action movie freak    
Machete movie poster

"Robert Rodriguez's MACHETE "

(3 Sept 2010)

Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez

So much good and bad in one action movie. I loved it and  hated it. Let's start with:

The GOOD for Action Movie Freaks
Machete's ruthless knife work, makeshift weapons, and love of the blade
The number of machetes in the movie and how often it was used
The triple beheading
The high-velocity blood splatter
The machete through the squad car seat (seen that before . . .)
The machete through the front door into the mouth and out the back of the head (seen that too)
Seeing the guy still stuck there on the front porch later (still laughed)  
Some of the quotes "It's not safe for you to be here." "I'm not looking for safe."
"Jefe . . . " "This is the boss." (hold up his machete)
The payoff on things like 60 ft. of intestines and the corkscrew
Lowrider from Machete with missle laucher on the hoodThe missile launcher on the hood of a car
The fun they had with stereotypes, like:
- The street vendor with his little food cart at the back of the army of Mexicans in the final showdown
- The Mexicans-as-yard-workers jokes with Moron # 1 and Moron #2
- And later when Moron #3 and Moron #4 joined them:
      "I don't want to hear that story ever again." (LOL seriously awesome delivery of that line)
- The fact that they had not only the Action Movie standard Morons 1 and 2, but also 3 and 4!
- Use of the Vicente Fernandez Llorar y Llorar song "El Rey"

- The cars! Aaah the hydraulics, lowriders, the artwork, the chop shop, etc.
- The use of lawn tools as weapons, nail gun, shovel, weed wacker
- Machete 'fighting' (ducking) while eating a taco
- All the Mexican jokes to the point where I wondered if Mexicans were offended
     (Maybe I should ask George Lopez! Anyone laughing besides me?)
They brought the Planet Terror shot (below) and the motorcyle/tommy gun/explosion shots to life
   I loved how the ending was silent. Just the power of the blade held up. That was perfect!

The vistory scene in Machete with machetes raised

The GOOD For Guys
A movie with that many beautiful women is sure to be a hit. Heterosexual men aren't going to complain, so why am I, as a woman?  So many reasons. Here goes . . .

The nurses. This movie will doubtless create lots of Halloween costumes for stupid girls who want to dress that way. Yet, I loved the nurses. I loved their grab-a-gun-and-start shooting spirit. Why couldn't they be dressed a little less like objects? So that no guy fantasy stereotype goes unmissed here. (THERE IS A MARKET for Action Movies with physically strong women, and not just all bimbos all the time, that's not being produced. Sure hope I get to prove that. But these moviemakers are not interested that, so back to the chick parade . . . )

The pretty little 5' 2" Mayra Leal "Chica (Naked Girl)" giving it all away at the beginning of the movie. (Let her wonder later why in real life no one wants to marry her. Her and poor poor Kim Kardashian. Hope this is not a trend like in the horror movie My Bloody Valentine 3D and maybe others I didn't see—so unfair with no reciprocal gratuitous male nudity. Keeping women down. Feminist pulpit here but . . . you know the rest.) They shoot her 7 minutes later.  Just another brazenly naked slut (she refuses to put clothes on) who cuts the guy who risked his life and got his partner killed trying to rescue her. Before getting shot, she phones in that she has taken down Machete. With some pretty loud sound effects, she reaches in and pulls a cell phone out of her vagina. Wonder why they didn't just have it dripping with something that resembles Alien goo or make a fish joke? Think that would have been too much? How do they tell? It would seem more misogynistic if it wasn't so true to life (Paris Hilton and her hiding place for cocaine). Girl Gone Wild deserves what she gets? That's sad. They end up shooting the undeserving (of being rescued) bitch, still naked. Nice mixed messages. What was the point? Oh yeah, to lure a hero cop to rescue a girl nobody else cares about, and to use the line "If not us, then who?" (will rescue her) so we could hear the line again at the end of the movie because all really good movies start and end at the same place, and this is a really good movie, right? Not.

