Starring Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, and Steven Seagal
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity
Appropriate for ages 17+
When Machete was first conceived it was a joke trailer in the Grindhouse movies that Robert Rodriguez and Quinton Tarantino released in 2007. So in the Grindhouse spirit comes the full length feature of Machete which is every bit a b-movie with no disguise of wanting to be taken too seriously. Machete, played by Rodriguez buddy Danny Trejo, is a Mexican Federale whose wife and daughter are murdered by a Mexican version of Steven Seagal. Thought dead, Machete turns up in Texas years later hired to botch an assassination attempt on an immigrant-hating U.S. Senator played by De Niro. Teaming with immigration agent Jessica Alba, Machete goes after pretty much everyone in Texas that has done bad in an attempt to help the Mexican cause.
What’s funny is that while the film isn’t overly serious, it works great as a political satire. You can tell that the immigration issues are close to heart and there is quite a lot of Mexican pride in this film. Perhaps they should have cared more about that and less about sticking to the fake trailer and they could have had something more substantial in the can.
Where they went wrong is how ridiculous the whole thing is. First off, they felt a need to make this look like a low-budget film even if it wasn’t. Also, while the extreme amount of violence and nudity stick with the theme, it removes the audience from the story. Sure its fun to see the hero jumping out a window attached to a man’s intestines, but the whole scene was about that sick stunt and didn’t do a thing for the story. I’m not sure what a naked Lindsay Lohan did either except for the hope that an audience might be drawn in to see the fallen star without her clothes on. I’m not complaining about that last one – I just have no idea what it had to do with anything.
Then there is Danny Trejo. He is fine for some parts. But a leading man? Hardly. He is the buddy of the director and he looked uncomfortable for the entire picture like he was constantly thinking “are they really making a movie with me as the star?” And he’s not a star. He’s a fun character actor. You pull him in for five minutes of screen time when you need a scary villain, mercenary or a mechanic (at least those are my favorite parts he’s played). You definitely don’t want to watch him make out with Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez. It gives me hope that maybe I could have my own picture. Of course I need to find a best friend director first.
But with all of this criticism, I still somehow found the movie to be enjoyable. I laughed my way throughout and took it about as seriously as the filmmakers. It’s not Rodriguez’s best work, but I’ve seen him do worse. B-