REVIEW: MACHETE

Lindsay Lohan in a nun habit. Steven Seagal as the bad guy. Cheech Marin and a double-barrel shotgun. Danny Trejo with the title prop.

Robert Rodriguez’ ‘Machete’ is a series of iconic images looking for a story.

The movie is fun, looks great — but it’s an overstuffed mess, people.

Rodriguez is a guy-movie God. ‘Sin City’ speaks for itself.

Watching ‘Machete’ made me want to grab hold of Rodriguez and scream SLOW DOWN, FOCUS AND REWRITE.

The plot — Trejo is Machete, wants to get revenge on Seagal, goes to battle with corrupt politicos Robert De Niro and Jeff Fahey, enlists the aid of Cheech, Jessica Alba and Michele Rodriguez while Don Johnson  . . . wait, what the hell is Don Johnson’s character doing in this movie?

Oh, and Lindsay Lohan, as Fahey’s daughter, has blond hair extensions placed carefully over her nipples.

PROBLEM #1: Too many characters.

Robert Rodriguez made multiple characters work in ‘Sin City,’ but he had Frank Miller’s structured source material. ‘Machete’ is more like the crappy ‘Planet Terror’ entry in ‘Grindhouse.’

Example of problem: Michele Rodriguez and Jessica Alba — why are BOTH their characters in the movie?

Seems to me that a script rewrite should have combined these two into a single character, who starts off the movie as Jessica Alba’s ICE agent, but ends as Michele Rodriguez’ Mexican militant. Instead, we get two thinly-drawn characters.

See what I’m sayin’?

PROBLEM # 2: Too many characters

By design, ‘Machete’ oozes the 70s grindhouse vibe. They didn’t have big budgets, but they were lean, mean and concise.

Think anything with Charles Bronson — ‘Mr. Majestyk’ or ‘The Mechanic.’  Think ‘The Getaway . . ‘ Hell, think any movie with Al Lettieri.

The movies always built up to the hero’s confrontation with freakin’ Al Lettieri, right?

Steven Seagal is one of the many bad guys in ‘Machete.’ He gives the best performance, hands down. That’s right, Steven Seagal gives a better performance than Robert DeNiro.

Yes, there’s a confrontation between Machete and Seagal at the climax of the movie. But holy crap is it weak.

How weak?

Seagal’s character tells Machete something like, ‘We used to be federales. We used to put bad guys away. Now I’m a bad guy.’

Horrible script-writing aside, the lines made me think, ‘WHERE THE FRIK IS THAT MOVIE?’

Where are the scenes where Seagal and Trejo are patrolling Juarez, Mexico as honest lawmen? Where’s the scene where brother betrays brother, setting up a collision course between the two B-movie icons?

Instead, we get bad guy De Niro doing his comedy schtick. Bad guy Don Johnson as I don’t know what. AND BAD GUY JEFF FAHEY GETS MORE LINES THAN ANYONE ELSE.

Less is more. ‘Machete’ needed less characters, more Seagal.

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