Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
About murder in the Bible
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.