Review: Machete

6 10

PLOT: An ex-Federale, MACHETE (Danny Trejo) is double crossed and left for dead by a vicious Mexican drug kingpin, Torrez (Steven Seagal). Three years later, he turns up in Texas, where he’s hired by the mysterious Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro), whose campaign is aimed at ridding the state of illegal immigrants and erecting a large electrified wall along the U.S/ Mexican border.

REVIEW: I’ll say this, MACHETE makes for a great trailer. As a film, well it’s hit and miss. For the first twenty minutes, MACHETE totally rocked my world. It opens up with an awesomely cheesy action scene complete with excessive, over-the-top violence, loads of nudity (including a rather novel place to hide a cell phone), and Steven Seagal. At this point, I truly thought MACHETE was going to be a gloriously schlocky action ride harkening back to the best days of exploitation action (aka the seventies and eighties).

Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to the badass opening. It’s not bad for what it is, but it feels more like feature-length joke than an actual action film. To that extent, MACHETE is entertaining. While Danny Trejo doesn’t have a heck of a lot to do here other than slice baddies up with his machete, he certainly looks badass, and seems to be relishing his turn to play hero. As one of the baddies, Robert DeNiro looks to be having more fun than he’s had in years as the cornball, wannabe cowboy senator, and his role is more substantial than you’d think, with him playing the second main antagonist.

Of course, the big bad is none other than Seagal. While the years have not been particularly kind to Seagal, his new sweaty, sleazy look suits his coke kingpin character. For my money, Seagal’s been over and done with since just after EXIT WOUNDS, but he’s surprisingly effective as the villain, and his final showdown with Trejo is both badass, and funny (Seagal’s last few lines are classic).

In terms of eye candy, we get the lovely Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez. For Rodriguez, this is pretty much old hat, with her playing a character that’s not unlike the one she played in THE FAST & THE FURIOUS, but she looks great, especially sporting an eye patch (and not much else) later in the film. Alba’s got the lion’s share of screen time, with her probably getting more time in front of the camera than even MACHETE himself. While I think she’s a little too petite to play an action heroine (Rodriguez is more effective in that regard), she looks great and seems to be having fun. She also gets a wonderfully gratuitous shower scene, which will likely be screen-capped on MovieHotties once this sucker hits disc.

We also get the newly infamous Lindsay Lohan, playing- well, a drug-addled slut. This seems to be playing into the image of Lohan these days, but it made me a little sad to see this formerly talented actress (she showed a lot of promise in MEAN GIRLS), who could have gone the way of Rachel McAdams, look over the hill at 23.

The real scene stealers here are two eighties icons, Jeff Fahey, and Don Johnson. Fahey, who played lots of secondary villains back in the day, and the lead in loads of early nineties cable movies (and recently had an arc on LOST), turns up in a juicy role as DeNiro’s slimy campaign manager, who also happens to be the father of Lohan’s character. Fahey’s turned into a great character actor, similar to someone like Michael Parks, and I hope this brings him more work (it must be said, his mullet is FANTASTIC). The other, Johnson, gets a scene stealing role as a psychotic minute-man style border guard, whose idea of immigration control includes shooting anyone he seems stepping onto American soil. He plays a real bastard, and one that’s about as far removed from Sonny Crockett as you can get, but he’s terrific.

But back to why MACHETE didn’t quite work as a true action film. I guess a part of me was hoping MACHETE would take itself a bit more seriously, as sometimes it comes across like a MADTV sketch gone crazy. It’s also far too long at 105 minutes, with the mid-section dragging badly. If it had been cut down to a lean eighty minutes, MACHETE might have played a bit better. I also found the action scenes way too cartoonish- which I suppose is the point, but once again, I wish more of an effort had been made to make this feel like a real action flick. It tried awfully hard to ape the kinds of exploitation films we got in the eighties, but even at their most ridiculous, I don’t remember SUPERFLY or SHAFT ever disemboweling a guy, and then using his lower-intestines as a grappling hook.

That said, I had a good enough time with MACHETE to give it a recommendation, just as long as you don’t go in expecting something as slick as THE EXPENDABLES. It’s still a fun little flick, and I’m always one for a good, low-brow, defiantly R-rated action flick, but it does feel like PIRANHA 3D kinda scratched that itch. While I do wish MACHETE had been more DESPERADO than ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, it’s still not bad at all for what it is, and I hope Robert Rodriguez and the folks at Troublemaker keep making films their way. As for the proposed MACHETE KILLS, I guess I’m down.

Extra Tidbit: Rumor has it, Quentin Tarantino has a fake trailer called AGENT ORANGE attached to MACHETE, but the version I saw didn’t include any such trailer. Then again, it’s possible that it’s being saved until the film goes into general release.
Source: JoBlo.com



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