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The Blue & Gray Press | September 26, 2017

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'Machete' Kills it in First Half, Flops in Second

“Machete” is here, for real this time. Ever since the amazing fake trailer for “Machete” appeared in the middle of the epic theater experience that was “Grindhouse,” people have been clamoring for more of this badass Mexican. I certainly was. But after actually seeing it, I wonder if the film should have just remained an amazing fake trailer, leaving what actually happens in the film to our imaginations.

Danny Trejo stars as Machete, an ex-Federale who gets hired to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) by a shady, rich man named Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey). Booth, however, should’ve read the movie’s tagline: “They f***ed with the wrong Mexican.”

Robert Rodriguez, director of the better half of “Grindhouse,” called “Planet Terror,” is clearly showing off his love for this kind of pulp action film. The action scenes are ridiculous and gratuitously bloody, the sex scenes don’t have a whole lot of reason to happen but do anyway, and the plot only really exists to justify the violence.

The plot is easily the worst part of the movie, which wouldn’t matter if they didn’t force it down our throats. This plot mostly comes from two female characters that Rodriguez seems to want us to care about for some reason. In reality, the audience just wants to see thugs getting chopped in the face, and isn’t there for a 105-minute protest against Mexican border patrols.

On top of this, all the hilariously over-the-top action sequences happen in the first half, while the last half is, well, kind of boring. That isn’t to say that nothing fun happens, but compared to earlier scenes, it takes a notable step down in quality. It’s as if Rodriguez lost all motivation for “Machete” halfway through.

That lack of motivation is most evident in the finale, where almost nothing is satisfying. It tries to tie up absolutely every plot line at once, but virtually all of them are resolved in unsatisfactory ways. The hilarious gore that was present at the beginning of the movie is missing here, and while the final fight scene tries to be awesome, it’s far too pitifully choreographed to be anything other than bad.

The big problem with the movie is that there just wasn’t enough Machete. I can only think of three scenes where Machete even fights people with a machete, and two of them are in the first half, while the last is in that terrible finale.

This may have something to with Trejo being 66 years old, officially making him a senior citizen. He looks 66 years old in the face, but he is clearly in great shape and able to pull off more than you would expect. He is definitely the best part of the production, as he should be. Not having enough Machete definitely hurt the film.

Still, I really liked “Machete.” The first half alone makes the movie worth seeing, but I just wish the whole film had been more consistently awesome.

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