Top 10… Danny Trejo Movies

Danny Trejo. Actor. Convicted felon. Rehabilitated drug addict. All-round badass. Look at him. I swear the man was born with a 70-year old face:machete_069
How has he not been in The Expendables yet? This guy has had one hell of a career. He started out in 1985 as a boxing prisoner in Runaway Train, during which he coached Eric Roberts for their boxing scene. From there, Trejo went on to play variations on the theme of Prisoner or Gang Member until he was cast by Robert Rodriguez, his second cousin (though they didn’t know it at the time) in Desperado. Trejo and Rodriguez have since had a fairly profitable partnership, working on at least 10 films together, though it’s only recently that Trejo has graduated to the starring role in Machete and Machete Kills. Speaking of which, I recently hosted an episode of the Lambcast devoted to Machete Kills, alongside Robert, Fredo, Will and Pat. The episode can be listened to here. Continue reading

Heat

Most crime films tend to pick a side early on, focusing on a ‘means to an end’ band of criminals thieving because they have to, or a team of patriotic, all-American supercops able to match their never-ending machine gun clips with a limitless supply of one liners, but Michael Mann’s Heat, a remake of his own 1989 made for TV movie L.A. Takedown, takes a different path, giving Robert De Niro’s gang of seasoned thieved and Al Pacino’s police squad equal screen time, equal motivation and similar levels of compassion, so you get to decide who you want to win. Though the two main characters; De Niro’s master thief Neil McCauley and Pacino’s dogged detective Vincent Hanna are sworn enemies, they are still two sides of the same coin, separated by their own opinions of the law, but brought together by a deep mutual respect. Neither one is the villain of the film, there are more than enough scumbags among the supporting player to take that role, yet neither is necessarily the hero, although in the end it’s Pacino who grabs the most heroic moments.
Surrounded by an incredible ensemble cast (deep breath: Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert, Natalie Portman, Xander Berkeley, Hank Azaria, Jon Voight, Jeremy Piven, Mykelti Williamson, William Fichtner, Tom Noonan, Ted Levine, Ashley Judd), some perfectly choreographed set pieces (the opening truck heist and mid film bank robbery/street shootout) and ability to show the effect their chosen lifestyles has had on these characters and their personal lives, or lack thereof, this is a tremendous film, even if it does give in to the occasional cliché, but these can be forgiven for the fact that they use weapons that actually, from time to time, need reloading.
Choose film 9/10