|Image from http://screenrant.com/|
The film starts off promising. The grimy feel of a grindhouse flick balanced out the beginning sequence perfectly: the characters took their quests, and themselves, seriously, even though they were locked into a hyper-realistic world. The comedy was subtle--reflected in the too-perfect delivery of their lines and the unstoppable kickassitry that dug its claws into the character of Machete (played by the forever underrated Danny Trejo).
As it progressed, however, the comedy became more obvious, less subtle. Machete at times felt like an anachronism: the dirty 70s hero surrounded by modern equipment and a modern brand of humor. To his credit, Rodriguez occasionally acknowledged the discrepancy, such as a scene in which Machete is chastised for neglecting to use his cellphone and claims: "Machete don't text". Younger characters, such as the two "Mexican" punks from Luz's (Michelle Rodriguez) crew who look a little whishy-washy standing next to the hulk of Machete, also worked to point out this gap and add a color of humor to it.
|Movie poster from Flickr|
However, it's hard to chastise a movie which constantly pleads for it's audience to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fucking ride. Rodriguez's black humor knocks a couple viewers' jaws open when he finds more than interesting ways to turn kitchen appliances, lawn machines, and human body parts into weapons. The excessive gore goes hand in hand with the excessive sex, which incites a chord of 70s-style porn music every time Machete gets it on and yet somehow only seems to get funnier as the movie progresses.
The best part of the movie, hands down, was the performances of the actors. Michelle Rodriguez sold with her take-no-prisoners attitude, and the intimate close ups of her killer body were definitely one of the more lingering memories of the movie. My only problem with her character was there was not enough of her, especially towards the end in which her badassitry could've been pushed even further and really given a chance to shine. Any excuse for Michelle Rodriguez to continue to strut around half naked with an eye patch and a machine gun. Jeff Fahey, yet another Lost actor aboard the movie, was everything a Rodriguez-style bad guy needed to be--down to the exaggerated deep growl of his voice. He embodied the character of a sadistic, backstabbing, yet often cowardly villain, igniting the scene during his moment in the church with Cheech Marin. Cheech Marin--yet another underrated actor--played Machete's brother and the slightly wayward priest. It was easy to fall in love with his character as his comedic timing sold every line. Robert De Niro played an excellent senator who deep down really just wanted to be a cowboy (gee, I wonder who he was playing off of!). Someone to look out for: Shea Whigham ran an excellent bad guy as Jeff Fahey's right hand man, with a badassitry that almost was on par with Pike from the A Team. Like Michelle Rodriguez, my only problem with his character was that he didn't seem to stick around long enough.
Steven Seagal was, in the end, Steven Seagal, which is not a bad thing to be. Lindsay Lohan, however, was also simply Lindsay Lohan, and while her chemistry worked well with Jeff Fahey, it was still slightly jarring to see the teen pop actress trying to hold her own (credit where credit's due--Lindsay Lohan could have been much worse, she certainly was no Hannah Montana). Last and probably least, Jesssica Alba played a lukewarm performance--while her character was fun as a materialistic, thickskulled, hardheaded woman in the beginning, her transformation during the movie felt somewhat implausible.
Lastly, while I've said the movie should not, under any circumstances, be taken seriously, I think that it had a great message about the "problem" of immigration that America faces today. Point being: don't fuck with the Mexicans. They are humans too, they deserve to be in this country just as much (if not more than) anyone else, and they have Machete on their side. End of lesson.
Things to remember while going to see this movie: it doesn't want you to take it seriously. It doesn't need your political correctness. All it wants is for you to have a dirty, gory, grimy fun time. Enjoy.