Film Reviews


By • Sep 5th, 2010 •

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Silly bloodbath without a soul. De Niro plays Senator Focker and Lohan is ridiculous. She needs an acting coach or a strong director.

Director/co-writer Robert Rodriguez has put a big dent in his fan-based idolization with this messy, gore-filled comedy.

However, MACHETE does bring my good friend Steven Seagal back to a mainstream studio-released film. (Seagal has not stopped making movies. Not only has he found his wellspring niche, he has a dedicated following.) Rodriguez has attempted a “Quentin Tarantino Resurrection” by returning Don Johnson to acting. His cast may have done him a favor, but he does not return their largesse.

Rodriguez’s stand-in Danny Trejo stars as former federal agent Machete, a man on a solo mission of revenge after drug czar Torrez (Steven Seagal) kills his family. Three years go by without an explanation as to how chained-up Machete escaped certain death by Torrez’s goons.

MACHETE is a hackneyed anthem to the cruel suffering of illegal Mexicans in Texas. Jessica Alba, in a lousy wig, plays immigration agent Sartana, who is documenting the comings and goings of Mexican day laborers. On her hit list is taco stand owner Luz (Michelle Rodriguez).

The story, such as it is, hobbles along as Torrez’s man-on-the-ground Booth (Jeff Fahey) hires Machete not to do landscaping but to assassinate U.S. Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), who is running a campaign to get rid of Mexicans sneaking into Texas by erecting an electrified border fence.

Machete takes the $150,000 payday but, even though he is homeless, gives the money to Luz who is rumored to be the mythical terrorist She, leader of The Network. The Network is made up of every illegal and legal Mexican in Texas. Booth sets up Machete and has his own guy merely wound McLoughlin. Now McLoughlin has taken a bullet for his political stand. His numbers rise.

De Niro, like Marlon Brando, keeps crucifying his hollowed career by doing crap like this. Brando took the bigger path by offending everyone by courageously getting obese – and flaunting it. With Hollywood’s obsession with beauty and youth, that’s a big “f**k you”. Clearly, De Niro knows that he is playing a buffoon character in homage to Danny De Vito. I know it is considered an insult to actually give direction to a movie star of De Niro’s stature, but these A List actors cannot direct themselves!

De Niro might be god awful, but Lindsay Lohan stops the movie dead with her hilarious “acting”. Yes, she is topless, but why in the world did her agent allow her to do a part where her character is frolicking around naked with her mother? And the nun’s outfit? What Halloween store did costumer Nina Proctor go to for that getup?

Rodriguez believes in nepotism. His cousin co-wrote the screenplay and his sister, Rebecca Rodriguez, was MACHETE’S editor! A mistake. Another Rodriguez is listed as a production office intern. Not to be outdone, Rodriguez’s former wife, producer Elizabeth Avellan, also employed a family member. Well, Rodriguez has a big family and it’s better to hire them than to give them handouts.

Now on to Danny Trejo. Rodriguez has made Trejo, at 66 years old, a major star. Trejo is in all of Rodriguez’s films. Rodriguez is that powerful. Rodriguez has also given Trejo two romantic scenes. Trejo is the first action star who actually looks like he did fall off a tall building, get stabbed numerous times, and survived brutal beatings. But Trejo is no actor. In fact, he doesn’t even try.

I hope that Rodriguez has satisfied his Ode to Mexico with MACHETE, leaves the family behind, and works with talented screenwriters and crew. The entire production is ugly and it looks like there was absolutely no thought given to subtext – we keep getting hit over the head with Mexican jokes and the mantra about how bad white people in power are.

As a comedy, I didn’t laugh or cheer for anyone. And the ending was more frightening than any on-screen blood splatter.

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One Response »

  1. I had a great time at Machete. It was funny, had well-done action scenes and a colorful cast, a total comic book film and that’s the spirit it should be watched in. I could easily watch it again, unlike The Expendables or Wall Street 2. Trejo is like an 80s Bronson. I don’t any issue in Rodriguez making it family business. Over at IMDB, the film also generated a heated debate over the film’s “hidden agenda” (or not) about Mexican immigration into the US. I now wait for Machete 2.

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