Michelle Rodriguez shows her credentials to Jessica Alba in MacheteScrawny Women. I feel the same way about scrawny men (
Anti-Scrawny rant ) and I don't mind weak beautiful women in Action Movies (it's expected since it's a man's game), but not these kind of women in leading action roles (written about that before too: Seeing Red Over Sonja). The scene where Jessica Alba talks to Michelle Rodriguez and they exchange cop/suspect banter was just weird. (I kept picturing how different the dialogue would have sounded and the scene would have been with two men.) I expected one of these two to suddenly blurt out "Oh my God you're such a bitch!" or "I love your hair!" But I know, it's all about the fantasy for guys.

Michelle Rodriguez's role is a bit of a saint with an attitude. She often looks like she just smelled something really stink—you, and can't wait to be somewhere else. She's cornered the market on disdain. She seems to be in roles where she's always in a bad mood, so when she's normal or nice it seems like it's temporary and the bitch will be out any second now. If she was half as bad ass as she seems to think she is . . . (What? I could take her.)  I've been a big fan since Blue Crush, but she still seems too slight to handle that enormous gun at the end. She makes a good show of being tough, though, as usual.

The outfits were, let's say 'fantasy based' (translation: ridiculous): Michelle's black leather bra; Jessica Alba's shoes (all of them); but REALLY?—that police bimbette get up at the end when she was driving a cop car?! So "Mrs. Officer". Make her a cop but she can't have any real power. But nobody cares about that cause she had a steamy naked shower scene, and she did a little fighting. Plus, she's Jessica Alba.
Yeah, yeah.

Lindsay Lohan. I guess a nice pair of breasts will take you a long way in a man's world, but Lindsay Lohan is such a skank. At what point is a woman too drugged out and used up to counteract a nice body and a decent face? Men will fuck anything. It seemed to me like she was high in all scenes not just the scenes where she was supposed to be acting like she was high. How sad for her that this role mirrors her real life. It had the same feel as when Woody Allen used celebrities to make fun of themselves in Celebrity. Why would you take that role? If only the audience thought the Directors were as clever as they thought they were. (Lindsay's got everything in the world, what's she self medicating to get away from? Probably her father abused her. How sad would that be, and then how sad and creepy and not funny is it that they try to make the character of her father, Booth, desire her? "I ♥ April" is his password). Machete is a stud with the women throwing themselves at him. He finds himself (happy coincidence: on camera) naked in a swimming pool and kissing (assumed having sex) with April and her mother (Booth, the guy who set him up's daughter and wife). A guy's ultimate revenge fantasy. This also seemed so much like a comment on Lindsay and her real life mother (the apple not falling far from the tree). And she was okay with all that?

Shooting from the hip:
This film comes across as a little too artistically self-indulgent and trying too hard to be cool. Why do I say that? Everything FOR GUYS above and, here goes:

"Robert Rodriguez's Machete"  (There were 2 directors. . . )

The literal and figurative shots at religion

They crossed too many lines for me in the name of "art" and not to good effect, and they copied shamelessly.

Stanley Kubrik
is giving a thumbs down from above on the use of "Ave Maria" when they were shooting up the church. It really didn't have the impact that Clockwork Orange did using the juxtaposition of benign music to evoke shock that violence and sex are like nothing to the thugs in Kubrick's masterpiece. You can't do that again and not have it look like copying. Were we supposed to be shocked that they would show assassins shooting up a church and a priest with shotguns fighting back to music we normally think of as being sung in an angelic little boy's voice?

"God has mercy. I don't."
Rambo III used that line ("God would have mercy, he won't") to way better effect by having it be said about someone, not by someone, and a priest, at that. 

