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Movie Review

Machete also known as “Мачете”

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Crime Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
September 3, 2010
DVD: January 4, 2011
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues

About murder in the Bible

Death

Final judgment

Knife

Money

Fornication

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

Featuring: Danny Trejo (Machete), Michelle Rodriguez (Luz), Jessica Alba (Sartana), Robert De Niro (Senator McLaughlin), Lindsay Lohan (April Benz), Cheech Marin (Padre Benito del Toro), Jeff Fahey (Michael Benz), Steven Seagal (Torrez), Don Johnson (Lt. Stillman), more »
Director: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Producer: Hyde Park Entertainment, Overnight Films, Rodriguez International Pictures, Tax Credit Finance, Wintergreen Productions, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“He was given an offer he couldn’t refuse…”

Pardon the pun, but let me cut right to the chase. “Machete” is a film that will certainly polarize viewers, particularly Christians who rely solely on this site in making their entertainment choices. Whether or not one enjoys this style of entertainment (or even decides to see it) can easily be determined by whether a potential viewer has a predisposition to like this particular genre of stylized violence and are able to chalk it up for what it is, entertainment. If you’re looking for a romantic love story, interesting plot developments, sharp dialogue, complex multi-dimensional characters that change over the course of the story, or perhaps some deep philosophical, social or spiritual themes, then “Machete” is not for you.

“Machete” is directed by film auteur Robert Rodriquez (“From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Sin City”, “Planet Terror”) who some readers may be familiar with due to his kid centered movies “Spy Kids” and “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl,” let me state this upfront, “Machete” is rated “R” and pushes the limits of even that rating, one might seriously wonder how many heads have to roll (literally) before a film moves from “R” to “NC-17.” It bears no similarity to the childlike adventure movies Rodriguez specifically made for his kids and is far more similar in style and graphic content to the films listed with his name.

Some may look at the cast of this film (including Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal and Lindsay Lohan) and become curious about seeing it. For those of you that may be intrigued about “Machete,” let me give you a little of the background of how this film came into being that will probably squash any curiosity.

The character “Machete” dates back to 2001 when the character appeared in “Spy Kids” (once again please do not let a reference to this more kid-friendly film become confused as a recommendation for the film being discussed). The film itself was spawned from a faux trailer in the 2007 Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino exploitation, double-feature parody “Grindhouse.” The log-line from the trailer goes “They (blank)ed with the wrong Mexican.” That trailer, as well as the real ones that followed, gives a good indication as to what the film is about and the content contained therein. Once in a while, a movie delivers on the promises given by the trailer, in the case of “Machete” what you get in the preview is a small taste of what you get in the feature.

The film is designed to be an homage to the exploitation films that Rodriguez grew up with and, as such, follows a pretty standard plot. “Machete” Cortez (Danny Trejo) is a former Mexican Federale who gets double-crossed in an attempt to assassinate a corrupt state Senator (Robert De Niro). This assassination attempt puts Machete in the middle of a plot between corrupt government agents on both sides of the border and a Mexican drug lord (Steven Seagal). It allies him with a band of Mexican revolutionaries led by a female taco-truck vendor—Che’ Guevara like revolutionary—named Luz/She’ (Michelle Rodriguez, “Lost”). An all out war ensues involving Federal agents, politicians, Mexican drug lords, vigilante border portal agents and even the Catholic Church, each agency having their own agenda. For Machete, his only agenda is vengeance.

A page alone could be written on the long laundry list of items that most readers of this site will find HIGHLY offensive, starting with the EXTREME violence of this film. Let me again state this movie is meant to be an imitation of, or an homage to, earlier exploitation films of the 70’s, films which were known to be, among other things, graphically violent. “Machete” takes the violence to a far greater level and, as a reflection of the films it imitates, the violence is purposely grotesque, as well as gratuitous. There are frequent and prolonged, explicitly graphic scenes of people being decapitated, dismembered, disemboweled, impaled, shot, blown up and stabbed with any household item or garden tool you can think of. If there is a sharp object within reach, Machete will find a way to physically torture or maim someone with it.

Another item that figured prominently in exploitation films was the amount of scantily clad and totally naked women those films paraded around, usually while brandishing firearms. The posters often used titillating images of buxom babes bearing big guns. “Machete” keeps up this tradition with both the guns and the babes. Even with a face covered with scars and as rough as old leather, Machete is quite the “ladies man” and falls into bed with every woman he comes across. There are a few scenes of implied sex between “Machete” and the women who come into his life, as well as a scene with “Machete” and two naked women who are seen from the waist up as the three frolic in a swimming pool. Early in the film, Machete carries around a naked woman in a scene that is as violent as it is sexually charged.

In addition to the sex and violence another area that viewers will find offensive is the pervasive profanity and repeated usages of God’s name in vain. Though minor in comparison to the level of violence, there is a high rate of profanity throughout the film. If I had to wager the number of times the “f” word is uttered, it would be around 30 times by the film’s 2nd act, I stopped counting about ½ way through the film. In addition, there are other, typical garden variety curse words and a handful of “g-d’s” and other references to God’s name in vain. The parental guide on IMDb lists 64 references of profanity and coarse language.

While the violence will definitely upset the stomach of many Christians that choose to sit though “Machete,” the item that will probably be the tipping point that gets the viewer out of their seats and rushing through the exit occurs when the film takes on a religious context (a little more than ½ way through the film). Machete seeks the advice of his brother (Cheech Marin) who happens to be a priest. Many viewers (particularly Catholics and Christians) will undoubtedly find the depiction of the priest, as well as the scenes within the church, including a graphic crucifixion and characters using scripture out of context, highly disrespectful and offensive.

