Directors: Robert Rogriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba
Dirty Grindhouse fun or balls-out political commentary. You can't have both. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy bits of Machete, the feature spun off from the spoof trailer by blood-thirsty B-movie king Robert Rodriguez. As you'd expect, it's ridiculously stupid and unapologetically violent. A piece of trash and nothing more.
Determined to deliver on the body count promised by the original two-minute kill-fest, Machete opens with an absurdly genius prologue - which sees arms, legs and heads hacked off with insane abandon. Then, as a woman pulls out a phone from a place where phones don't belong, Steven Seagal enters with a terrible Mexican accent. The movie never quite recovers.
Of course, the bad guy is meant to be dreadful, right down to the tacky bright red sword he swishes around like a kid playing pirates. But then along comes the brilliantly-named Senator John McLoughlin (De Niro), a redneck vigilante (Johnson) and an evil political aide, all planning the former's re-election to power. That's a few too many bad guys for Machete (Trejo) to take on.
Not that he doesn't try. Using everything from guns and knives to gardening tools (a surefire way for a Mexican to be allowed into anyone's house), it's a demented tour through Rodriguez's arsenal of gore. Even the infamous intestine jump from a window still packs an entertaining punch. But these bursts are few and far between, the film resting on Danny Trejo's stone-faced delivery to carry the dumb-as-bricks dialogue.
With all their over-complicated plotting, Rodriguez and his cousin Alvaro lose sight of the basic premise that fuels the screenplay. This is no longer a revenge flick but an elaborate actioner, which forgets its simple roots - much like the director's previous Grindhouse project, Planet Terror. Cheech Marin's gun toting priest is great for his brief time on screen, but the sex objects, immigration agent Sartana (Alba) and revolutionary leader Luz (Rodriguez), are both shallow and superfluous. Lindsay Lohan even more so.
That said, this is no Death Proof. Rodriguez definitely gets exploitation cinema. His co-director Ethan Maniquis helps ramp up the style with blood-splattered glee and for the first half, at least, it's rather infectious. But by the end, Machete's blade is too blunt and is only good for cutting through the audience's high hopes.
Machete don't text. Machete disappointing. Machete better as trailer.
- cheech marin
- danny trego
- don johnson
- jessica alba
- lindsay lohan