Blasphemy or Art?
All the religious things must have been off-the-charts offensive to Catholics. Seeing them shoot up a church, having a priest (in clerical clothing) committing murder inside the church (and he was videotaping confessions), crucifying the priest inside the church, making a crack about the "blood of Christ" when drinking the wine? "Your own personal Jesus." What was the point in the movie if not just for sensationalism? Kubrick used the music to show us what the characters were doing meant nothing to them. In Machete, are we supposed to think that the racist politician and his henchmen have so much hatred for immigrants that they hate Catholicism too or that they just have no respect for a church? And then is this supposed to make us want to see them dead because they did these outrageous things? That all this is not even surprising to me just shows how desensitized we have become. It was more like, oh he did not go there! What is surprising is that the movie makers would use this just to try to get a reaction, or think they're taking artistic license.  Reminds me of
Piss Christ. Shock us for a worthwhile point but be original. Objectionable does not equal outrageous does not equal good cinema.

Lindsay Lohan dressed as a nun licking a gun in MacheteThey put Lindsay Lohan in a nun's habit.  Really? I'd be hard pressed to come up with something that makes more of a TOTAL mockery of religion. Maybe it's this licking the gun image. Maybe it's when she delivers the line "In the name of my father" when she shoots Robert De Niro. She's so amused by this she smirks a little. Couldn't she stay in character? They had fun with it and probably at her expense, not that it bothered either of them. I don't know who was more pleased with themselves, her or the filmmakers. That shouldn't show.

The Plot
Torres (Steven Seagal) is a drug lord who wants to drive up prices by reducing the supply of drugs and therefore increasing the demand, so he wants to close the border by building a wall so he can control the flow of drugs through it at various points. (They're his drugs, can't he just set the price he wants and sell less to the same effect? But then how would they work in the wall?)

Getting the plan to build the wall approved by hate mongering to racists is redneck Senator McLaughlin (De Niro) and his henchmen Booth (Jeff Fahey) and Lt. Von Jackson (Don Johnson). Their sole purpose is to make us hate corrupt politicians, their cronies, and border patrols.

Machete hates Torres because Torres tried to buy Machete when he was a Federale, but Machete wouldn't be bought so Torres killed his wife to control him. Then we cut to Machete as a day laborer with no money who can't pay for his own lunch. What did the police force do? Kick him off? I must have missed something there. 

The above-the-line opening scene sets up Machete as the Super Cop who seeks revenge because they killed his wife and daughter? I don't know what happened to his daughter. They seemed to leave it as if he had to do what the Drug Lord wanted or what happened to his wife (beheading) would happen to his daughter. The daughter was never mentioned again and I kept thinking Michelle Rodriguez would turn out to be his daughter, until they implied they had sex, and then I thought maybe it's going to turn out to be Jessica Alba, until the end when they became a couple and kissed and rode off into the sunset together. Again, what'd I miss?

Booth cooks up a plan to set up Machete for attempting to assassinate the Senator so people will hate 'the Mexican' who tried to kill the Senator. But the plan is the Senator will only be wounded thereby garnering support for the Senator's platform of hate and building the wall.  Machete suspects it's a set up but is forced into it, and is nicked instead of killed by the real shooter (just before the real shooter takes a pot shot just to wound the Senator). Wounded, Machete gets away. "Luz" aka "Shé" is a Taco Truck owner who helps illegal Mexicans across the border. Shé and Machete are the people's champions against the corrupt and racist white men. Machete has a brother who is a priest, but who will kill for him and for the cause. Shé has weapons and a "network" of supporters, and underground army who is galvanized into action when they think Don Johnson has killed her. Truth is she is alive and has just lost an eye so we can have the black bikini top, eye-patch outfit. And why an eye patch is 'sexy' I don't even want to think about.

Apparently Machete isn't easy to kill, so Booth has a backup plan and hires an assassin. The assassin appeared way too long after they told you about him. Why the long gap? You almost forgot who he was and what he looked like. I can't even remember what happened to him, because apparently he doesn't go on his own jobs. He sent his henchmen to shoot up the church. I didn't realize he wasn't among the dead until they cut back to Booth, and he was with him.

Jessica Alba is the INS Agent (ICE) with a heart of gold who "does what is right" turning in the evidence of corruption to "Exactamundo" (har har) so the Senator is exposed and makes a run for it, which gets the people up in arms so they start a revolution. Wait, weren't they starting the revolution because of Shé getting shot? I can't remember. Alba's motivational speech at the end should have been in Spanish. The beginning was in Spanish. That it was in English made no sense (unless she doesn't speak Spanish).

