At this point, nine months deep into the year 2010, it is pretty hard to imagine how any movie will be more fun than Machete. Full of blood, guts, naked ladies, awesome actors and just the right amount of humor, this is a perfect Friday night movie – normally a theater full of people will just result in annoyance and disturbances, but Machete will likely bond theaters full of people together in a joyous celebration in the wonders of cinema. Because after all, it is a downright miracle that we get to watch a crazy movie like this with ex-con turned thespian Danny Trejo in the lead role; this is something that most studio heads would balk at, but it is also something about which writer/director/producer Robert Rodriguez dreams.
In case you’ve been living under a cinematic rock, Machete started life as a fake trailer for Grindhouse, and years later, this fake trailer has turned into a real movie. Trejo plays Machete, a Mexican federale who finds himself trying to get by as a day laborer in the good ole US of A. When he gets hired by a man named Booth (Jeff Fahey, The Lawnmower Man, Planet Terror) to kill an immigrant hating Senator (Robert De Niro, a whole bunch of Scorsese movies), he gets set up by the very people who hired him, and he sets out to clear his name and take bloody, awful revenge on the people who tried to take him out. Along the way he gets mixed up with an immigration officer (Jessica Alba, Sin City), a food truck operator slash Mexican immigrant revolutionary named Luz (Michelle Rodriguez, Avatar), and together they combine to try to take down Booth, the Senator, a militia border patrol led by a psychotic leader Von (Don Johnson, Miami Vice, Nash Bridges), and Mexican drug lord Torrez (a hilariously and purposefully miscast Steven Seagal, Seagalogy: The Study of the Ass Kicking Films of Steven Seagal).
Weirdly, this story feels like it is both haphazard and remarkably tight. Robert Rodriguez found a way to balance a bevy of ridiculous characters with a story that increases in insanity as it moves along, but does so in a natural and organic way. By the time Machete shows up with a weed whacker converted as a bad ass weapon, the audience should be totally sucked in to the absurdity of the movie and the heightened sense of violence, and this multi-bladed weed whacker doesn’t seem out of place at all. Hell, by the time Machete easily slaps a gatling gun onto a motorcycle, nothing should be considered impossible or ridiculous. The tone of the movie is a mixture of seriousness and fun, and while there are a few moments that threaten to tip over into pure spoof territory, most of the film plays out with a pretty straight face, which just makes it that much funnier.
It’s a little hard to explain how truly crazy and awesome Machete gets without giving away the best gags and moments, as part of the fun of a movie like this is letting the insanity reveal itself and wash over the audience. Why should I tell you how awesome Steven Seagal and Don Johnson are when you can just see it for yourself? Okay, I’ll give you a little taste of their awesomeness. Seagal is great as Torrez, and his awful Spanish accent is part of the fun. Plus he has an unexplained Japanese samurai fetish that fits Seagal perfectly – it is as if Rodriguez read Seagalogy and knew exactly how to use the man. Don Johnson, meanwhile, is deliciously evil and jerky as the leader of the Mexican killing militia, and manages to do the most with the limited screen time he has. Jeff Fahey is great and deserves more work (and not on television), and Cheech Marin gets some of the best lines and moments as Machete’s brother (this is where the audience learns the difference between Cuban and Mexican cigars).
Of course, this is Danny Trejo’s movie. He’s appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, but this is the first time he gets to headline a movie and he kills it. He is totally believable as the baddest man to come out of Mexico, and he plays the role perfectly. He only speaks when he needs to, and even then it’s at a minimum. He lets his machetes (and other improvised weapons) do most of the talking for him. Hell, when he gets into a fight for money, he doesn’t even bother putting down his burrito. He just calmly eats and plays around with his opponent, dodging punches and munching away. And of course he gets to bed every woman available, including a ridiculous in-pool threesome with a Mom-Daughter combo (the daughter played by Lindsay Lohan and her body double), and each time Machete finds himself in a sexy scene, the score switches over to awesome 70’s-style porn music, full of wah-wahs and funkiness.
What else do you need? Machete is a great movie. Everyone making it obviously had a lot of fun doing so, and it comes across on screen. Get ready for copious amounts of ridiculous beheadings, as well as the best use of a string of disemboweled intestines since Ricky-Oh: The Story of Ricky. The movie ends with a promise of a trilogy, and hopefully the world will be granted these future cinematic gifts. But for now, Machete will serve as a great and bloody way to pass time at a theater.
The Trailer Rundown:
The Town – this trailer intrigued me the first dozen times I saw it. Now I just want the damn movie to come out already so they can stop showing the trailer. Good golly.
Jackass 3D – again, the first time I saw this trailer I was cracking up and ready to check out the film. Now when I see the trailer, I don’t care anymore. I’ve seen the same gags over and over and the humor is wearing off on them, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet. The danger of over saturation.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – *siiiiiiiiigh* See the previous two entries.
The Green Hornet – I really want to like this movie and I hope Michel Gondry knocks it out of the park, but this trailer inspires no confidence in me. Just gonna have to wait until January 2011 so I can see it for myself.
Unstoppable – the fifth Tony Scott – Denzel Washington team up looks pretty decent. An unmanned runaway train is barreling toward a highly populated area and of course, only Denzel can stop it (with the help of Star Trek‘s Chris Pine). Looks like a Tony Scott movie, that’s for sure.
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