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Movie Review: Machete (2010)

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Can a feature length film be made from a two minute fake trailer? If director Robert Rodriguez’s Machete is of any indication, a whole new genre could be giving birth. While the original “trailer” ran before the start of the Grindhouse double bill back in 2007, both of those films (Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof) have gone on to receive extended cuts and separate video releases. However, talks have swirled about a full length feature for Machete, a role Danny Trejo was born to play.

While Trejo has never received first billing, he’s certainly had all the prowess necessary to carry a film. Leave it to Rodriguez to find a role ultimately suited for no one else to play. And in another way, had anyone but Rodriguez made a film of this ilk, it would most definitely get bashed on and deemed as being racist and misogynistic. Thankfully everyone I attended the film with certainly got the joke and laughed hysterically throughout. This is the film Rodriguez needed to bide his time waiting for Sin City 2 to finally get the green light.

Speaking of which, Rodriguez unfortunately has plans up his sleeve for a fourth installment of his Spy Kids series. While the original was a pretty fun family flick, Spy Kids 2 showed that the element of fun was beginning to slip and Spy Kids 3-D proved that the joke had officially been run into the ground. After bearing witness to the atrociousness of Spy Kids 3-D, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl 3-D, and his worst film yet, Shorts, I would rather see Rodriguez direct just about anything else than another Spy Kids film. Let alone the fact that his so-called “Kids” are now 22 and 18.

To keep things simple, Machete finds our new favorite “Mexican Federale” left for dead after Mexican drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal) kills Machete’s wife before his eyes. Three years later Machete is propositioned by Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) to kill corrupt Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) for $150,000. But it’s all a set up and now Machete is on the run to clear his name and reap revenge finding help in everyone from taco vendor Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) who may or may not be a legend herself named “She” to his now priest brother Padr (Cheech Marin). He also finds help from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) who likes to think a lot and ponder naked in the shower when she’s not offering to help get the papers Machete needs to become a citizen himself.

A plead to Rodriguez – please stop making your crappy family films and give more back to your fans as you have with Machete. Leave them to pasture and make another El Mariachi installment. Hell, anything! When I see your name billed as director I expect to see something along the lines of El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City or Planet Terror. Even your segment of Four Rooms was the best part of that 50/50 debacle, and The Faculty was a tried and true guilty pleasure.

The cast gives their all, some even unexpectedly baring all for better and worse. Marin as an expletive-spewing shotgun-toting priest is beyond genius and casting DeNiro as a racist senator was a hilarious touch even if the joke eventually starts to wear thin. My only true negative is that all the over the top outlandishness starts to lose steam as there really is only so many ways you can dispatch someone to a pile of red squib but it certainly is fun while it lasts.

And who knew you could so conveniently hide a cell phone as one woman proves. Sometimes I think Rodriguez lets the film run a little repetitive so that when something truly great happens you can appreciate it more. After all, how many times can you watch someone get obliterated with a gun shot in 105 minutes before you get bored? It’s the same beef I have with Planet Terror. I know Rodriguez revels in guerilla filmmaking but maybe take a little more time to caress your script instead of just throwing buckets of blood on the walls of your sets.

A final note is that apparently 2010 is the return of on screen full frontal female nudity between Machete, Piranha 3D and I hear it also pops up in The American. Maybe Hollywood has realized that their movies need to be a bit more titillating to get our butts in those seats?

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.