Machete (Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez) 2010
Yeah, I’m late to the party. I finally caught it with some co-workers this weekend. So, I’m going to cut through plot synopsis and some usual chit chat to go into what I loved/hated about it. First with the hate.
My number one problem by a wide margin is Jessica Alba. If she dragged down Sin City with only about ten minutes of screen time, then she cripples a movie by sharing the screen time with Danny Trejo. Yeah, she gets just as much screen time; if not more than the title character. Rodriguez seems to be repeating the same problem with Once Upon a Time in Mexico. That being cluttering up his film with too many characters and delegating the main character to a supporting role. In OUATIM, at least Johnny Depp was entertaining. In Machete, Jessica Alba is simply dreadful. Her character is written horribly, but that doesn’t change the fact she has less than no personality (she somehow sucks the joy off the screen), and her line reads are terrible. When she delivered the line “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” I think I joined my six friends in projectile vomiting. Her character contributes nothing, and getting through her story arc is a painful slog. If you cut her scenes out of this movie I would love this movie. I don’t care if it then becomes a 45 minute short film, it would be infinitely better than the shit you give me now.
Speaking of useless, let’s move onto Lindsay Lohan. She sucks, her character is also pointless, and I’m not going so suffer through her acting for any amount of obscured boobs. And while I like Don Johnson and Robert DeNiro as actors, they have absolutely nothing to do in this movie.
A point of discussion with this film is the politics. And while I don’t have a problem with a movie having a political message, I think Rodriguez goes a little overboard. There is a difference between delivering a message and getting on a soapbox and being didactic. Not to turn this into a political review (so I’m not going to linger on it), I am open to immigration reform, but I was getting tired of the brow beating every five minutes and the over the top idea of essentially erasing the borders completely.
I also think the ending suffers from the problem of excess. Yes, I know this whole movie is over the top with the satire but you can overdo it. The climax had an endless parade of Rodriguez’s characters to stand in front of the camera and fire a machine gun. It’s like Rodriguez lost his way completely with the story and just decided to have his cast take one final bow.
Now, let me talk about what I liked. I did like Michelle Rodriguez and she had a good role in this movie. I also loved Steven Seagal as the Mexican drug kingpin Torrez. Hearing him use a Spanish accent and ham it up is hilarious. Jeff Fahey is great and should have gotten more screen time. And of course, the main thing to love about this movie is Danny Trejo. He has some truly funny lines and steals every scene he is in. Again, it is just such a damn shame he plays second banana to Jessica freaking Alba.
In the end, I’m not sure how to really feel about this movie. I had a fun time with it. It was a great movie to watch with the guys. That being said, it feels like half a great movie, half a crappy one. If I were to buy this movie, I think I would have my thumb glued on the fast forward button to skip past every worthless scene by Alba, Lohan, and DeNiro. Of course that would have me skipping a lot, and I don’t think a great movie should have me skipping through so much crap. So while I do recommend it, I think Rodriguez dropped the ball big time. He turned a great movie into a slightly good one.