Published On: Thu, Sep 16th, 2010

‘Machete’ film review by John Miller

I’m not going to front, for the last three years or so I have been patiently waiting with foolish optimism for this film to be made and released. Mainly because a big part of me was counting on this movie to be the film that would change the way people go to the movies. Thinking it would inspire some sort of grindhouse revival period where fans and filmmakers alike would turn away from the big glossy studio epics in favor of boobs, blood, creativity and all out non-pc fun.

Unfortunatly, “Machete” is far from the movie I imagined it to be. Nor is it even close to being the hardcore flick that was promised in the original fake trailer that inspired this movie. Not to say that it doesn’t deliver on the boobs, blood, creativity and all out non-pc fun, because it certainly does.

The problem is thats all it does.

My biggest complaint has nothing to do with story or the other various intangibles, it has to do with the direction of Robert Rodriguez. Man has this guy fallen off hard. I grew up on films like “Desperado” and “From Dusk Til Dawn”, back when the Double R actually had to use his talents behind the camera instead of being lazy and relying upon CGI / crafty editing to do all of the work for him.

I think about Rodriguez’s one time contemporary Quentin Tarantino and even though he is a hack, he still makes movies simply because he enjoys making movies. He doesn’t do it to cash in either like Rodriguez. Tarantino directs as though he still has something to prove, like he is out for nothing more then the respect. Rodriguez on the other hand seems to have been content with proving his skills behind the camera in the 90’s and peaking sometime around “Once Upon A Time In Mexico”, now he is all about the “Benjamins”. Or maybe he just realizes that times have changed and it isn’t as necessary to work so hard impressing audiences anymore.

Despite Rodriguez’s lazy directing, “Machete” suffers thanks to heavy handed politics. Not to say that I don’t agree with the message because I certainly do. The problem is that Rodriguez never lets the message soak into the movie, it is continuously beaten into the audiences skull. It feels like the same conversations are had 30 different times.

The other thing that bothered me, and this is always a big turn off in any film for me if not done correctly, is relying upon news coverage. Man I hate that.

Ok, the last negative before I begin showering praise upon this film is the same complaint I had for “The Expendables” (the other “throwback” film).

Too much damn CGI!

Is it so hard to just hire a professional Fx crew to hook your film up with adequate fake blood and latex wounds? CGI completely throws off the grindhouse feel and makes the movie feel more like I am watching a video game.

I mean come on, that is why grindhouse films from the 70’s-80’s have endured so long, because we love the Fx whether they be extremely cheesy or utterly mind blowing. Can you imagine watching Sonny Chiba in “The Street Fighter” going around kicking the shit out of people and cartoon blood spewing out?

Hell no! Bring back squibs and real explosions damnit!

The sickest and most diabolical aspect of this is that Rodriguez cast legendary Fx guru Tom Savini for a role in this movie. Seriously, how you going to have Savini in your movie but not hire him to do some bad ass Fx?

So now to the good stuff.

Danny Trejo is awesome and I love supporting this movie simply because the man has put in the work and his time has come. He is literally the American dream and I admire his story. Not to mention he may be the coolest genre actor of our generation. Hopefully this film will provide him with further opportunities as a leading man.

The rest of the cast is great as well, especially Jeff Fahey. I have vague recolections of Jeff Fahey being in other films but I mainly associate him with strait to video Pay-Per-View films and stuff on the USA network in the 90’s. Besides “Planet Terror” I’m not sure what the hell he was in, but he damn sure makes the most of his role in “Machete”.

Oh and Steven Seagal as his boss is priceless. That fake spanish accent was complete exploitation gold. Don Johnson nails it as a radical minute man type and Robert Deniro is basically just Robert Deniro but with an awesome Texas accent.

The story is good, even though it feels a little thrown together and rushed. Machete’s escape from the hospital is epic as is his hijinks with his enemies wife and daughter, classic. The nudity is about on par with where it should be in a film like this and major props for giving us a glimpse of a partially nude Jessica Alba and Lindsey Lohan. Don’t even get me started on how sexy Michelle Rodriguez is in this movie.

All in all “Machete” is worth the cost of admission and arguably the best movie of the summer just above “The Expendables”. As much as I loved the movie I just didn’t love it as much as I dreamed I would and that’s a shame.

If Robert Rodriguez had directed this film with the same intensity and skill as he did “Desperado” then this movie could / should have been one of the coolest movies ever made.

Read John Miller’s blog “Lampin @ The 6th Borough” regularly here: http://tha6thborough.blogspot.com/


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