun. In fact, it’s almost boring. The highlights here are the carnage and death that Machete dishes out, it’s as simple as that. Any scene that doesn’t revolve around that just doesn’t work as well.
The film’s politics regarding the illegal immigrant situation in the US is focused on a bit too much as well. Machete takes a one sided approach to the issue but this is to be expected due to its ‘exploitation film’ nature. To be honest though, most people coming to the film don’t care enough about the issue to really warrant numerous characters giving supposedly ‘deep’ speeches about it. It becomes redundant after a while. In the end the audience simply wants more chopping and less talking.
The acting isn’t exactly award worthy either, in fact it’s far from it. No one really does that great of a job, except maybe Trejo. Everyone ties into the nature of the film though and goes way over the top with their roles.
Trejo is imposing as the machete wielding hero. He was certainly born to play the role, stoic and a true badass, he’s really the only person for the job. The only thing is his laconic style of acting gets to be a bit too much at times. His role falls into the category where ‘actions speak louder than words’ but at times he just comes off as awkward, usually during the romance scenes. He certainly wasn’t born to play a romantic. Nevertheless, he crafts a pretty great hero and one that will surely be appreciated by audiences.
Fans of LOST will instantly recognize everyone’s favorite pilot Frank Lapidus aka actor Jeff Fahey. Fahey plays the Texas businessman who screws over Machete. Sleazy and scummy, Fahey actually does a decent job with the role and being a LOST fan, I enjoyed his performance.
Supporting roles from Cheech Marin, Steven Seagal and Don Johnson are more novelties than anything else and they just add to the overall tone and feel of the film. The whole ‘introducing Don Johnson’ gag is funny at first but after a while you start to realize why he hasn’t been doing much acting lately.
Marin is actually quite funny and fans of the Cheech and Chong films will surely get a kick out of his role. Of course there’s the expected marijuana scenes with his character and he provides some of the film’s funnier moments. As for Seagal, well what can you really say about the guy that hasn’t been said before? Audiences will cheer when he appears on screen, he’s wildly out of place as the Mexican drug lord and by the end you’re start to see why his last 15 or so films have been direct to DVD.
Random can’t even begin to describe the casting choice of Robert De Niro. His character is annoying and his performance isn’t much better. The actor has certainly seen better days. With a Texas accent that comes and goes, he does what he can with the one dimensional role but ultimately his performance doesn’t amount to much.
Lohan, in a role that’s no stretch for her, plays a rich kid who’s in trouble with alcohol and drugs, sound familiar? Perhaps when she cleans up her life she could seek out an acting coach because she simply has no clue how to act.
Jessica Alba plays an immigration officer who helps Machete and Michelle Rodriguez plays the leader of an underground network of immigrants. Neither are very good in their roles. Alba isn’t very convincing and Rodriguez plays a role she’s all too familiar with. She does her usual tough chick gig but it’s nothing special.
The female roles are pretty thin in terms of character development. None of them are really well acted or well fleshed out but I think the actresses are there more for their appearance. Between Lohan’s nude scene, Alba’s semi nude scene, and Rodriguez’s outfit at the end and the way Rodriguez(Robert) captures her on film, there’s more than enough eye candy for the guys.
Expect nothing more than a 1970’s style B movie, because that’s exactly what you’ll get. The over the top blood and gore, gratuitous nudity, odd humour etc, it’s all here. This is a movie that has Robert De Niro dressing up as a Mexican, Lindsay Lohan dressing up as a nun, Steven Seagal (a Jewish Irish American) playing a Mexican drug lord who excels in all aspects of Samurai sword fighting and Cheech Marin playing a priest. Only in a Robert Rodriguez film could all this happen.
In the end though it’s all in good fun. That’s what it really comes down to, Machete is a fun film. It slows down in parts and becomes redundant at times but it excels in the action and violence. The film’s witty sarcasm and good sense of humor helps to keep things moving and overall it turns out to be somewhat enjoyable. Just go in knowing what to expect and you’ll find yourself satisfied at the end.
Though it starts off well, Machete becomes boring and slow towards the end as Trejo's shtick starts to feel a bit stale. Still, you'll definitely find some entertainment here.