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dir Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
scr Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
prd Elizabeth Avellan, Aaron Kaufman, Iliana Nikolic, Robert Rodriguez, Rick Schwartz
with Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Daryl Sabara, Tom Savini, Shea Whigham
release US 3.Sep.10, UK 26.Nov.10
10/US Troublemaker 1h45
A man on a mission: Trejo
VENICE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Essentially part three of the Grindhouse series, this old-style thriller sprang from Rodriguez's fake trailer. In some ways it should have stayed that short, because while it's riotously entertaining, there's nothing much to it.
Machete (Trejo) is a disgraced Mexican Federale who's hiding amongst the illegal immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border. Here he stumbles into a conspiracy involving a trigger-happy senator (DeNiro) and a wild-eyed vigilante (Johnson) who are cleaning up the border one bullet at a time. But he also runs up against a sexy immigration officer (Alba), a ruthless businessman (Fahey) and a trail of criminality leading to his nemesis Torrez (Seagal). As things get nasty, he gets help from his priest brother (Marin) and a feisty taco-truck lady (Rodriguez).
Yes, this film is overcrowded with colourful characters. And we haven't mentioned Lohan's hilarious meth-addicted socialite or Savini's uber-hitman. That Rodriguez manages to keep all of these characters swirling through the relatively coherent chaos is pretty impressive, and the actors all make the most of the roles with seemingly unlimited attitude and posturing. As a result, each person takes on a iconic quality, and the script makes sure no one is underused.
But what this actually does is diffuse the story so much that there's nothing we can latch onto. We sit back and enjoy the mayhem, especially as the violence is so over-the-top that it's hilarious. But it's more like a series of interconnected comedy sketches than a fully formed feature. It's lively and colourful and extremely silly as it pokes fun at exploitation films. And the parade of hideous men with nasty moustaches and hot women with plunging necklines is deeply amusing.
At the centre, Trejo just about holds things together with a slightly overwhelmed performance as a guy who never saw a blade he didn't like. He'll wield just about any weapon, from a surgical scalpel to a weed-whacker, but he won't send a text message. And even though they're a gruesome twosome, Alba is terrific as his sidekick, offering a vaguely pointed comment about migrants amid the pandemonium: "We didn't cross the border; the border crossed us!"
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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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