REVIEW: Machete

Machete… where do I even start?

Machete literally started out as a joke, and in a lot of ways it still is. It was initially nothing more than a fake trailer that was shown at the beginning of the 2007 throwback to B-movie exploitation films Grindhouse. Apparently, Robert Rodriguez liked the idea a little too much to let it go, and so now that fake trailer has been expanded into a full-length movie.

Machete is an… interesting film. If you saw the trailers (which I did) or if you saw Grindhouse (which I didn’t) then you likely know full well what to expect: a horribly depraved, psychologically twisted, and all together awful movie.

I had a lot of fun.

Machete tells the story of an ex-federale, played by the ever-badass Danny Trejo, who has his family killed and himself left for dead by a Mexican druglord with a penchant for katanas played by none other than Steven Seagal. That’s right. Steven. Freaking. Seagal. If you didn’t know what kind of movie this was already, then you sure as hell do now.

This isn’t actually a promotional image. This is just how Steven Seagal
spends his time, all day every day

Assumed dead and abandoned by his superiors, Machete flees to the United States and works as a day laborer in lieu of brutally slicing and dicing criminals. But that changes when he is approached by a government man who offers him $150,000 to kill a Texas Senator, played by Robert De Niro.

Now, here is where I think the movie really lost me. Suddenly it shifts to a “oh no, let’s feel pity for the poor illegal immigrants while simultaneously despising and disparaging the evil conservative politicians and anyone who thinks like them” tone. And it keeps jumping back to this point over and over again, trying to establish its immigration message among the viewers in the most absurd ways. Seriously: this movie has more straw men than a Kansas cornfield. I went to see this movie so that I could see some ridiculous B-movie action scenes that I could get a good laugh out of, not listen to your politically-charged left-wing bull crap, Rodriguez.

I’m sorry for getting political here, as I really dislike politics of any kind: but this movie kinda forced it on me. It should have just stuck to its guns and kept making us laugh with its over-the-top displays of mindless violence that we would never get to see in a decent film. Instead, the movie adopts an incredibly obtuse and one-sided political message and tries to shove it down our throats: the illegal immigrants are the good guys, and anybody who wants to protect the border automatically assumes the role of the movie’s villain, getting to act as cannon fodder for the righteous warriors from Mexico. Even if you’re not of the same political bent as I am, this is still an incredibly dumb decision. It leaves the movie with a horribly disjointed sense of tone, and the audience feeling awkward and uncomfortable at its heavy-handed message. If we wanted to see this kind of stuff, we would have watched a Michael Moore movie… or stabbed ourselves in the eyes with dull knives, which would be just as preferable.

Oh look, he’s chopping stuff apart with the capital building in the background.
How poignant. 

But getting back on track… well, actually that’s darn near all I’ve got.

Machete is a movie that lets you laugh at how terrible it is. It is a parody, albeit a loving one, of the B-movie grindhouse flicks of years gone by. It’s a chance for the audience, the actors, and the filmmakers to let everything loose and come up with the most ridiculous, outlandish, so-bad-it’s-good stunts and events they can and just have fun with it. For a lot of us, it’s a chance to unwind. For Steven Seagal… well, it’s really just another movie.

This is not, I repeat, NOT a movie for everyone. Hell, it’s hardly a movie for anyone. If you are a parent and you are considering taking your children to see this movie I want you to stop. I want you to pick up the nearest heavy object you can find, and I want you to beat yourself in the face with it repeatedly. You should be ashamed. The amount of violence, drug use, and sexual content in this movie is overwhelming. If you were to put a poster of it in your front window, then you would never be bothered by Jehovah’s Witnesses again for they would flee in front of it like a vegetarian before my fridge. This is a movie for adults who can understand the satire here: no one else.

This is not advertising: this is Danny Trejo warning the unprepared
away from this movie.

Now personally, I’m able to get a good laugh out insane sequences like a motorcycle ramping into the air, backlit by a massive extraneous explosion as a minigun mounted to the front of it mows down absurd amounts of people. I’m able to chuckle when Jessica Alba stabs a man in a luchador mask with 6-inch heels. I can do this, because I know it’s all a joke. But it is a very sick joke. I cannot in good conscience recommend this movie to anyone who wishes to keep their moral fiber intact.

But if there’s anyone out there who wants to hearken back to the B-movies of yesteryear, enjoys the “so-bad-it’s good” presentation of movies, and who is capable of leaving their sense of dignity at the door, then maybe you’ll be able to get a good laugh or two out of Machete.

For everybody else… run. Take your children with you and don’t look back, lest this movie destroy you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s