Directors: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Originally introduced via a fake trailer for the 2007 double feature, Grindhouse, Machete was turned into a full-length film last year. With Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis at the helm, this had all the makings for a riotous throwback to the old-school exploitation flicks.
Machete stars the always badass Danny Trejo as Machete Cortez, a former Mexican Federale who has been double-crossed by corrupt politicians while working as a hitman. In his quest to get revenge, he becomes entangled in an intense conflict involving illegal immigration. The whole storyline is pretty ridiculous and probably too spread-out for its own good, but it sets the tone for gratuitous violence and all-around trashiness.
If you’re offended by gory deaths, excessive blood spray, and full-frontal female nudity, then obviously Machete is not for you. This is a film that revels in its excess, and loves every second of it.
For an exploitation flick, Machete has a pretty impressive cast. Steven Seagal is a brutal drug lord who killed Machete’s wife three years before the film’s events. Robert De Niro plays Senator McLaughlin, a corrupt politician who is vehemently against illegal immigration, often resorting to violence against those trying to cross the border. Jeff Fahey is his right hand man, filling in with the same role he had in the faux trailer. Jessica Alba is an Immigrations Officer who is trying to crack the underground immigration network. Michelle Rodriguez probably does the best job overall as the sexy “taco truck lady” who also happens to be leading the revolution. Throw in some hilarious bit roles from Cheech Marin (Machete’s priest brother), Don Johnson (a border vigilante) and even Lindsay Lohan (a junkie rich girl, not far from Lohan’s reality), and you have quite the eclectic cast.
And of course, it’s good to see Danny Trejo get his first lead role after countless small parts over the years.
Machete is good for what it is, no doubt, but it felt like something was missing overall. It almost seemed like the movie tried to do too much at once, and lacked some overall cohesion. It’s still a lot of fun with some great action scenes and hilarious one-liners, but I can’t help but feel it could have been even better. It will be interesting to see what Rodriguez comes up with for Machete Kills, the inevitable sequel.