(directors: /Ethan Maniquis; screenwriters: /Álvaro Rodriguez; cinematographer: Jimmy Lindsey; editors: Robert Rodriguez/Rebecca Rodriguez; music: Chingon; cast: Danny Trejo (Machete), (Torrez), Michelle Rodriguez (Luz), (Booth), (Padre), (April), Alicia Rachel Marek (June), (Lt. Von Stillman), (Sartana), (Senator McLaughlin), Shea Whigham (Sniper); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Rodriguez/Elizabeth Avellán/Rick Schwartz; 20th Century Fox; 2010)
“ all give equally stilted performances, and if you didn’t know better you would think all three thespians were losers.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi”)and Ethan Maniquis co-direct this grisly, nonsensical, and cynical Mexploitation pic that has little entertainment value to gain from its crass jokes and no social redeeming value despite trying to make a naive political statement about illegals as valued immigrants. It makes its case for the illegals getting the shaft by goofing around with its stereotyped oddball cartoonish characters and inundating us with a bloodbath scenario to appeal to the usual suspects who can’t get enough gratuitous violence in their lives. It’s the kinda pic featuring wall-to-wall gruesome cartoonish violence to titillate the viewer with sundry brutal ways to maim the many vics; in other words it’s an homage to poorly made grindhouse films. The film’s fun is to watch a few machete be-headings, a vile but kindly priest (Cheech Marin) shooting it out with drug gang enforcers and then crucified in his church, and a climactic bloody gang war between the good guy Mexican illegals and the bad guy white clichés
all give equally stilted performances, and if you didn’t know better you would think all three thespians were losers. Machete originated as a 3-minute fake trailer to Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s ’70s-exploitation-movie homage to grindhouse films and stays true to form as a trailer that never feels right as a feature B film, yet begs to become a franchise with expected sequels if the public buys into this sloppily made over-the-top action/comedy pic. If you must see this pic, I would recommend catching the fake trailer–it runs for only a few minutes and covers the same ground as the film.
The plot line has Machete (Danny Trejo, the ugly pock-mocked 66-year-old Mexican-American actor’s first leading role), an intrepid Mexican Federale, disobeying his corrupt police bosses and going after powerful Mexican drug cartel kingpin Torrez (). Their opening confrontation rewards the audience with countless dead, as Machete slices his way through Torrez’s henchmen. Pained because Torrez beheaded his wife in front of him and later his daughter in an offscreen execution, the story picks up three years later and the fired Federale turns up at a Texas border town as an illegal looking for work as a day laborer.
A white stranger named Booth (
The cheesy comical gorefest movie reduces everyone, including its bad-assed honest hero, Machete, to a roach. It’s an exploitation film meant to cash in on the recent immigration controversy. As political satire, it’s too juvenile and scattered to push anyone’s buttons on either side of the controversy. It’s just an empty pic filled with kinky sex and torture scenes that tries to get some laughs over its relentless violence and from caricature figures like Lindsay Lohan playing the spoiled rich slutty daughter of the venal, greedy and perverted American power broker Fahey and the hammy De Niro as an amalgam type of most right-wing Texas politicians (especially of George W. Bush).
The film’s funniest line has Trejo say in a matter of fact but emphatic tone that “Machete don’t text.”
Machete is co-written by Rodriguez and his cousinÁlvaro Rodriguez.
REVIEWED ON 9/5/2010 GRADE: C