Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Robert De Niro
Sure, thereís plenty of the ďfunĒ stuff (especially the kills), but MACHETE is definitely not your everyday mindless actionfest. Itís actually very reminiscent of the directorís previous work ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. If you didnít enjoy that kind of sprawling, multi-character plotline, then MACHETE is probably not for you. I liked OUATIM and I also liked what Rodriguez did with this character. A lot was made of the filmís political undertones, and while there were a few moments where the social commentary stuck out like a sore thumb, overall the conversation is tongue-in-cheek enough to fit within the ďMexploitationĒ feel. Even when the subject matter occasionally got ďheavy,Ē the movie still felt light and genre-appropriate. You canít really have it any other way in a movie where the Mexican hero uses gardening tools to kill people.
Not everything works perfectly, mind you, but MACHETE is definitely entertaining throughout and the majority of that praise is delivered at the feet of the man himself, Danny Trejo. While heís been beloved as a supporting character over the past two decades, the actor is perfect in the lead role as an action star, even though heís an unbelievable 66 years old. Heís cold, confident and likable in the way that the best tough guys are. (And with his gorgeous looks heís reminiscent of a Latino Charles Bronson.) Rodriguez is also smart to back him up with a more experienced cast and, boy, did he get one. The film boasts the likes of Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan (playing a drugged out whore, no less), effects guru Tom Savini, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson and Steven Seagal as a Mexican. All this movie needs is Michael Biehn and we can all die happy.
Between some of the more effective action beats (love the functional disemboweling) and iconic images (like Lohan as a nun and Cheech Marin as a killer priest), thereís lots of memorable stuff, but ironically where MACHETE suffers a bit is the shoehorning in of all the famous bits from the original trailer. Moments like the Gatling gun on the motorcycle are great, but a good chunk of the movie feels like Rodriguez is writing to the dialogue and plot set up in the preview, rather than the other way around, and honestly most of them donít really fit naturally in to the story he decided he wanted to tell. (The sex scene between the mother and daughter was particularly ridiculous.) The ending also gets a little too silly with the big ďrevolutionĒ showdown feeling too small in scale and almost becoming a parody of itself with Mexican gardeners, hot rods, dishwashers and even ice cream trucks that didnít fit the tone all that well.
But in the end, letís not forget that Iím writing about an ultraviolent mainstream movie starring Danny Trejo, where he gets to fight Steven Seagal and make out with Jessica Alba. The world ainít so bad a place sometimes.
Audience Reaction Track: I think tracks like this can be fun to listen to during the big crowd-pleasing moments, but I donít think Iíd ever sit down and listen to one all the way through.
Deleted Scenes (10:58): There were a few major subplots cut out, possibly to be saved for a future sequel. (Iím just guessing here.) One features Alba in a dual role also playing her sluttier, alcoholic twin named Sis, while the other sees Rose McGowan as a hitwoman named Boots McCoy, who uses a cat as a silencer. Thereís also more to flesh out De Niroís character and a scene to explain what happened to Tom Savini. Most of these are fairly quick and itís obvious to see why they were removed, but itís still fun to see such drastic changed.
Trailers and a Digital Copy are also included.
Extra Tidbit: I got a horrible case of food poisoning at the MACHETE Block Party at Comic-Con this past summer, from tacos that Iím pretty sure Robert Rodriguez made. Still totally worth it.