One of the most successful elements in Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino’s little seen double feature GRINDHOUSE was a smattering of fake trailers. They were funny and totally authentic recreations of ‘70s drive-in fare with the titles “Don’t!”, “Werewolf Women Of The SS”, “Thanksgiving”, “Hobo With A Shotgun” * and “Machete”.
Now MACHETE is a real full length “Mexploitation” film with many of the same actors with re-stagings of shots from the phony trailer. Danny Trejo plays the title role – a crusty ex-Federale badass who is hired by a shady Jeff Fahey to assassinate a corrupt senator (Robert De Niro) running for office on a platform of severe anti-illegal-immigration laws.
Trejo soon finds out that he has been set up and goes on the lam. With the help of Michelle Rodriguez as a taco-truck lady/revolutionary warrior and Jessica Alba as a saucy immigrations officer, Trejo set outs to track down those who did him wrong.
A nice collection of B and C-movie actors like Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and Steven Seagal put in nice supporting turns but Lindsay Lohan as Fahey’s air-headed daughter is a really odd choice for this kind of material.
MACHETE boasts enough in-your-face action, explosions, and blood to make THE EXPENDABLES look like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, but it’s still not that great of a movie.
It seems that Rodriquez (and co-director/co-writer Ethan Maniquis) just can’t give up the GRINDHOUSE. It’s a genre that would be mostly forgotten if wasn’t for film geek film makers like Rodriquez and Tarantino (and in my area – the Triangle in N.C. – if not for the awesome “Cinema Overdrive” series at the Colony Theater in Raleigh), but their new fangled takes on such seedy exploitation don’t really seem to be catching on.
And again this begs the question – what is Lindsey Lohan doing here? She spends half her role nude then she’s dressed as a nun with a gun. None of it does much for the movie so I’m really stumped by her presence.
Some of the material in this movie and its tacky tone is fun at first, especially the opening, but it grew really tiresome as the body count grew bigger. Machete, the character, is just not that interesting. Trejo performs the actions with a stoical grace, but if you take away the slashing mayhem, but there’s nothing really there.
Maybe that’s a strange complaint because the men in the movies that this is a loving tribute to didn’t really have deep personas either. They were dolls thrown around or sliced and diced. They were movies that were all about pure cheap thrills.At a budget of $20 million MACHETE is not so cheap though it tries to disguise that with fake scratches and bad splices. It should’ve just stayed being a 2 minute fake trailer for a nonexistent bad movie. Now that bad movie exists. * Next year "Hobo With A Shot Gun" will also get the full length film treatment. Let's see how that will work out for them. More later...