Let’s Talk About Movies: Machete

Machete is a movie full of surprises. Robert Rodriguez weaves together a movie that is surprisingly deep and funny. And, most shocking of all, by the end of the film, Lindsey Lohan finds God.The story follows Machete (Danny Trejo), a Mexican Federale whose wife is murdered by Torrez (Steven Seagal). After the slaying of his family, Machete illegally entered the United States, working as a day laborer. Following a chance meeting with Booth (Jeff Fahey), Texas state senator McLaughlin’s (Robert de Niro) aide and an apparently failed assassination attempt of McLaughlin, Machete finds himself on the run from the American legal system and drug lords he thought he left behind in Mexico.

The earliest and most dominant theme of Machete is the role of illegal immigrants in the United States. Although Rodriguez’ message is heavy-handed at times, he makes a clear statement about the controversy surrounding illegal immigrants, fringe American reactions and a border fence.

Another positive piece of the movie was the humor. While often relying on very dark-natured jokes, the movie does successfully employ some light-hearted moments of humor for example, Lohan, dressed as a nun, blowing away guys with a revolver. Seriously, I’m not making that up. In sequences like Lohan’s, we see Rodriguez strike a distinct balance in the movie. He balanced the message of Machete without letting the movie take itself too seriously.

And, by doing so, Rodriguez allows the message to hit home harder because he never crosses a line and becomes preachy.

On the whole, the cast did well and played their parts convincingly with many of the casting selections aiding the overall humor of the film by allowing the stigmas of the actors to bleed into the characters. Lohan played the drugged up, spoiled daughter of Booth, a stretch for her, I’m sure. In addition, Cheech Marin made jokes about pot despite his role as a Catholic priest. But, none hold a candle to the force of nature that was Seagal, playing a Mexican drug lord who knows some martial arts and wields a katana.

The acting was solid, but at times was too overly dramatic, and some actors, mostly lesser ones, delivered some of their lines awkwardly. However, these occasions were by no means the norm.

The action was excitingly over-the-top and utterly ridiculous throughout the movie. This is Robert Rodriguez, so what can you expect? Packing enough flying limbs and heads, some of the sequences in Machete would make hardened fans of 300 and Kill Bill blush.

Add in a good dose of sexuality and this movie earns it’s R rating in spades. But, again, what would you expect from Rodriguez?

The production style is quintessential Rodriguez, dirty and gritty.

I have to say I was surprised by this movie I ended really enjoying myself. The social commentary isn’t going to win any awards but it’s nice to see action movies adding some depth. It’s not a movie for everyone, definitely, but with the other options at the box office, it’s worth a look..

Rating: R

Final Grade: B

Also in theaters this week:

Going the Distance – This movie has some high points but lacks the on-screen chemistry needed for a successful romantic comedy. Grade: C
The American – A solid story and great visuals can’t overcome a laskluster performance by George Clooney in a movie that should have been Oscar bait. Grade: C+
Takers – T.I. should have asked for a few more days in the clink to avoid being part of this flick, which I will generously call subpar. Grade: D