by David Minkus
When I heard that Robert Rodriguez would be the first of the Grindhouse trailer directors to turn one of the trailers into a feature-length film, I was excited and scared at the same time. If you’ve see the original Machete trailer, you know why I’d be excited. I’ll be completely honest and say that I was scared that the concept wouldn’t work well as a full-length movie. How many SNL skits have we loved in a short form and then hated when it came to turning it into a feature film? So did Machete make a successful transition to full-blown film? If you’re a fan of the Grindhouse double-feature, I think you’re in for a good time.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVWaVzkbfFM[/youtube]
To briefly discuss the plot, the film is about a Machete (Danny Trejo), a Mexican cop who gets betrayed by his superior and his partner and tricked into a trap where drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal) murders his wife and daughter, then sets the building they’re in on fire. Somehow, Machete escapes and goes on a killing spree to avenge his family. The film also finds an interesting way to address the current immigration debate in the country.
Do you want to know how you’re in for a good time? Steven FREAKING Seagal plays a Mexican drug lord, complete with really bad spanish accent. I couldn’t help but giggle pretty much every time he opened his mouth. This is definitely not a movie to take itself seriously. Director Robert Rodriguez brought back Jeff Fahey from the original trailer to play a scheming campaign manager of Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro) who has an unhealthy infatuation with his daughter April (Lindsay Lohan). Bring in Michelle Rodriguez as a taco stand worker who rocks a bra with gun hoslters at the end of the film, and you have sheer insanity waiting to happen.
Danny Trejo may not have the greatest acting chops in the world, but he doesn’t have to in this kind of movie. He essentially plays the straight man to all the slapstick gore happening around him. He’s there to kill a LOT of people and he does so while looking like the bad man we need him to be.
If there’s a weak point to the movie, it’s when the film stops to try to talk about both sides of the immigration debate that’s so heated in the US right now. When the issue comes up in the midst of the action of the film, it’s perfectly fine. However, when a character stops to talk about one side or the other, the film comes to a grinding halt. My concern is that because the film is obviously on the side of the plight of illegal immigrants, people on the other side could see themselves being represented as a bunch of inbred hillbillies who can’t think for themselves. I don’t know what could’ve been done differently, but I had to remind myself that during the boring monologues, the people who are on the opposite side of the movie do actually have their case stated as well. Don’t get me wrong, Machete doesn’t set out to settle the immigration debate, but it does have the potential to piss off someone who’s looking for something to be pissed off about.
It’s also worth mentioning that the final fight of the film is a bit anticlimactic, but it fit in with the low-budget action homage that the rest of the film is. Ok, so the explosions are far bigger than your average grindhouse fare, but it’s still in line with most exploitation. I just bring it up so you don’t go into the film expecting Jason Statham vs. Jet Li-type fighting.
I want to talk about all the insane things in this film (ie. the most creative place to hide a cell phone ever put on screen, the return of the Crazy Babysitter Twins, how to rappel out of a window when you don’t have rope, etc.), but I’m not going to ruin them for you. I’m serious when I say that if you dug Planet Terror, the Machete trailer or the full Grindhouse double-feature, you’ll have fun with this. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you very well might be put of by the gratuitous amount of violence, low-budget gore and boobs that this movie has. If you see it, though, do yourself a favor. Don’t go to an early matinee. Go to a Friday or Saturday night sellout crowd to truly get your money’s worth. This is the kind of movie you’ll be yelling and cheering during.