September 14, 2010

Yet, Trejo delivers the second best performance in Machete, behind only Cheech Marin’s sadly brief turn as Machete‘s brother, a dope-smoking, shotgun-wielding priest. De Niro plays an anti-immigration Texas state senator who murders border-crossers for fun. The legend forgets his Texas accent in the second half of Machete and starts talking like a Scorsese character from Little Italy.

Stephen Seagal portrays a Mexican drug lord. Enough said.

And then there’s Lindsay Lohan’s execrable cameo as a spoiled slut, a role that is, apparently, too much of a stretch for her acting chops nowadays.

Lovely Jessica Alba is cast as a tough Border Patrol copette who switches sides out of blood loyalty to La Raza after she falls for the vintage charms of Machete. The willowy Alba seems to be just marking time at this whole acting thing until she can relinquish her current buttkicking babe roles, put on ten pounds, and begin what promises to be a long career of nice mom roles as a subliminally Hispanic Mary Steenburgen.

Nor does it help that Rodriguez repeatedly halts all the decapitating for extended bouts of political speechifying that he wrote about how white Americans are so filled with hate that he just wants to disembowel them all.

According to Rodriguez, though, none of these weaknesses matter because Machete is supposed to be awful. He has positioned his movie’s half-assed script, acting, cinematography, and stunts as loving tributes to the similarly crummy blaxploitation films of 1973. It’s a “€œMexploitation”€ movie!

Get it?

The postmodern irony of Rodriguez’s publicity ploy intimidates critics into calling Machete “€œentertaining”€ when it’s tedious and stupid. (These low standards let the nepotistic director get away with employing his sister as editor and his first cousin as co-writer.)

Yet, there are only so many people who will pay to see a stinker with one laugh every 15 minutes because they find its meta-joke conceptually amusing. In its second week, Machete is laying an egg at the box office because the Mexican audience, which makes up the demographic core of Hollywood blockbuster enthusiasts, isn”€™t really into irony. When they pay their hard-earned money to see a movie, they want to see one where the filmmakers worked hard, too.



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