"They just fucked with the wrong Mexican!"
Having veered away from box office reviews for the past week or so I felt safe and eager to see Robert Rodriguez's latest slaughterfest, Machete, with the anticipation of over-the-top violence and gratuitous nudity that awaited me. What I experienced instead was a film that seemed willingly to sell its sizzle without offering the viewer any steak, only half-fulfilling either of its lauded incentives. Perhaps that's what happens when you try to make a moral-deprived exploitation film with actors who actually have morals.
To be fair Rodriguez has a steady stream of solid films under his belt and perhaps part of the blame could be that he only co-directed this film with former editor (and first time director) Ethan Maniquis, but I feel that my expectations weren't too lofty. Given that Rodriguez's El Mariachi trilogy dabbled in the same cultural memes, I had anticipated Machete to fall somewhere between there and Planet Terror in terms of tone and stylization.
"Whadda' mean I don't get any sex scenes?! I'm the f*cking hero!"
Opening with an intense sequence *SPOILER WARNING* that featured Danny Trejo unleashing "the whoop-ass" on a horde of gangsters with his trademark weapon of choice (hint: it's a machete), a fully nude Latina seductress "un-holstering" a cellphone from her vagina, and Steven Seagal slicing Trejo's wife in half, Machete seemed as though it would deliver the goods. Unfortunately, this is the height of the film's over-the-top depravity despite a disembowelment bungee jump, an emphasis on racial profiling and perhaps biggest letdown... Lindsay Lohan.
That last one may sound a little out of place in context to my other gripes, but considering how much controversy Lohan attracts I would have thought that doing her own nude scenes would be par for the course. Alas, we're treated to what I can only believe to be a "boobie-double" (notice we never see the actresses face in the pool scene) when it comes time for Lohan to bear all, only appearing on screen sans clothing with her hair carefully strewn across her naughty bits. Lame. Likewise, neither Jessica Alba or Michelle Rodriguez, the film's two femme fatales bring the goods with exception to a nude-but-not-really-nude shower scene with Alba. Lame.
Watch out, this chick's packing... and I don't mean that AR-15 either.
Perhaps I'm being a little harsh on Machete, but after seeing Piranha 3D in all it's unflinching glory I honestly expected this film to be on the same level and it just wasn't. As threatening a presence as Seagal is made out to be, he only appears at the very beginning and very end of the film, the latter of which is a remarkably short and shamefully anti-climatic scene. Even guest appearances by funny-man Cheech Marin and special effects guru Tom Savini are under-played and inexplicably lacking exposition. The funny thing? Apparently audiences ate it up with a 73% freshness rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a whopping 75% of viewers voting that they liked it.
On the bright side, if there ever was a sequel, cartoonist Brian McLachlan has set the stage for an exciting premise: Machete vs Jason Vorhees (see below)! Who wields the weapon better? You decide!