|This "Machete" could be sharper|
Now, three years later, some great manor of cosmic improbability storm has settled and we have been given an honest to God, full feature "Machete", headlining Rodriguez-faithful Danny Trejo.
Trejo stars as the taciturn killer and ex-Federale, Machete, who has been in asylum in the United States after the murder of his wife.
The mysterious Michael Booth—Jeff Fahey—then hires Machete to assassinate Senator John McLaughlin—Robert De Niro—who has based his reelection campaign on a staunch anti-immigrant platform.
After being betrayed by Booth and framed with the attempted murder of the senator, Machete begins a swath of destruction, culminating in a revolution of Mexican immigrants.
"Machete" is a film that revels in its violence with many kills relieving their victims of body parts, including a healthy amount of decapitated heads.
But many of these more entertaining action scenes occupy the first half of the film with the final battle seeming tame in comparison.
Similarly, the back half of the film feels far less focused than the first, as the plot feels artificially lengthened by the inclusion of a multitude of extraneous characters.
These characters do, however, serve to give the film a much-needed sense of humor vacant in the stone-faced protagonist, the most memorable of which are Padre—Cheech Marin—and April Booth—Lindsey Lohan.
Marin fills the character with mild caricature of himself while Lohan manages to redeem her self-destructive career through the character of April, who seems to be a parody of Lohan herself.
Michelle Rodriguez gives her best performance to date as Luz, a taco truck owner who runs an advanced coyote network to help fellow Mexicans cross the boarder.
"Machete" pulls no punches with its topic of illegal immigration, hammering on the conservative view of illegals as parasites leaching off of American society.
But the film does little to comment on this issue of our time than transform it into a blatant melodrama between the noble immigrants and a renegade border militia headed by Lt. Stillman—Don Johnson.
Maybe asking for a deeper commentary on the issue from a film that has been described as "Mexploitation" is a little much, but I could not help being somewhat disappointed by Rodriguez passing up a chance to say something truly meaningful.
"Machete" is a fun ride for any fan of Rodriguez and evokes a style of cinema that has largely disappeared from theaters, but its slow second half and failure to attain a deeper meaning holds it back from being truly great.This review was originally published in the Indiana Statesman.
In case you were wondering, Danny Trejo is DEFINITELY the wrong Mexican to fuck with.
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