“Machete’’ began life as one of the fake trailers in “Grindhouse,’’ the 2007 Rodriguez-Quentin Tarantino collaboration that allowed both directors to pay homage to their splattery ’70s drive-in roots. Part of the gag was seeing Trejo, an ex-con and boxer who since the mid-’80s has been a visual signifier of extreme threat in the corner of over 140 movies, pretend to have a shot at a lead role. The far better gag is that Trejo holds the center of the expanded “Machete’’ beautifully, his death-whisper voice and that unforgettable slab of a face, etched with creases and sin, providing an anchor for the supporting stars to wheel around.
It’s fitting that Machete originated as a trailer, albeit a fake one, attached to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s ’70s-exploitation-movie homage Grindhouse. Trailers routinely assemble the most exciting parts of a movie into a two-minute punch, and in trailer form, the spectacularly violent adventures of a Mexican vigilante, driven home by subterranean-deep narration, certainly looked like one hell of an awesome movie. But a trailer isn’t a film, and in producing the feature-length version of Machete, Rodriguez and co-director Ethan Maniquis haven’t made the necessary adjustments. They try to make Machete into an extended trailer that’s all best parts, stitched together by a sloppy, needlessly convoluted plot and a lot of bluntly explicit messaging on the immigration issue. It’s often stylish and exciting, but the pile-up of cool kills, hot bodies, and other unprocessed bits of juvenilia doesn’t add up to a good time…read more [A.V.Club]
Conveniently timed to sprinkle gasoline on the fires of the immigration debate, Robert Rodriguez’s splatter comedy “Machete” has already riled up hardliners in advance of its release. Although laughter is the appropriate response to this pulpy, lighthearted gorefest, its pro-Mexican, anti-American stance is so gleefully inflammatory that some incensed nativists may refuse to get the joke.
Reacting to the film’s leaked screenplay, the radio talk show firebrand Alex Jones posted a YouTube video in which he warned that “Machete” could foment a “race war.” A comedy showdown with the Wayans brothers would seem more likely…read more [The New York Times]
Rodriguez’s movie is the calculated kind, of course, and he’s walking a line trod just two weeks ago by Alexandre Aja and Piranha: the line between reveling in irony as you make something deliberately “bad,” and using irony as an excuse to not have to make something better. Machete is much more successful at finding the balance. Plenty of the characters, dialogue, and performances are interesting in their own right, even outside the context. I suspect you could get a kick out of this even if you’ve never seen the type of movie it’s emulating…read more [film.com]
While Machete is one hilarious, madcap, blood-filled pinata party, it’s also one of the most politically charged action movies to come along this year.
The iconic big screen bad-ass Danny Trejo gets his much needed day in the sun as Machete, an ex- Mexican cop turned Texas day laborer who finds himself in the middle of the battle between borders, with double crossing politicians, vigilantes, cops, and cartels. All the while he’s becoming another legendary folk hero from the endless mind of Robert Rodriguez and the Troublemaker studio family…read more [ScreenJunkies]
At 105 minutes, “Machete” is at least half an hour too long for its own good. It would’ve worked better at that length as one-half of “Grindhouse,” certainly better than Rodriguez’s own “Planet Terror” did. The beheadings and behandings and eye-gougings and stiletto-heel-in-the-craniums are diverting for a while. If Robert Rodriguez ever learns to move his camera around in interesting ways, rather than editing a bunch of static, indistinctly framed shots together for effect, his willingness to try anything — and here, anyway, actually say something, albeit in a completely adolescent fashion — may lead to more compelling escapism than this…read more [Chicago Tribune]
Rodriguez and Maniquis gleefully go over the top in many sequences, with jokey displays of seriocomic carnage (at one point, Machete escapes from a shootout by using a bad guy’s intestines as a rappelling rope) and lightly clad beauties. Co-stars Jessica Alba (as a feisty ICE agent who allies herself with Machete) and Lindsay Lohan (boldly cast as a drug-addled, oversexed nymphet) provide a fair share of the latter, while Michelle Rodriguez (leader of an underground movement to protect undocumented Mexicans) generously contributes to a running gag about Machete’s irresistible appeal to every cutie he encounters…read more [Variety]
Within the first five minutes of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, his cheeky, freewheeling return to exploitation homage, there’s a car crash, a mutilation, a decapitation, a baker’s dozen deaths by blade, a naked lady, and a Steven Seagal sighting. And that’s not even mentioning the clamshell cell tucked up the naked lady’s hoo-ha. Then the film ramps right up to a pseudo-vintage, sprocket-skipping title sequence that promises the most deliciously random cast in recent memory: Jessica Alba AND Lindsay Lohan, Seagal AND Robert De Niro, a Nash Bridges reunion AND a Danny Trejo leading-man coronation. Though the film can’t reasonably maintain this 10-gags-a-minute trajectory, it sure does try. Forget modulation, nuance or storytelling, this is a movie that hits hard from first to last, no questions asked or logic followed…read more [Movieline]
It’s easy to admire Robert Rodriguez’s intended goal with Machete – to make the kind of offensive, politically incorrect film that played in grindhouse theaters in the ‘70s and ‘80s – but good intentions only go so far. In a strange way, Machete is almost too faithful to its ancestry. Sure, the violence is awe inspiring (at one point Machete repels down the side of a building using someone’s intestines, for crying out loud), and its adamant refusal to keep things comfy and PC is more than welcome, but its pacing gives the film too much slack rope with which to hang itself…read more [Hollywood.com]
Rodriguez is an old-hat at this sort of B-movie story-telling, but even he can’t avoid this “overdoing it” problem. Certain characters show up for seemingly no reason (a wannabe thug played by Spy Kids’ Daryl Sabara is especially pointless), others never quite pay off (unless I blinked and missed his fate, I’m pretty sure Savini’s character just vanishes from the film). And although I love over-the-top violence as much as the next guy, once you’ve seen one insanely violent action scene after another, it begins to lose some impact.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the film’s big action climax, which is unfortunately kind of underwhelming. By the time it rolls around, the movie’s anarchic spirit isn’t quite as fresh as it felt an hour and half ago. It also doesn’t help that it’s just not really all that captivating of an action set-piece. Oh, sure, there’s a lot going on, but it seems to exist just to give every character one more chance to show up and shoot somebody. The direction feels surprisingly lazy and uninspired during this sequence. This is the moment that should have been the most balls-to-the-wall of the entire movie, but instead it’s just sort of a string of goofy character moments…read more [411mania.com]
Machete is a movie specializing in the ridiculous and the insane, and the more insane it gets the more fun you’ll have. This is in large part thanks to Robert Rodriguez, who is so good at this genre that he should never be allowed to direct anything that isn’t a grindhouse movie ever again, and in part thanks to the cast which is unexpectedly really good at it too. Michelle Rodriguez looks better than she’s ever looked, Steven Seagal has a blast with a killer swordplay ending, and Danny Trejo grunts his way one step closer to becoming an action movie icon. Machete’s politics are a cringe-worthy mess but when it comes to over-the-top fun his blade is razor sharp…read more [Cinema Blend]
The 180—a Second Opinion: Folks with strong opinions on the illegal immigration debate, especially those in favor of a border fence, may take offense to the movie’s politics. Taking any of this too seriously, however, would be a mistake…read more [eonline]
Machete Movie Info
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Written by: Robert Rodriguez and Alvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Shea Whigham, and Lindsay Lohan
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.