Some movies are slow. They draw you in with nuances of character development and meditative contemplation of the human condition. “Machete” is not one of those movies. Rather, it’s about speed. Robert Rodriguez’s latest delivers non-stop for your movie-going bucks. This is one thing you want to catch in theaters before you add the DVD to your permanent collection.
The film works so well because, well, it’s all a big joke. 2007’s “Grindhouse” collaboration between Tarantino and Rodriguez brought the B-film genre back into the public spotlight, so it’s no surprise that an idea from a parody trailer within that double feature grew into its own picture. Viewers love the violence; execs love that you can make these movies for $20 with a Super-8 camera and Jessica Alba.
“Machete” has a star-studded, talented cast, an attention to campy detail and beautiful, saturated, colorful cinematography that make it a joy to watch. Sure, there are plot holes and tons of technical goofs, but who cares? They’re just as much a part of the film as the actors. If we didn’t see a boom in every shot, it wouldn’t be grind house.
The casting of the movie is downright brilliant. Are you disappointed with the current male faces of Hollywood? Do you feel that they’re too soft? Too concerned with their skin? Too feminine? Danny Trejo is none of these. His face has the topography of the Rocky Mountains and his eyes are just as cold as the beverages brewed there. (They even turn blue when he’s about to get cold as ice.) His character isn’t deep. It doesn’t need to be.
“Machete” does not fall short on the sexy. Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez and several others all make this movie a great piece of film to watch. Within the film’s first five minutes, there’s full frontal nudity and it only gets better from there. Here’s a spoiler alert: Jessica Alba has lost all her baby weight.
The real stars of the movie are the supporting actors who, I can’t help but imagine, begged Rodriguez to tweak their roles to perfectly suit them. Cheech Marin, who appeared in the fake (but somehow so real) trailer appears as “Machete”’s brother and father, in the priestly sense of the word. Robert De Niro and Steven Seagal both play villains: De Niro, a racist U.S. state senator, and Seagal, the baddest man in all of Mexico. It’s refreshing to see actors, especially Seagal, break out of their established filmic personas. Lindsay Lohan does so, too but in an interesting way. Instead of the sweet innocent we saw in say, “Freaky Friday”, we have the raunchy, drug addicted LiLo that we know and love from TMZ.
The icing on the cake is that “Machete”, for all its flash, actually brings up some important current issues regarding the debate over immigration and border control. Rodriguez’s experience as a Mexican filmmaker who was able to cross over the border lends a personal aspect to this film.
Most of the commentary isn’t that deep, nothing you as a college student shouldn’t be familiar with, but the average movie-goer should hopefully leave the theater pleased not only by the spectacle they’ve seen on screen but also with a deeper knowledge of the issues behind the issue of immigration. In the weekend where the box office was dominated by “The American”, “Machete” had me wishing I was Mexican.