Posts Tagged ‘michelle rodriguez’

How many ways can a film suck? Let’s do a quick checklist, shall we, in relation, to this, Hollywood’s latest megamillion-dollar (well, okay, $70 million dollar, to be precise) waste of time.

1. It can have boring characters.

Check. Battle : Los Angeles doesn’t even have actual characters per se, it’s just got dull, bog-standard stereotypes dressed up in uniform. There’s Aaron Eckhart, who pretty much always sucks and just gets cast because he’s got a square jaw, as the forced-back-into-action military veteran who’s got to lead a platoon (or whatever they’re called) into battle despite the fact that he just got some men killed under his watch in Iraq (or maybe it’s Afghanistan) and was on the way to file his retirement papers. then there’s Michelle Rodriguez playing the same part she always does — a bad-ass superheroine-type who’s tough as nail but also supposedly sexy (even though she isn’t and never has been). Then we’ve got the guy about to get married, the African dude who joined the army to get his US citizenship so he could go to med school when his tour of duty was completed, etc. You’ll forget their names and their faces by the time they (mostly) get killed, and you won’t care when they die.

2. It can have an uninteresting story.

Battle : Los Angeles scores again on that front. After being given the most cursory “introduction” to the characters possible, we learn that the world is being invaded by giant fucking flying saucers with battle-ready robots spewing forth from them and by the time we learn what they’re doing here — evidently they want to rip off all our water — we no longer care (if we’re sane).

3. It can be poorly directed.

Another hit! Battle : Los Angeles is directed by grade-A hack Jonathan Liebesman who can’t decide if he wants to make Saving Private Ryan or Cloverfield and seems to get stuck somewhere in the middle. It’s trying to put us in the “middle of the action” at all times, but since we don’t give a single, solitary, flying fuck about any of the “action,” the middle of it is nowhere you’ll want to be. You just want everyone to get killed and the whole thing to end. Except it drags out for a brutal, interminable 116 minutes. Stay home and watch your toenails grow instead, it’ll be a more productive — and involving — use of your time.

4. It can have bad acting.

Bingo again! Battle : Los Angeles features atrocious, cardboard-cut-out acting from all involved. Nobody does anything above and beyond showing up to earn their paycheck.

5. It can have laughable dialogue.

Bull’s-eye! Battle : Los Angeles features some of the most ham-fisted dialogue to come out of Hollywood in recent memory, and that’s really saying something. No one has anything to say beyond brave-sounding bullshit and useless military jargon. this stuff makes John Wayne look positively fucking subtle by comparison.

6. It can have a stupid, intelligence-insulting premise.

On this score, Battle : Los Angeles is even more guilty than on the others. At its core this overstuffed pig is nothing more than a high-tech military recruitment film, designed to portray all our men and women in uniform (and form all cultures and all parts of the world — today’s army will take ’em all, aren’t they wonderful?) as noble, purposeful people of the highest integrity and unflinching virtue. PTSD , horrible injuries, even death — it all just goes with the territory when you’re fighting for all that’s right and good, doesn’t it? A small price to pay for defending — uhhhmmm — “freedom.” The hard, cold reality — that our government and, more specifically, its corporate bosses, view these guys and gals as nothing more than hamburger for their always-churning meat grinder is conveniently glossed over. Have fun dying for Halliburton and GE, suckers. Hollywood will always be around to spend millions portraying you as noble warriors for truth and justice rather than poorly-paid hired thugs for the corporate class. Might have something to do with who owns the studios, I’m willing to bet. Sure, there’s danger — but danger is cool!  Sure, you might end up on a morgue slab — but you’ll get there the “honorable” way. Your life — and death — will have meaning and purpose, unlike it does now (since most of that meaning and purpose has been robbed from you right from the outset by the same greedy bastards who will then tell you how “heroic” it is to put yourself on the line protecting their ever-increasing profit margins).

Ya know, I think I’m gonna stop right there. Sure, the list could go on and on, but the fact is that there are only so many ways for me to implore you to not see this film under any circumstances whatsoever. Honestly, it makes the Transformers flicks looks like complex, intricate woks of cinematic art. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords — if it means that no more movies like this will ever be made.

"Machete" Movie Poster

In recent months, fans of exploitation cinema have been given one hell of a gift — no less than three new films that show that the ethos of the grindhouse is still alive and well, namely Black Dynamite, Piranha 3-D, and the subject of our little missive here today, Robert Rodriguez’s much-anticipated Machete.