Oh yeah, back to Michelle Rodriguez. Shé opens her secret hideaway warehouse with weapons and a bulletin board with the identities of all the illegals she has helped in plain view of the street where Jessica Alba can see her from her car.  So hard to find! Then she shows her everything. An INS agent. That's right. So when the border patrol shows up later, even though Shé says she is expecting a war, she's standing out front, door open, no weapon, alone, so Don Johnson can just walk up to her and shoot her point blank in the face. If she's that careless and stupid, how did she manage to do what she did as long as she did it?

The movie makes all the jokes about illegals and how we don't want them but they keep the economy going. Greg Giraldo made all these observations and better jokes.

Where's The BEEF?!?!?!
This is an action movie and the buffest guy was an extra in the 'redneck' crowd at the end of the movie but he looked really gay (sorry whoever you are—you might have been selling biceps in that brown wifebeater but you weren't selling "tough", and gay, no matter how buff, just ain't tough to heterosexual women). All we got was Danny Trejo. Even the young characters Frick and Frack (not their names) seemed gay. You know, the court reporter and the Jamie-Kennedy-Malibu's-Most-Wanted guy. (And what was with the extras? Was it just me or was it a strange looking assortment of people?)

I really like Danny Trejo, but he seemed uncomfortable in this role, even when kissing Jessica Alba, but I'm glad that someone would try to put him in a major role.

Steven Seagal helping Jessica Alba off the hood of a car in Machete Steven Seagal
Yes, I am holding using Steven Seagal against them. He's an action movie legend and I intend to keep liking him despite the crap I've heard about his personal life (unlike Mel Gibson who I am tired of). So for me they desecrated an Action Movie Legend (or let him desecrate himself. He's already done that in real life to no end). Where do I start? Steven Seagal had WAY too much fun with the word "puñeta". It got comical. And what was he wearing? A Dr. Evil-o jacket ("just make it brown")? Did Seagal talk Robert Rodriguez into letting him take a machete to the gut like nothing, and then just stand there cause he's too old and tired to fall down? He stood there talking for 10 minutes before he tried to out bad ass Machete by turning it into hara-kiri—Was that Seagal's idea or theirs? A bad one. Then he couldn't keel over from a kneeling position without putting an arm out to catch himself. It was sad. I thought he looked like he was going to have a heart attack any minute. I loved him right up until about the 8th time he said puñeta and then it just got ridiculous for me, and the sword fight was sad or they edited it very poorly (or worse very well). I so wanted to see the old Seagal kick some ass but when the finale came and it was Seagal vs. Trejo I was thinking . . . This is what action movies have come to? Between the aging cast of 
The Expendables and these two, makes you wonder what the younger men are doing? Trejo is still kicking ass at 66, Seagal is only 59. I just can't stand to see the once kick-ass Seagal like this (or in "Lawman"). Unless he has health issues, what's his excuse for not being in shape but still trying to be an action hero? Aikido?
Not much beefcake for us girls, but lots of pretty pretty bloody naked trash FOR GUYS. But that is what they were shooting for, so, kudos! This type of movie is so much the Pulp Fiction mode, both copying earlier material and aiming low, taking the juicy bits and magnifying them in reverential mockery. Where it used to be the bits I could ignore and still maybe enjoy a movie, with this sensationalist subgenre (Grindhouse) now it's all in my face. No, I don't like this type of action movie. It's for men only and has too many negative consequences in the real-life negative treatment of women. I'm sick and tired of seeing women allowing themselves to be objectified. When men start turning up sexually abused, naked, dead, and dumped somewhere in the record numbers that women are, maybe we'll finally have equality. No, wait, that won't happen until men are also naked and dead on film. It will happen. See how you like it then. Just a matter of time. Watch me do it. I don't wish I hadn't seen this movie. I enjoyed it as much as I could, but I doubt I would ever watch it again (because I have a brain).

(getting off the soapbox)

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The Rock better be damn good to make up for some of this flashy mierda.

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