Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Shea Whigham, Lindsay Lohan, Cheryl Chin, Daryl Sabara, Gilbert Trejo, Ara Celi, Tom Savini
Written by: Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
Directed by: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity
Running Time: 105
Date: 09/01/2010
IMDB

Machete (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Cut Above

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Springing dubiously from one of the fake trailers in Grindhouse (2007) -- and shot in that same "grindhouse" style -- the new Machete brings director Robert Rodriguez's career full circle and emerges as one of his very best films.

Three years ago, a "Federale" (i.e. Mexican federal police), called "Machete" (Danny Trejo) watched helplessly as a ruthless gangster (Steven Seagal) murdered his wife. Now, he works as a day laborer on the U.S. side of the border. He is hired to assassinate a U.S. senator (Robert De Niro) -- a stern advocate against Mexican immigrants -- but the job turns out to be a setup. Now Machete is on the run, but he has help from a pretty immigration agent (Jessica Alba) and an underground revolutionary leader (Michelle Rodriguez). Enter several nasty killers, a gun-toting priest, and a drug-addled daughter, and it all adds up to a bullet-ridden showdown, with Machete in the middle.

Rodriguez began in 1992 with the low-budget Spanish-language action movie El Mariachi, and Machete continues in that vein, but with more resources, more enthusiasm and more guts. He can sometimes get a bit too carried away with his films, and can sometimes forget to invite the audience into his fun, but Machete captures exactly the right tone, perhaps thanks to Rodriguez's new co-director Ethan Maniquis. It's fun, shocking and with some righteous ideals. Under any conditions, Rodriguez is one of the finest action directors in Hollywood, and his set-pieces here are precise and explosive. The amazing, oddball cast are perfectly placed, especially the tough, pockmarked character actor (and ex-con) Danny Trejo in the lead; it's great fun to see Don Johnson and Steven Seagal resurrected for the big screen once again, and Michelle Rodriguez has never been sexier.

Fox's Blu-Ray comes with an "audience reaction track," which is basically cheers, whoops and hollers, plus deleted scenes and trailers. The movie looks terrific in high-def, with all its (intended) scratches intact.

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