"Machete" Movie Review

9/07/2010 Posted by Admin

"Machete" Movie Review

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, Written by Robert and Alvaro Rodriguez, 105 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Who would've thought it would take more than a decade and Robert Rodriguez, of all people, to finally get another great performance out of Robert De Niro? And he is just one of many reasons to absolutely love "Machete," the latest ode-to-the-grindhouse opus from Rodriguez (this time partnered behind the camera with long-time editor Ethan Maniquis).

The film, an extension of the fake trailer Rodriguez put together for his and fellow z-movie aficionado Quentin Tarantino's "Grindhouse," follows a former Mexican federal agent, Machete (Danny Trejo), whose family has been murdered by the ruthless drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal). He lives on the streets and gets by working illegally out of Texas, but when he's framed by a sleazy businessman named Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) and is caught in a war between a network of Mexican immigrants and a senator who wants the borders closed for good (De Niro), Machete has no choice but to decide what he believes in and fight for it.

Or, more simply, Machete gets in a lot of awesome fights with faceless goons and a lot of talented (and not-so-talented) actors ham it up beyond comprehension and make for some of the most uproarious and crazy entertainment since, well, "Grindhouse."

Rodriguez has been hit-or-miss for most of his career--despite his inspirational "one man film crew" techniques and overall likability, a lot of his films (especially those of the "Spy Kids" variety) are complete messes. But when he knows precisely what he's doing and he allows his excesses to completely take him over, he tends to succeed with flying colors. "Planet Terror," his entry to "Grindhouse," was one such instance where embracing the absurdity resulted in one of his best films, and "Machete" is another. Even the political commentary involving immigration and corruption that drives the film is used in jest, and though good points are made, the film's focus is always entertainment first and foremost.

As always, Rodriguez directs with deadly assurance--he's just about the best director around when it comes to goofy shlock like this, and it's incredible how much effort he puts in to make an ode to films made by effortless hacks. Still, the attention to detail makes "Machete" just as accurate a portrait of these ridiculous '60s and '70s genre movies as "Grindhouse" was, and often it's even better, simply because Rodriguez has become a good deal less self-referential in his homage.

Most of the great stuff here, though, comes out of the performances. This is a fantastic cast, and every single player is perfect. Trejo is suitably dry and tough as his Bronson-esque protagonist--he's played this same type of role long enough that he could do it in his sleep. Cheech Marin, "Spy Kids" co-star Daryl Sabara (finally graduating to Rodriguez's R-rated movies class), Michelle Rodriguez, and Jessica Alba are great in their supporting roles, but the film is at its best with its villains. Fahey and Seagal get a lot of good stuff out of their roles, and you can tell their getting a good laugh out of it, but De Niro is the real standout. His faux-hick, sleazy, George W. Bush-aping senator is one of the best characters he's played in a long time, and watching him put on goofy affected accents and charge through a gunfight with silly outfits on is simply hysterical.

"Machete" will never be called dignified entertainment and, really, that's what makes it one of the best action movies in a long time.

Grade: B+

Here is a link to WeekinRewind's interview with Cheech Marin.

Below is the trailer for "Machete."  What did you think of the movie?

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