Rewind Review: Machete
As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
Machete is the kind of movie that will leave you smiling ear to ear from beginning to end. The film is absolutely non-stop entertainment, laughs and action and one of the more enjoyable movie experiences you’re likely to have this year. Robert Rodriguez is a director who has two very disparate personas there is his action side and his kid’s film side. It’s kind of hard to compare the two but in terms of straight-up action this is likely his best offering since the cinematic miracle that put him on the map, El Mariachi.
One thing you need to know is that this movie is a grindhouse film from start to finish. There are intentional and digitally rendered scratches on the film in the opening portion, there are outlandish situations, gratuitous nudity and some over-the-top performances all done with a tongue-in-cheek spin to make it all spot on.
This is a film that owes its genesis to Rodriguez’s 2007 collaboration with Quentin Tarantino on the Grindhouse double-feature. In which we first saw a glimpse of Machete in a spoof trailer. Leave it to Robert Rodriguez to have the guts to like his idea enough to bring it to the big screen as a feature and it has been worth the wait.
What helps drive this film along is perhaps the best scoring in a film by Robert Rodriguez since Spy Kids. Robert does not take the task alone this time but has a band assembled referred to as Chingon and the sum is definitely greater than the whole of its parts. It is the toe-tapping overdrive that is needed for such a story.
Not only does this film remain in the grindhouse style from start to finish but it is so through to its bones meaning there will be no attempt at subtlety in conveying its message about immigration policies in this country. It occasionally comes right out and hits you over the head with them, typically in a very funny way but it all fits and makes sense. It is also commendable that as silly and fun as it is most of the time it still manages to be about something and is not just pure escapism.
Robert Rodriguez’s films are always notable for their casting. He typically gets commitments from bigger names by having them take smaller parts they like and working them only a few days but at the same time, like many established directors, he has his stable of favorites. Here he might just have done his best balancing act of his career. Of course, you have Danny Trejo as the titular character who is convincing every step of the way through and though he is age-wise in the ballpark of many of the stars of The Expendables it never crosses your mind (and odds are he can take a few). There’s Cheech Marin, who here he plays a priest in a much more convincing and Cheech-like way than he did in The Perfect Game because the circumstances are vastly different and you have Daryl Sabara, formerly the younger half of the Spy Kids tandem, as a member of “The Network” in a hysterical turn.
On the flip-side you have Robert De Niro as two-faced Texas State Senator, Don Johnson as a man hunting border-jumpers, Jeff Fahey as a duplicitous campaign manager and Jessica Alba, fittingly placed as an agent who has turned her back on her heritage and arrests illegal immigrants. Not to mention Lindsay Lohan in a part where few will reasonably think she’s acting and, of course, Steven Seagal who…well you just have to see it as it’s indescribably funny. It’s the perfect balance.
This film is downright hysterical from start to finish and is without question one of the best films of the year and will be hard to top as the most enjoyable time I had watching a movie. The end teases sequels and hopefully there are, and if there are Rodriguez certainly traded up dumping Sin City for this. This is an absolute triumph for Robert Rodriguez.