On paper this movie has everything;
It’s from Robert Rodriguez
It’s in the same vein as Planet Terror
It’s stupid, and incredibly tongue-in-cheek.
It’s very violent.
I should like it. And I did, for about the first 20 minutes. Then the same thing happens for the next 80. The movie basically plays out like this calm, violence, calm, violence, calm, violence, calm, violence, and then ends with one of the worst action set pieces ever. I wasn’t expecting high art, but the whole thing is just dull.
Danny Trejo, great in other things as a bit player, cannot hold an entire movie. He literally has one facial expression (pissed off), and shows no emotion at all. It’s hard to care about why he’s doing what he’s doing. In the action scenes he’s pretty great, you can believe he’s an ex Federale, but not much else
Steven Segal plays the bad guy and seeing him act, it’s no wonder he’s relegated to DTV movie these days. He’s awful. And he also only has one facial expression. His and Machete’s fight near the end (the climactic one of the movie) is laughably bad. It’s going for funny with the denouement, but ends up just looking stupid.
The plot is also a mess. What should have been a straight forward revenge movie (like Taken, for example) goes all political on us, trying to shoehorn in a tolerance lesson about immigrants coming to America. Frankly it’s boring, they should have just had Machete going after Segal because earlier in the movie SPOILER he kills Machete’s wife. You think that would be motive alone, but instead Machete wants to help fight the good fight and it just so happens that Segal is behind that. So with all this immigration stuff that appears, an immigration agent is introduced, and she’s played by Jessica Alba. Not convincing, and just there to up the attractive lady quotient which is prevalent in this sort of down and dirty 70’s revenge movie vibe Machete is going for. She’s terrible though.
In fact the only people in this movie who aren’t plain awful are Michelle Rodriguez and Jeff Fahey. Fahey plays creepy and menacing really well; he makes you wish that he were the main threat for the whole thing instead just a lackey to De Niro’s (!?) racist senator. And Michelle Rodriguez, once again, plays the hard as nails chick, but she does it so well I can’t fault her really. She’s the only one that fills her role with conviction.
Oh, Cheech Marin’s great too actually.
And the less said about Lohan and her excuse for a ‘character arc’ the better.
But you don’t watch this movie for the characters, you watch for the violence. However, after the first action scene, they all become kind of samey and boring. Its cool seeing Machete cut through guys with…um, a machete, and yes, using one poor guy’s intestines as a rope is funny. But mostly the action scenes bore you, when they’re more or less the same each time. And the final battle between the Mexicans and the Rednecks looks like it’s going to be a huge fight, but ends up as the worst group fight scene I’ve ever seen.
Overall it’s a movie that doesn’t know whether it should be serious or flat out stupid. Unfortunately it tries to be both at the same time and ends up failing miserably.
It really should have just stayed the fake trailer.
At least that was fun.