Robert Rodriguez' "Machete": Sloppy, Mildly Nauseating

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

I don't exactly "like" Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis' Machete. I found it mildly agreeable because of three or four factors that I'll explain in a second. But it left me persuaded all the more that Rodriguez lacks the sensitivity to be an A-level director. His movies are always about blood, bullets, hot babes and primitive emotions. He really does seem to lack the wit and the savoir faire to do anything else.

You're not a serious director unless you can see, feel or otherwise sense the presence of invisible things. As a director (and probably as a man), Rodriguez has shown an interest and/or focus in the obvious physical stuff. He's gone "within" exactly once, and that was some 17 or 18 years ago in El Mariachi (and particularly via the performance of Carlos Gallardo). Since then the man has pretty much been a shameless whore.

Machete, however, is half-tolerable because it's an out-and-out comedy as opposed to a Grindhouse-style genre wallow, and as such is probably Rodriguez's best (certainly least offensive) film since El Mariachi. It also pushes a pro-Latino, pro-immigration, screw-the-racist-Arizona-haters political theme that is very much to my personal liking.

On top of which it's vaguely surreal to watch 67 year-old Danny Trejo strut around as Mr. Latino Stud with women 50 years younger licking their lips. And it's mildly amusing to see Lindsay Lohan (a) playing a druggie, (b) doing a Lady Godiva topless scene (blonde hair covering certain regions) and (c) shooting a bunch of baddies during the big bloody finale while wearing a nun's habit. And Robert De Niro, playing a sleazy right-wing Texas politician, delivers one great line near the end about how he's "not even from here." And there's a reasonably decent slapstick bit involving the use of a body part. (No further details.)

That said, Machete is one of those sloppy B movies that throws as much gooey stuff at the walls as it can in hopes that some of it will stick. It's the kind of film that makes the lower-end-of-the-gene-pool guys feel hip, so It'll probably generate decent word-of-mouth. But the relentless emphasis on blood, sadism, slicing and limb-severing has a nauseating effect, and after a while you just want Machete to end. You feel like taking an Alka-Seltzer after it's over.

On top of which two characters are shot and seemingly dead, and then it turns out they're not for reasons that don't add up. I hate that. If you're going to kill someone, kill them and send them to kingdom come. Permanently. No reprieves.