Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'Machete' strives a nerve


Three stars

By Gary Buiso

“Machete” is a B movie of the highest order — an outlandish, sexy gorefest that takes a stab at social commentary — but is more comfortable in its tattooed skin when it’s cracking wise and having a blast.

Character actor Danny Trejo plays Machete, an ex-Mexican federal agent turned reluctant border revolutionary, an indelicate hero who’s got a face like a frying pan, the disposition of a chupacabra, and the passion of a hot stove. Men fear him, ladies love him — you know, that kind of thing.

The feature length film expands on the fake trailer director Robert Rodriguez made for 2007’s ode to exploitation “Grindhouse,” which he co-directed with Quentin Tarantino.

The film begins as Machete is betrayed by his own men, paid off by a samurai-sword wielding drug lord played by Steven Seagal, who slices off the head of our hero’s doe-eyed wife for good measure. Not a good move.

Years pass, and Machete is laying low as a day laborer in Texas — that is until he’s hired to assassinate a politician, Sen. McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), whose platform calls for building an electrified fence to keep immigrants out.

Things are not as they seem, and soon Machete teams up with — and beds — an INS agent (Jessica Alba), a revolutionary/taco truck owner (Michelle Rodriguez), and a spoiled rich kid/drug addict/nun (Lindsay Lohan).

Trejo, a real life ex-con who seems to appear in every movie ever made, is perfect for this role, delivering his lines in a gravely monotone and laying waste to bad guys in inventive ways, none more so than when he eviscerates a gent and cleverly uses the poor schlub’s large intestine as a means of egress.

It’s gruesome, but the film delivers the requisite amount of camp — Cheech Marin plays a pot-smoking priest, special effects legend Tom Savnini plays a hitman — and one-liners along the way, such as the instant-classic, “Machete don’t text.”

And “Machete” don’t disappoint.

“Machete.” Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity. 105 minutes. With Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan, Robert De Niro, Jeff Fahey and Tom Savini. Playing in Brooklyn at Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, Cobble Hill Cinemas, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown, Kent Theatre in Coney Island, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, and Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.


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