Lastly (and if you haven’t been deterred yet, then you are probably intent on seeing this film, regardless of its content), the film deals in a not so subtle way with the hot-button issue of “illegal immigration.” Depending on one’s particular political-leaning on the topic, one might argue that the film is advocating the side they favor. Each vested interest group, depicted in the film, shares their reasons as to why an immigrant population is either beneficial or a detriment to the U.S. Usually when a film advocates a political position, it can be clearly seen in the stance or actions of its main character. Machete, a former Mexican Federale agent, is caught in the middle of this war, but he is not out to make a statement, for him it’s personal, not political. If the film does show its political leanings, it is in the broad strokes it paints of the political figures, federal agents, and vigilante border enforcement on the American side of the border (to be fair, however, none of the characters on either side exist beyond one dimension) who are on the ‘deportation’ and ‘non-amnesty’ side of this highly charged issue.

So, in answering the question as to whether or not a reader, particularly a Christian reader, should see this film, it’s really pretty simple. If you are a Robert Rodriguez fan and have been eager to see the full incarnation of “Machete” since seeing the faux trailer that preceded “Planet Terror,” then you know what you’re getting and will not be disappointed. If, however, you are curious about the film either because of the all star cast or because the director made a couple cute films that a novice movie fan may be familiar with, then the best indication as to whether or not you should see this film is your reaction to the trailer (either the original “Grindhouse” or the subsequent “Cinco De Mayo” trailer.) If you were the least bit offended by the trailer, then there is nothing you will find in the full length movie that that will not offend you all the more.

‘Machete’ is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some drug content, some sexual content and nudity. This film is not recommended.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—I know that a lot of people will view this as sinful and distasteful, but, as a regular churchgoer, I have to say that this is quite an eye opener into the true nature of sin, wrongdoing and, above all, justice. First of all, yes, the character of Machete is based in sin. He fornicates, murders and generally blows stuff up, a lot. But… we have to consider from the outset of the film that he is a “federales,” i.e., a Mexican policeman and reputedly one of the best at what he does. In the film, he kills… but he kills evildoers and no innocents. He is not an evil man and although ultimately he will be judged for his actions, in a world full of hate, he is a cleansing light that shines on evil. To quote; “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers”—and you can certainly say that by the end of the film, the evildoers are all but quaking in their boots, especially when Machete “improvises” (watch the film to see what I mean) whilst some of the innocent go unpunished (the crime lord’s hired bodyguards, for example, only get knocked out or slightly beat up, not killed).

Ok, he isn’t a role model, but he does slay evil and do the Lord’s work and remember, “Great men are not always wise”… so I leave it open to you as to whether this film encourages evil or encourages the punishment of evil.

Another reason I felt I needed to review it is primarily because of the excellent filmmaking quality that Rodgriguez brings to all of his movies; the action sequences are beautifully mastered and, whilst gory, are justifiably so in line with the overall tribute the film is paying. So give it a chance, if you are not squeamish, and you never know, you may enjoy justice being dished out in spades (and knives, guns, explosives and a variety garden implements). Happy Viewing!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gjo, age 28 (United Kingdom)
Negative
Negative—Unfortunately, I saw this movie not knowing anything about it, and it was a disgusting waste of time. Felt like I needed a shower after. Last time I try a movie without checking reviews first.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Catherine Kingdom, age 44 (Canada)
Negative—…I usually don’t get too offended by any films, but unfortunately this film offended me and my political views deeply. I agree that we should keep illegal immigrants out of the US. Now, what we have here is Robert De Niro, a prominent liberal acting as a US Senator who wants to have electrified fences and kill every single illegal that comes across the border and just violence violence violence… that is not the message of what we are trying to send… but this is Hollywood. This was not funny, it’s offensive to all Americans who fight for our freedom. Shame to anyone who participated in this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Ryan O’Hara, age 18 (USA)
Negative—“Machete” is a supremely violent exploitation movie that’s nowhere near as enjoyable as its trailer. That was part of the fake ‘Coming ­Attractions’ section of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse” double-bill. Writer-director Rodriguez’s second cousin, Danny Trejo, plays the anti-hero, a vigilante who—despite a certain lack of good looks and sexual charisma—spends the movie bedding beautiful young Hispanics (notably Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez) and slicing and dicing bad guys, including a facially immobile Steven Seagal as a drug lord.

For reasons best known to himself (presumably political rather than artistic), Robert De Niro chooses to play a sleazy Texan senator who shoots Mexican immigrants for fun. Lindsay Lohan continues the steep downward spiral of her career, playing a spoiled rich girl who cavorts around bare-breasted before donning a nun’s habit, picking up an automatic weapon and turning mass killer. Great…
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Jonathan Tran, age 26 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—…I only saw the movie trailer… and am horrified! This film might as well have been put out by a pornography movie business! The amount of nudity and sexual nude acts just in the trailer is so scary. The gore and violence—well, it is the most gory thing I’ve ever seen on a trailer I believe, and for this trailer to be this bad, the movie I believe needs to be banned! It goes against everything that we good Christians follow; it is one of the most evil movies I believe that has ever came out. BEWARE OF JUST THE TRAILER ALONE!!!… This movie is just going to further corrupt our already lost people of this society. I plea the blood of Jesus over the entertainment industry and that you Jesus will take over what the enemy is doing!
—Sarah, age 24 (USA)
Negative—The trailer tells it all. This movie is evil. …
—Michael, age 52 (USA)