Robert Rodriguez’s homage to the exploitation films of the 1970s contains beheading, stabbing, betrayal, a beautiful nude woman who pulls a cellphone from…(well, you’ll have to watch it to find out), and Steven Seagal as a villain. And that’s before the opening credits!
Our hero, Machete (Danny Trejo), has suffered the loss of his wife and daughter at the hands of the evil drug kingpin, Torrez (Seagal). Three years later, our hero, by chance, gets caught up in a whirlwind of lies and deceit, which leads to Machete being framed as the gunman in a plot to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro). Booth (Jeff Fahey), who has unwittingly hired Machete as the scapegoat, has no idea who he’s dealing with. This misfire takes Machete down several roads, all of which lead to his nemesis, Torrez.
Along the way we meet the beautiful, and law abiding, Sartana (Jessica Alba), who, as part of the immigration police force, feels as if she’s betraying her own kind by tracking down illegal immigrants to be deported. Meanwhile, on the other side of the legal fence, Luz (Michelle Rodriguez, looking sexier than usual), is helping her people make a better life for themselves in the states. With this, we get the underlying pro-illegal-immigration message of the film, which, at times, comes across too preachy. But then again, this happened in some of the exploitation films of the 1970s, so this can, in essence, be chalked up to the films genre without causing an uproar from the audience regardless of their personal stance on the subject.
Machete provides a wide variety of colorful characters. To begin with, Danny Trejo is brilliant as Machete, and as a result, we’re willing to follow him to the ends of the earth, or to a pool hosting a couple a naked woman. De Niro is great as he channels a likeness of George W. Bush into the despicable Senator McLaughlin who’d just as soon shoot an immigrant as look at them. Jeff Fahey has mastered the deep voiced villain without overselling it (Christian Bale, take note), and Don Johnson’s contribution as Lt. Stillman is every bit as despicable and spot on as De Niro’s McLaughlin. It’s always a pleasure to see Cheech Marin on screen, and his performance as Padr, the priest who knows exactly what to do with two passed out naked women in the back of a hearse, is not something you’ll soon forget (they even manage to sneak in a weed joke). Even Tom Savini makes an appearance, it’s like a mini From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) reunion.
This might be all good a well, but what about Lindsey Lohan? She holds her own here, and looks good doing it, although her part doesn’t require a lot of her (she’s a heroin addict who spends most of her time naked, I’m not going to take the cheap shots, but you can), she still brings something worthwhile and entertaining to each of her scenes.
Machete shares similarities with Rodriguez’s 2007 grindhouse outing Planet Terror, including the worn-print-shown-at-drive-ins look. The babysitting twins return, only this time as hot twin nurses, and one of my favorite characters is back, Dr. Felix (Felix Sabates), who, just like in Planet Terror, is all too eager to discuss the more graphic aspects of his chosen career with a smile on his face and a skip in his step.
If Rodriguez made a promise to entertain with the original faux-trailer for Machete in 2007, in 2010 he’s returned to collect on that promise, and he delivers, with blood, sweat, and breasts.
Machete is out in UK cinemas 26th November 2010.
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Writer: Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Shea Whigham, Lindsay Lohan, Cheryl Chin, Daryl Sabara
Runtime: 105 minutes