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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 36
Bloody Machete goes back to the grindhouse
Arts & Entertainment
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Bloody Machete goes back to the grindhouse

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer Machete
Opening
September 3


Three years after drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal) kills his wife and child and then leaves him for dead, former Mexican Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) finds himself across the border in Texas trying to find work as a day laborer. But after Booth (Jeff Fahey) contracts him to kill incumbent anti-immigration State Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) only to double-cross him, the one-time law enforcement officer wants vengeance, and the bloodstained trail leads back to the criminal who originally made him an outlaw.

Im not really sure what there is to say about Robert Rodriguezs (El Mariachi, Sin City, Spy Kids) latest B-movie creation Machete, other than to point out this is a schlock genre enterprise based on a fake trailer crafted for his and Quentin Tarantinos 2007 double-bill Grindhouse. If you were one of the people in the audience who cheered the sight of Danny Trejo soaring through the sky on a motorcycle equipped with a machine gun, then this is the movie for you. If you were not, or even if just the sound of something like that makes your eyes roll and starts to turn your stomach, then it is not. Simple as that. No more detail required.

If only that were true. Sadly, as this is review, I am supposed to come up with something interesting or witty or even vaguely sarcastic to say about it. The problem is that nothing is coming to mind. Yes, Rodriguez (working with co-director Ethan Maniquis) has a blast rummaging around in his genre playpen. Sure, there are moments of extreme bloodletting and gore that are as truly extraordinary as anything the filmmaker as ever unleashed. And, of course, it is borderline awesome to watch 67-year-old Trejo continue to be a total badass, rip peoples throats out, and bed every 20-something (like Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and, yes, Lindsay Lohan) that comes his way.

All of this is very cool, but Im not entirely sure its entertaining. At 105 minutes, its way too long, and Rodriguez is unable to maintain momentum, even though the films violently absurdist tone never wavers. It also doesnt quite know where to go or how to end, though it needs to use as many scenes from that fake trailer as possible, and save the majority of them for the absurdly silly climax. But by then the thrill is sadly gone, and no amount of intestinal fluid or cranial trauma can change that fact.

Not that all of this cant be fun. I enjoyed a great deal of the picture, especially during the wild and wooly first half when Machete is busting out of a hospital using a poor guys innards as a rope or when Michelle Rodriguez is using a raw egg as some sort of mystical medical device. I absolutely adored all of De Niros fake senatorial commercials which, considering the vitriol being unleashed during the currently raging political debates, arent nearly as far-fetched as wed like them to be. Finally, any movie that can make me laugh and want to puke almost in the very same instant cant be all bad, and if seen in a packed theatre with an audience receptive to that sort of thing, its almost impossible not to sit back and enjoy oneself.

Still, as nice as those statements are, at a certain point the whole thing devolves into nothing more than a mildly amusing, sometimes disgusting, an often too sadistic for its own good cacophony of noise. I grew tired of the film, no longer as captivated by the wily off-center whirligig as I was during the first couple of acts. By the time it was finished, I just didnt care anymore, and while I cant get worked up enough to throw anything close to a fit, that doesnt mean Im willing to give the film a pass, either. The bottom line is that Machete was borderline entertainment to begin with, and in the end the only work visa or green card I see this one getting is for early access into the DVD bargain bin at your local Best Buy.

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