Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Machete (Robert Rodriguez, 2010)

Well, it took me a while but I finally got around to watching Fan-Boy Icon Danny Trejo in Robert Rodriguez's neo-Mexploitation, Machete. Lots of Rodriguez regulars in this one. Aside from Trejo we have Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror), Cheech Marin (From Dusk 'til Dawn), Tom Savini (From Dusk 'til Dawn, Planet Terror), and Rodriguez's nieces Elektra and Elise Avellan ("The Crazy Babysitter Twins" from Planet Terror). In addition we have Robert DeNiro, Don Johnson, Nerd Girl of Note Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, and Steven Segal.

You may remember that the film sprung from a faux trailer created for Grindhouse (Tarantino/Rodriguez, 2007) about a Mexican hit man set-up by crooked politicians. It was a very Roger Corman way of going about things. Where Corman would make a poster then build a film around it, Rodriguez made a trailer. If nothing else it completely delivers on what it promises, and fits the Mexploitation genre perfectly. Like Blaxploitation, it has violence and sex, crooked white people getting their just desserts, and an underlying political message (though in this case, due to current trends in border security, the political message is very much on top). Blaxploitation films almost always had a revolutionary aspect, as does Machete.

While not a great film in all regards, it is a good exploitation film, taking much from the films it is modeled after and adding a touch of improved special effects. It gets a little corny at times, particularly with the army of cholos in low riders, but that is part of the formula. Trejo's acting is good. He can be extremely menacing and still deliver on the humor. He is definitely showing his age though. The man is sixty-seven years old, so you can't really let that bother you. Rodriguez pulls out some of his stunts from previous films, notably the limousine sun roof assault used with Trejo in Desperado (1995). Probably the most disappointing performance in the film is Jessica Alba's, who may have been trying to channel bad-actress vibes from the Seventies. If that is the case she should have taken some lessons from Lindsay Lohan who had that down pat. Steven Segal was likely good for Steven Segal. Jeff Fahey was Jeff Fahey, which is pretty good to begin with. Don Johnson and Robert DeNiro were fun as corrupt Texan fascists.

If you want to see a fun, gory slugfest with nasty villains and bad ass heroes, plus a little T&A on the side, this one is well worth your time. It is not the Jackie Brown of Mexploitation, but is still a lot of fun.


Timothy S. Brannan said...

I'll be honest. I really, really liked this movie. It was so over the top in everything it did, but at the same time still taking itself seriously to make it's point (and not seriously enough to do anything to get there).

Just a fun flick.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I liked it as well. There were some holes, but for the most part a fairly solid film. The poetic justice at the end was a nice, if not completely original, touch.

Lisa K. said...

Jessica Alba's "acting" bothered me so much that I was clutching to my seat everytime she appeared on screen and it seemed like the other audience members did the same.
Unfortunately it does look as if Rodriguez wants her for many, many, many other films.
Danny Trejo really made up for it though.

Darius Whiteplume said...

It was pretty cringe-worthy. She's one that I want to like, but she just doesn't help me to. :-)

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