Machete (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/11/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Disappointing, frequently boring and weirdly humourless thriller that fails to deliver on the promise of the trailer, refuses to let Trejo do anything interesting and ultimately gets bogged down with too many characters and an overly complicated plot.

What's it all about?
Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and his editor Ethan Maniquis, Machete is based on the hilarious spoof trailer that Rodriguez did for Grindhouse (it screened with Planet Terror in the UK). Danny Trejo stars as a disgraced former Federale, who accepts $150,000 from sleazy businessman Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) in return for assassinating Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro), a fierce campaigner against illegal immigration.

However, Machete is swiftly double-crossed and soon uncovers a conspiracy between McLaughlin, Booth and his nemesis, portly drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal). However, help is at hand in the form of foxy immigration officer Sartana (Jessica Alba), feisty taco-truck-worker-slash-illegal-alien-network-organiser Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) and Machete's brother, gun-toting priest Padre (Cheech Marin).

The Good
If you've seen the original Grindhouse trailer, then you've already seen all the best parts of Machete, apart from a great bit where he uses someone's freshly liberated intestines as a rope in order to jump out of one window and swing back into another one (and even that is in the extended official trailer). The only other highlights are Rodriguez as Luz, Don Johnson as a border patrolling vigilante and Lindsay Lohan as a gun-toting nun, whose only purpose in the film is to provide an iconic shot for the posters.

The Bad
The main problem is that it rather seems as if Rodriguez didn't get his own joke. As a result, the audience is primed for a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top, kick-ass exploitation flick and what they get instead is a litany of disappointments: the script gets bogged down in its (admittedly to the point) political message-making, there are frequent boring stretches and while it's a treat to see Trejo finally get the lead role he deserves, he's also weirdly underwritten and kept offscreen for long periods of time.

On top of that, the actors don't seem to know if they're meant to be playing it straight or hamming it up and the climactic fight between Trejo and Seagal fizzles like a faulty firecracker. Basically, if you came to see Trejo carving Seagal into tiny chunks with a machete, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Worth seeing?
Machete is, regrettably, something of a disappointment. Watch the Grindhouse trailer again instead.

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Machete (18)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 00:03

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