Newest Reviews:

New Movies -  

The Tunnel


The Tall Man

Mama Africa





Brownian Movement

Last Ride

[Rec]³: Genesis

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Indie Game: The Movie

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Old Movies -

Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena

Drums Along the Mohawk

The Chase

The Heiress

Show People

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry



Miracle Mile

The Great Flamarion

Dark Habits

Archives -

Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012

All reviews alphabetically

All reviews by star rating

All reviews by release year


Screening Log



E-mail me



Machete (Robert Rodriguez | Ethan Maniquis, 2010)

Robert Rodriguez, who first gained fame as a director with El Mariachi, a story about a man near the Mexican border who is mistaken for a killer and pursued by a drug lord’s minions, returns to familiar territory in Machete, his latest work. Starring character actor Danny Trejo in what is likely his first title role, Machete presents a nonstop parade of over-the-top action, extreme violence, and gratuitous nudity. While the film offers the story of a former Federale who is made to look like the attempted assassin of a right-wing politician, it is in reality more of an excuse for Rodriguez to trot out a series of off-kilter characters who satirize a variety of Tex-Mex archetypes. If the plot, which involves a conspiracy to erect an electrified fence along Texas’ southern border, seems timely, that coincidence probably speaks more strongly about the absurdity of the real-life immigration debate than the strength of the subtext in Machete’s preposterous universe.


For its first hour, Machete really gives hope that the concept, which started as a three minute trailer that was part of the 2007 double-feature Grindhouse, could be sustained for an entire feature film. Too many expository scenes, which introduce a cast that is probably too big by half, recycle the same hoary plot, however. While this verbosity may be the stuff of the B-movies that inspired Machete, there is too much of it for the homage to be construed as anything other than a liability. As Machete heads into its second hour, the bloat begins to drain the sense of fun, until the film climaxes with an extended action scene that offers next to none of the intended excitement.


If Machete peaks early, then, it must be acknowledged that it does reach peaks. Among the film’s highlights are some gross body humor (such a cell phone retrieved from a vagina and an intestine-enabled escape plan), some canny casting (Jessica Alba and Robert DeNiro, in particular, are used to better effect than either has managed in some time), and Trejo’s grim deadpan (“Machete don’t text.”). Though the film is designed so one can’t discern Rodriguez’s slips from his homages, the unevenness does eventually begin to grow tiresome. Still, if Rodriguez’s true aspiration was to pay homage to a group of B-movies that have been largely forgotten with a modern day action flick that itself will end up largely forgotten, he has likely succeeded.



Jeremy Heilman