Rodriguez had quite an eventful 2010, although not one overflowing with extreme success. First his producer credit on Predators helped push that film as far as an R-rated Sci-fi set in a jungle could possibly succeed at the box office. Then he followed it up some months later with Machete, a film based off of a trailer that preceded the Grindhouse double feature that Tarantino and he directed (or separate parts of, rather). With Danny Trejo in his first starring role (front and center in all posters to boot) the film wasn’t sure to be a huge success out the gate but with talent like Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba and a handful of other talented individuals playing supporting roles under Trejo, it was a film that quickly earned plenty of accolades from those who enjoy such mindless entertainment. Surprisingly there was a kind of political/humane message interwoven throughout all of it; but really, in the end, it was about as many droplets of blood that were expelled on screen…of which there were many, many gallons.
From director Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse, Sin City), and featuring an all-star cast including Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro and Jessica Alba, comes an action-packed, bare-knuckled fistful of carnage asada! Set up, double-crossed and left for dead, Machete (Trejo) is an ass-kicking ex-Federale who lays waste to anything that gets in his path. As he takes on hit men, vigilantes and a ruthless drug cartel, bullets fly, blades clash and the body count rises. Any way you slice it, vengeance has a new name–Machete.
Truthfully speaking, Machete is the third entry in the Grindhouse saga because it fits into the same feeling of Planet Terror with its spontaneity; it freely vaults over into serious territory only to alley-oop into comedy for a brief stint before circling back into drama. It’s unsettling at times because you never know what’s going to happen in this film…and truthfully, the first five minutes of the film set that stage. It’s over an hour and forty minutes long and each passing minute it manages to make you laugh and behold an enormous amount of action as well as some gratuitous nudity (just ‘cause).
The whole gist of the movie is just a revenge flick that somehow mixes in pertinent and fair (well not really) social commentary on the whole immigration thing. It’s decidedly one sided, but it really doesn’t matter—this movie’s bonus current-events talk is something that will (hopefully) be dated one day and for now is just an interesting addition to what you assumed was just going to be a movie full of mindless violence (which of course it is as well). Really this film was everything I expected it to be—which is fantastic considering I was worried the concept would wear a bit longer than necessary. But really with all the of new characters cropping up and weaving themselves into the storyline it was as much an ensemble effort as it was Trejo’s star power that carried this film.
Really there’s not a lot of substance to this film—a lot of characters being built up (and subsequently murdered in some grizzly fashion) and them interacting with one another but there is almost always an action scene or two mixed in to break things up and keep it all flowing. Just when you think we’re going to have to endure some post-morning cuddle between Alba and Trejo’s characters a firefight breaks out and all is made well again in the violence world. But really it’s all to be expected from a film that has a woman pulling a cell phone out of…well, the only place she could stuff one when she’s completely naked.
Overall Machete is loud, brash and about as offensive (visually) as Planet Terror, though with quite a fewer pustules popping. It may wear on a bit long for some, but overall it’s a really incredible experience—everything from DeNiro’s political character to Steven Seagal’s absolutely ridiculous super villain character, there is just a ton of fun things about this movie to absorb. Definitely a Highly Recommended outing if you enjoy the kind of storytelling and direction that Rodriguez has exhibited in the past.
Fox pushes Machete out on Blu-ray in a two-disc release. Inside the slipcover (which is quite cool—the back is at least different than the art underneath it)-draped Elite Blu-ray case is a single insert and the two discs – one Blu-ray and one digital copy (why they didn’t include a DVD copy this time around I don’t know). What’s cool about the digital copy this time around though, there’s a matrix code given so you can take a picture of it with your smartphone and it’ll load up on that. Looks like a cool little addition—couldn’t get the PocketBlu app to work with my Android device/PS3 system though, but I honestly didn’t try that hard to get it set up. Why would I when I have a beautiful 1080p/DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix to occupy my eyes? Menus for the Blu-ray are simple and easy to navigate and the overall presentation that is nice enough though it would’ve looked better if they’d used the original theatrical silhouette poster.
Moving onto the AVC encoded 1080p 1.85:1 transfer we get the usual flawless presentation out of Fox. The majority of the film oozes detail out of all of the frames, boasting plenty of detail in the myriad of sequences that range from city to jungles. On top of that we have plenty of detail on character faces (especially Trejo’s crater like face) and the like. The audio matches the visual presentation with incredible dexterity. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix thuds and booms at every turn, spreading the love around to all of the surrounds and making full use of the LFE output. There is quite a bit of dialogue in this film and all of it spits out of the center channel with superb clarity while all of the films many, many (many) varied sound effects echo throughout the room. Gun shots are deafening and stabbings are as brutal as they should be. There really isn’t a single moment in the action scenes that aren’t as pleasing to watch as they are to hear, although I’m mildly surprised we didn’t get a 7.1 track…oh well.
Audience Reaction Track
Deleted Scenes (10:58, 1080p)
Y…what in the hell? How did we get such a barren package when we are usually so laden with extras when it comes to a Rodriguez production? I’ve honestly no clue. It seems a bit of a rip off, quite frankly, as we don’t even have a commentary from him—only an audience reaction track (which admittedly is pretty entertaining to listen to). The deleted scenes are great but…really? That’s all? Major, major bummer.
Even so this is a Recommended disc as it’s a very spectacular looking set overall. Too bad about the extras, although I’m sure we’ll get a re-release down the line (though if it will take as long as the Grindhouse full-feature, who knows).
Machete is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.