Can you resist that? Didn’t think so.

Th tough thing about reviewing Machete is hitting on all the things that this flick gets absolutely and unequivocally right — I’ve jogged my brain time and again looking for any flaws in this movie whatsoever, and I honestly can’t find any.

We’ve got veteran supporting player Danny Trejo finally getting his props in a title role, and it’s the part he was absolutely born to play : an ex-federale whose wife and kid were murdered by a ruthless drug lord before he himself was SET UP! DOUBLE CROSSED! LEFT FOR — oh, you get the point. Machete’s looking to make his way as an anonymous day laborer in south Texas after a rescue attempt he undertook while still with the Mexican police force went horribly wrong (the girl he goes in to free is in on the set-up and friends, you won’t believe where she hides her cell phone — I’ll say no more) and left him a childless widower.

Enter a political sleazebag named Booth (Jeff Fahey),a guy with a lot of money, a lot of connections, and a decidedly un-fatherly interest in his own daughter (Lindsay Lohan, who spends a good chunk of the movie buck nekkid — and yes, it’s a body double). He wants Machete to take out a rabid anti-immigrant, xenophobic state senator named John McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro), a guy who’s running on a platform of building an electrified fence along the Texas-Mexico border.

It’s all a dastardly set-up, of course — Machete seems to have a way of walking into these things — and that’s when the shit hits the fan/ all hell breaks loose/ pick your favorite semi-vulgar cliche.

Machete’s gotta go underground, but he’s got help from “The Network,” the kind of organized support organization for illegal immigrants that right-wingers think actually exists but doesn’t, run by taco-stand operator-with-a-heart-of-gold Luz (Michelle Rodriguez).

He’s got some help from less likely quarters, as well : there’s his former-hitman-now-priest brother Padre (Cheech Marin — and yes, that’s the only name he’s ever given — and wait until you see how he meets his maker, but I’ve probably given too much away already) and by-the-book-ICE agent Sardana (Jessica Alba), who sees the light and joins the good guys (and falls in love with Machete to boot, naturally), for instance.

But will this ragtag band of undocumented workers, an ex-federale, and a law enforcement agent on the lam be able to take on powerful political insiders, TV-advertising assassin Osiris Amanpour (former FX whiz-turned-musclehead-actor Tom Savini), a Minutemen-style anti-immigrant vigilante army lead by the ruthless Lt. Von Jackson (Don Johnson — billled, for whatever reason, on the poster as being “introduced” in this film —  in a terrific scenery-chewing performance ), and the forces of Torrez (Steven Seagal — speaking of scenery-chewing), the  ruthless Mexican drug lord responsible for killing Machete’s family who’s somehow connected with these far-right, Tea Party-on- steroids type forces?

The answer, dear reader, is — of course. Along the way there’s severed heads and limbs aplenty, a guy who gets his intestines used as a grappling rope in a daring out-the-window-escape, plenty of naked boobs, lots of bad-ass low-rider vehicles, a ruthless killing of a pregnant woman, more backstabbing backroom deals than you can count, and blood n’ guts galore, but there’s never any doubt about who’s gonna come out on top of this fracas.

Rodriguez , co-director (and longtime editing partner) Ethan Maniquis, and co-writer (and brother) Alvaro Rodriguez really pull out all the stop on this one, people — if you loved the phony preview for this that ran before Planet Terror on the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse double bill a couple years back, rest assured every scene in there made it into the finished product, plus a whole hell of a lot more.

In essence, this is a blaxploitation flick with all the stops pulled out, only with Latinos instead of African Americans. It’s Mexploitation for an American audience, and if you don’t pump your fist in the air at the sight of Machete leading an army of low-riders into battle, or at killer lines like “Machete don’t text” and Jessica Alba screaming “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!,” then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Machete kicks ass and takes names and like the best exploitation flicks of the 70s it uses its sleazy veneer as cover to address contemporary issues much more openly and honestly than big-budget Hollywood studio fare would ever dare to. Like its titular hero, Machete is a film with brass balls that doesn’t fucking compromise.

Look, I’m not on crack — I won’t tell you that Machete is destined to be the best movie of the year. But it’s the best time you’ll have at the movies all year, and that’s a lead pipe cinch.  We’ll finish this up with some promo stills to whet your appetite to get out and see this immediately — or to see it again if you already have. Machete is the shit. Case closed.