Review: Machete

Posted by: Andrew Burns  //  September 10, 2010 @ 11:19am

Filed under: Movie Reviews 

You know summer is officially over when the B movies hit the big screen to bridge the gap between blockbusters and award season. It may be early for the October horror movie season, but here come buckets of blood anyways with Robert Rodriguez's Machete. However, instead of just good old fashion movie magic corn syrup blood, it looks like tomato paste. So when heads start to roll and limbs go flying, it looks like the kitchen floor at the Olive Garden. The blood is thick, the cast is stacked, the violence is excessive, and the movie is bad.

The film is the full length version of one of the mock-trailers from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 Grindhouse double feature. It stars long-time supporting actor, but first-time lead, Danny Trejo as the infamous title character Machete. Machete is a revenge-driven ex-Mexican Federale and now illegal US immigrant wreaking havoc in the southern Texas drug trade and its immigration conspiracy between the two countries. He is double crossed when hired to assassinate a corrupt US senator and becomes the fall guy. So naturally, Machete (using mostly a machete) is on the run, killing anybody in his way with a little help from two sexy ladies on the opposite side of the law, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez, and Cheech Marin as a shotgun-toting priest.

I'll admit, I was excited to see the movie, even more so after I saw who they added to the cast. It must have been meant as a joke in the opening credits when Cheech's name came before Don Johnson's, after all those years on Nash Bridges together. Unfortunately, the two former co-stars never get a scene together, but somehow Lindsay Lohan and Robert De Niro share one (like that will ever happen again). Even a noticeably overweight Steven Seagal pops up as a Mexican drug lord. Unfortunately, none of the quality supporting acting can help Trejo in this mess.

It's a B-movie, and I get that, but if everyone involved knew this going in, then why isn't the film so bad that it's funny? Someone screwed this one up.

For example, in the scene where Jeff Fahey pulls up in his town car to hire Trejo's character Machete, both new and old (being from the original mock-trailer) footage is used and there is a noticeable difference in the type and/or year of the car being used in the scene. Granted, this movie is again being classified as a 'B-movie', but after I found out that this movie was co-directed by Rodriguez and his long-time editor, Ethan Maniquis, I was insulted as an audience member by this botched copy and paste job.

I would be able to let that one gaff go, but it happens more than once though out the movie. For some ridiculous reason, instead of using the original mock-trailer as inspiration for the film, both Rodriguez and Maniquis use it as the film's structure. They try to put every shot that was in the fake trailer into the film, even when it doesn't quite fit the scene. The worst part is that half of those shots don't make it into the film until the big end action scene. With a running time of almost 2 hours, it just seemed like the directors decided to use all their old footage just for the sake of using all their old footage.

I know the first trailer was a joke when I went and saw the Grindhouse double feature for the first time, but just recycling that footage instead of expanding on it just looks like poor creativity from such an influential filmmaker like Rodriguez. I mean, the guy brought us films like Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, and yes even the Spy Kids franchise. So, with Rodriguez co-directing this film, I expected at least half of the movie to be better. With the disappointment of this transition from fake trailer to feature film, I'm still optimistic about the next Grindhouse trailer to get its own film in Hobo with a Shotgun. It was the only mock-trailer to get more laughs in the theatre than Machete.

Tags: Danny Trejo, Robert Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Robert De Niro, Machete

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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.

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