Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Machete Don't Text"

     I was a pretty huge fan of the whole experience of witnessing 1997's double film Grindhouse at a theater on opening night. Two of the most interesting directors today, Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino, filled the two back-to-back films with nods to 1970's exploitation flicks while also retaining a modern feel and look. The two movies that comprised Grindhouse, Robert's Planet Terror and Quentin's Death Proof, were preceded by and separated in the middle by some unbelievably entertaining fake movie trailers created by some of the most exciting directors in horror working today (namely Edgar Wright and Eli Roth). Machete, directed by Rodriguez himself, was one of these fake trailers. I remember the trailer being hilarious and disgustingly violent, and when I heard the news that Rodriguez was making a film based off of this fake trailer, excitement set in. Unfortunately, Machete (when turned into a 102 minute film from a 3 minute preview), doesn't quite live up to the high expectations I had set for it.  While still funny and entertaining, it wasn't hilarious and amazing. It maintains it's momentum for much of the film, but slows down in the final act as something suspiciously close to boredom set into my mind. This isn't the type of film where you're expecting that to happen.
     The star of Machete is Danny Trejo. He is an extremely memorable actor, mostly due to his haggard face and weathered skin. He is an actor that is recognizable for life, due to his roles in films such as Desperado, Con Air, and From Dusk Till Dawn. He recently played a small (but memorable) part in AMC's Breaking Bad, far and away the best show on television. The story is typical for this sort of venture: a renegade Mexican Federale's family is mudered, so he roams the streets looking for work and revenge. He gets hired to kill a senator by a sketchy snaky man (played well by Lost's Jeff Fahey), but obviously things don't really go as planned. One of the problems that occurred during my viewing of the film is the amount of screen time that Danny Trejo has: for a movie titled the name of the main character, I expected way more ultra-violent killings and entertaining impalings and decapitations. This film is supposed to be over-the-top in a 1970's exploitation way--it just doesn't go over-the-top enough. Don't get me wrong: there are many interesting and original scenes (such as Machete swinging through a window by hanging onto someone's gutted-out intestines), but not enough to satiate my sick and twisted mind.
     Trejo and Fahey were great, and played their roles as well as anyone with this script could have. Even Robert De Niro and Cheech had some memorable lines. The other "actors" were (to be kind) fairly annoying. Three of the main women in the film, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsey Lohan, are clearly in this movie as future spank bank material for the male and lesbian viewers. Michelle Rodriguez might as well have ducktape covering her mouth and a sign with an arrow that points down to her stomach and barely covered clam. Jessica Alba's Braveheart-esque motivational speech near the end of the film was laughable at best and stab-a-fucking-ice-pick-into-my-ears-and-eyes at worst. Lindsey Lohan is topless most of the entire runtime, but unfortunately her split-ended and grimy-looking hair covered a big percentage of her breasts. (That's a body double in her 3-way sex scene.) Pretty much the only reason for Lindey Lohan living would be to have her completely naked in every film role that she is cast in, and that almost happens here, but not quite. Oh yeah, some girl also keeps a cell phone in her vagina. While that might seem like an original idea, I'm sure every girl has tried that since the invention of the vibrate setting.
     I feel like I am being a bit harsh, but that's only because I have my standards set so high when it comes to these types of projects. Machete was still enjoyable and fun as a whole, and a lot of these complaints don't do that much to ruin the overall fun factor. It's a sloppy, interesting ride of violence, breasts and backstabbing, while all the while hitting you over the head with some basic political ideologies about illegal immigration. However, as I stated before, the film doesn't push the boundaries far enough: instead of making fun of past exploitation flicks with more gore, more tits, and more comedy, the extreme nature of the film goes lower and lower until is comes precariously close to being as entertaining as the films it's supposed to be homaging.      (B-)

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