Movie Review
Machete poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published September 7, 2010
I didn't laugh heavily but there was some chuckling. I wasn't wowed by the action, but it had its moments. The direction isn't kick-ass but it has thumbs-up rewards.
It's based on a trailer! But wasn't that like three years ago? Not exactly keeping it current, Rodriguez -- Why did it take that long? And what's taking the Sin City sequels so long? Hop to it, man! Isn't one of the problems here, right off the bat, that all movies are based on trailers nowadays? The trailer captures more hearts than the fleshed-out cinematic experience. And one could say that's the case for Machete, which squanders a lot of its goodwill on goofy stunts and poorly-timed comedic dialogue. It's almost as if Rodriguez doesn't quite trust himself to pull certain things off, and purposely injects badness as some form of self-sabotage. We know its a grindhouse picture going in; so it shouldn't need to resort to eye-rollingly lame moments to prove its point.

But as a non-apologetically bad movie, itís pretty decent. I wasn't fully satisfied after strolling from the theater, but I knew that there were enough surefire golden nuggets in there to push it through with a recommendation. First and foremost has to be its commentary on the Immigration/illegal Mexican issue. The timeliness on this issue has just gained that much more, even in a few scant years. This is what impressed me in the first passages of the movie. Now, the satire on this topic is certainly played up and cranked way over the top, but I was entertained by it, even while recognizing the un-subtlety of it.

Let's talk acting. This is actually where I think the movie shines, even if it doesn't shine completely fully like a 100% pure-extracted Blood/Conflict diamond mined and transported to safety by Djimon Hounsou. Superb though overall, definitely. Jeff Fahey gives an excellent turn at playing, basically, a big dickhead. He murders his friend just to please his boss, guns down the entire staff of a meth lab (quickly I might add), crucifies a priest, and even eats tacos while at the same time feeling ill will towards Mexicans! He's a true bastard of the wicked garden-variety. And he has a great voice which makes gravel seem like rose petals. In one of Fahey's scenes with DeNiro, I was looking at them both in a two-shot thinking "there are two great actors on the screen here, but the public only knows who one of them is." Great job Fahey, and kudos to Rodriguez for bringing him out of whatever career limbo he was in (starting with Planet Terror). Ok, I see that Jeff has been in a lot of TV recently, including Lost. But realize, people, that he's a solid film actor.

DeNiro is really good in this too. He steals the scenes he's in and you realize he's still that great actor. He doesn't have a ton of screen time but when he's there he puts the pedal to the metal. When he isn't allowed to coast by, he can still do some damage apparently. Jessica Alba is smart to use the gifts she has in her role. And no I'm not talking about her being butt-naked, bent over in the shower...albeit obscured. It's more like: even if you don't take her seriously, you get the sense that she unflappingly believes in herself, both the character and the actress. She has a bigger role in this flick and she shoulders it well. And Trejo is a pretty good actor who I wish were allowed to display more emotion. But that ain't in the cards baby! Ok enough about the acting; no Oscars will be awarded.

So why should you see this flick? Because I myself did not get bored. I didn't laugh heavily but there was some chuckling. I wasn't wowed by the action, but it had its rewards. The acting was often cheeseball but there are some gripping performers. The direction isn't kick-ass but it has thumbs-up moments. Midnights are better too...this isn't something to see during the day.
Scott's Grade: B-
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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