‘Machete’ is about as sharp as a butterknife

Machete! At long last, the parody movie clip from “Grindhouse” had come out on the big screen. I, like a lot of others, wanted to see that clip actually made into a movie, because it just looked like kick-ass fun. Long-time and familiar faced extra Danny Trejo in a starring role? Bonus!

I rolled into the theater early, figuring a lot of people who were off from work for the holiday and high school kids would be packing the seats. But as the movie started, there were only about 8 other people in the theater with me. Hmmmm. Did they know something that I didn’t?

Well, the movie starts off with a bang. We find Machete is a federale, going to save a girl from a drug kingpin. He’s a straight-ahead, fearless guy who carries around a big machete, and prefers it over a gun. (During this particular scene, I had a flash to Brock Sampson from the “Venture Brothers” — the violence is that over the top.) He’s extremely deadly with his machete, effortlessly lopping off heads and limbs and faces alike. Now, the violence is pretty graphic — and also pretty comical — and I found myself thinking that I was really going to love this flick. It’s revealed early on that Steven Segal is the bad guy, which somehow makes things even more comical. Awesome!

Next we come across a group like the Minutemen patrolling the Texan border with Mexico. They attack the Mexicans, and their leader, played by Don Johnson, ruthlessly shoots and kills a pregnant woman. Not only is he a scumbag, but we find that a Senator with them, played by Robert DeNiro, also takes great delight in killing the immigrants as they cross the border — saying “Welcome to America” before gunning a man down.

Later, we find that Machete is in Texas, trying to make a living as a day laborer. He is picked up a well dressed man in a BMW, who has a different proposal: He wants Machete to kill the Senator, and he’ll pay him $150,000 to do it. Machete reluctantly agrees, and gives the cash to a woman, played by Michelle Rodriguez, who runs a group called “The Network” to help illegals find work and establish a life in the U.S.

Well, as you could guess, there’s a double-cross, and Machete is framed for attempting to kill the Senator. But, it goes deeper than just a simple framing … and various plot twists emerge left and right and blah blah blah … honestly, it’s long, uninteresting and tedious to watch unfold.

See, the problem here is that the movie leaves its campy roots and tries to make a statement about the whole illegal immigration issue. And it’s not done in a funny, goofy way like in “Blacksploitation” flicks. It’s flat, and I found myself reaching for the remote control so I could fast forward through all the crap to get to the fun. But, alas, it wasn’t there, nor was any great, campy dialogue … so I was stuck waiting for the crap to pass.

But then, near the end of the movie, the camp seemed to make its way back. Chollas shooting submachine guns, Mexicans attacking the bad guys with shovels and gardening tools … it was all laughably awesome. However, by that time, it felt entirely too late and it was like 2 different movies had been spliced into one.

The campy, graphic violence is awesome. But the story that we have to endure to get to those parts isn’t well done at all. If the dialogue, story and filmmaking had been a little more campy, this would have been a great, fun flick. But instead, we seem to get a mix-mash of ideas and styles that don’t actually blend well together.

I don’t know … it’s hard to classify this flick. I’d have to say this is either a matinee flick or a Netflix choice, but undoubtedly, it will strike a cord with some folks who will think it’s the most awesome thing since sliced bread. I think I’m gonna have to declare this one a “pick” — it’s not awful, it’s not great; but if you enjoy Robert Rodriguez movies, chances are you’ll love it. For me, it landed squarely in the “meh” category.

2.5 out of 5


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