It is difficult to believe that Machete, an over-the-top take on 70’s low-budget action filled with cartoonish violence, gratuitous nudity and self-aware dialogue could be boring, but it is; very boring. Coming from someone who saw Grindhouse three times in the theater in 2007, the Machete trailer was endlessly watchable. It makes sense why Rodriguez saw the potential for a feature length film. The end result is a lifeless mess.
Using Danny Trejo to revamp the 70’s action icon is inspired but it turns out that Trejo appears in supporting roles for a reason. He carries a special presence with him but no spark or intrigue to support it. He has little dialogue, plus emotion does not read on his face and as a physical action star, he brings nothing to the table. He does not have the gift of an actor like Clint Eastwood, who can appear emotionless with characters like The Man with No Name, and still hold our interest. Its failed attempt to be political in a film that takes pride not taking itself seriously is also problematic.
Almost every actor here, including Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba and Lindsay Lohan give hollow performances. Cheech Marin and Michelle Rodriguez are the only actors who find some sense of self in the film’s reality and emerge unscathed.
Directors Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquez recycle techniques from Planet Terror. Somehow they could not manage to infuse any energy, enthusiasm or even fun into the film, instead focusing on its stunt casting, sex and violence to carry Machete through its running time. As a result, all of it becomes tired, boring and slow. There is nothing original or creative to be found here. If the highlight of your entire film is Trejo saying “Machete don’t text”, there might be a problem.