cuts off hands, heads, eviscerates people, and uses one specific organ as a means of escaping from a hairy situation in Machete
, Robert Rodriguez'
ode to '70s B-movies. Trejo's never had a role like this in his nearly 30 year film career, and the craggy-faced veteran actor makes the most of it. With his icy glare and don't mess with me attitude, Trejo out-toughs the entire cast of The Expendables
- and he gets the girl.
's as bloody as you want it to be and just as violent as you'd expect. The minimal plot is there only as a means of setting up unbelievably gross, incredibly funny, over-the-top action scenes. Although Trejo's favorite weapon in the film is the machete, obviously, all sorts of household items are put to use to off the bad guys, including shoe heels, a corkscrew, and even a weed whacker comes in handy to whack more than just annoying weeds. There's blood, guts and nudity galore, and to top it off Rodriguez injects some timely political commentary on controversial immigration issues. That aspect of the film might turn off some potential ticket buyers, but Rodriguez is obviously willing to take that chance as he doesn't shy away from the political hot potato.
Machete's a Mexican federale who's a straight up guy. He doesn't accept bribes, much to the chagrin of drug kingpin, Torrez (Steven Seagal looking kind of like Wayne Newton if Wayne Newton was attempting to play a Mexican bad guy). Torrez is ruthless in his desire to get Machete off his tail, and sets up the federale in order to corner and kill him - but not before he kills Machete's wife and daughter.
After being left for dead, Machete crosses the border into Texas and looks for work as a laborer. While hanging out in a parking lot with other illegal aliens, Machete meets Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the owner of a taco truck who's also involved in The Network (an organization that helps people cross the border and get jobs). Luz is strong and beautiful, a powerhouse to be reckoned with as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) knows well.
Jessica Alba in 'Machete.'© 20th Century Fox
So, Machete's looking for work and lo and behold he's approached by a sleazy businessman (Jeff Fahey) with an offer to kill Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) for $150,000 - and it's an offer he can't refuse if he wants to remain alive and breathing. But when Machete shows up for the job, he quickly figures out he's been set-up. Identified as the would-be assassin, Machete now has to convince Agent Sartana he's not the mastermind of the failed attempt at murdering the senator while figuring out who's actually pulling all the strings.
Even though Rodriguez didn't have any idea while filming Machete
the kind of trouble Lindsay Lohan
would be dealing with as his movie hits theaters, seeing her playing a sleazy, drugged up, spoiled woman who takes off her clothes faster than Machete can chop off extremities was more disturbing than fun. And having Trejo be a love interest for Rodriguez and Alba, and to a lesser degree Lohan, is pushing it too far. Trejo cutting people to shreds = awesome. Trejo kissing ladies 40 years younger = bleech.
The rest of Machete's ensemble reflects Rodriguez' genius at casting outside the box. Robert De Niro as a scummy, immigrant-hating Texas senator who takes pleasure in shooting unarmed illegal aliens is De Niro not necessarily at his best, but at least back in the game after a series of bad choices over the past few years.
A frequent performer in Rodriguez' films, Cheech Marin shows to add a little comic relief (and to mow down a handful of bad guys). Trejo and Marin play brothers and their scenes don't last nearly long enough. Maybe Rodriguez can do a prequel focusing on just those two - I'd pay to see that.
Jeff Fahey does sleazy well and Don Johnson's 'introduced' as a scumbag Texas landowner who finds sport in killing the illegals who cross over the border and onto his family's land. But it's the two leading ladies of Machete
who really impress. Michelle Rodriguez
has made a career of playing tough girls, and as the ass-kicking leader of an underground movement to help Mexican illegal immigrants, Rodriguez is perfect. And for those who think Lohan and Alba are the eye candy of Machete
, you're wrong. Wearing an eye patch and not much on top, Rodriguez shows off her beautiful body in a way that's not gratuitous but just downright sexy. As for Alba, Robert Rodriguez gets something special out of the 29 year old actress once again (his Sin City
features her best performance to date).
The Bottom Line
As entertaining as Machete
is, at one hour and 45 minutes it runs a little long and could have used a few edits here and there. And Machete
's plot is totally unbelievable and more than a little goofy, and the film has a spattering of speed-bumps that slow it down. I'm thinking maybe chopping out much of one specific actress' scenes would have helped not only speed things up but also would have taken away an unnecessary distraction. That said, Rodriguez delivered so many memorable scenes in Machete
that it's possible to overlook the film's shortfalls.
Michelle Rodriguez in 'Machete.'© 20th Century Fox
From scratchy opening credits to jerky editing at key moments to make it look straight out of the '70s, Machete
proves you can work backwards in making a feature film. The popularity of the Machete
trailer, made specifically for Grindhouse
, prompted a movie starring the fake trailer's star, Danny Trejo. And Trejo doesn't die in Machete
(no, I don't consider that a spoiler). Robert Rodriguez has said all along that Trejo won't meet an untimely end in Machete
the way he does in 99% of his other films. In fact, there are more Machete
s in the works if you can believe the end credits. And because Machete
does live up to its promises and delivers the goods - and the gore - hopefully Rodriguez will return to Machete's world sooner rather than later.
Machete was directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis and is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.
Theatrical Release: September 3, 2010
This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy