WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Don’t like? Watch the movie first.
Back to getting some of my reviews written/posted
Machete was the first of the fake trailers from the movie Grindhouse to be made into a real movie. I thought it was BS the first time I heard it was getting made, especially with the number of big name stars that was gonna be in it. But it proved true.
Machete is a former Mexico federal agent turned renegade. After he fails an assignment in Mexico, leaving his wife and daughter dead, he illegally immigrates to the US to make a living. Enter a senator who hate illegals, the border patrol team he has wandering around killing those trying to cross, and a “businessman” who wants this senator dead. He hires Machete to kill the senator and then double-crosses him. Then you find out the whole operation is working together and connected to the drug lord from the very beginning that Machete hates.
It’s got a lot to it for a plot. There are tons of characters and many of them play a role in what happens to Machete after he gets picked for this assassination job. There are a few little detours, especially for sex, but they don’t let the plot get lost. It would be hard to get this plot lost actually. It’s at once too vague to ever lose what’s going on and too big for a long detour around it.
This may have something to do with the direction. Robert Rodriguez directed this one. He also directed one half of the Grindhouse movies, Planet Terror. Quentin Tarentino directed the other half, Death Proof, and you could definitely tell the stiles. While I like Tarentino, he tends to let his plots get very, very lost in the middle of them. Rodriguez, not so much. So his direction of the movie probably played a definitive role in the plot not getting lost during some of the detours.
It’s done in the style Grindhouse was done in as well. Grindhouse was so named because it called to mind the old “grindhouse” movie theaters. Theaters that pretty much only showed exploitation and horror films of low quality. Grindhouse and Machete are done in that same B movie style: low budget commercial film that’s not an arthouse or porno flick. So there’s lots of blood and gore and impossible things happening and a seemingly low quality and low budget feel to the film.
And boy does it do some laugh out loud impossible shit. Seriously, you can’t take this movie too seriously because it turns all the killing into something funny without being a black comedy or satire of any kind. You are supposed to take this seriously, but like a true B movie, you just can’t. There’s one part where Machete seriously takes out a dude’s intestine from his body and uses it to repel down a building and into another window on a different floor of the same damn building. It was ridiculous on a lot of levels.
It also sets the movie in Arizona and released the first trailer on Cinco de Mayo, right about the time Arizona was passing that law that lets police look at your papers with “reasonable suspicion” that you are an illegal immigrant (i.e. you’re just the right shade of brown.) Now, most of us figured the trailer was a fake, and it kinda was, which was why we didn’t believe the movie was really coming out. But that aside, the trailer pretty much addresses that illegal immigration issue, as does the movie, so the setting was really nicely done. Especially as a political stance against that law. Way to be sneaky there, Mr. Rodriguez.
And oh boy does it have a loooooong cast of characters.
Danny Trejo plays Machete, a character originally created for Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series (Machete is the kids’ uncle.) He is a typical bad-ass. Doesn’t talk a lot, means what he does say, and is pretty kick-ass in a fight. You know he’s not going to lose no matter how broken and bloody he gets.
Robert De Niro plays the senator that hates illegal immigrants and is running for re-election with some really shady stuff going on behind the scenes. He’s a bad guy in this but he’s not exactly a bad-ass bad guy.
Jessica Alba plays an immigration officer for the FBI that helps Machete once he’s been double-crossed into finding out who’s running this whole operation. She starts out by being on a case to find an illegal immigration network and ends up helping them once she finds out the other side of the coin. Also, Machete bones her. It needed to be said.
Michelle Rodriguez (sexy, sexy woman) is Luz. Also known as She. She’s the woman running the illegal immigration network that Jessica Alba is investigating. She’s trying to be the little person fighting against big government. It was refreshing to not see her die in this (because she dies in a lot of things she’s in) and Machete bones her too. Man’s a pimp.
Lindsey Lohan plays one of the bad guy’s meth addicted daughters (oh look, a natural role for her!) She’s really kind of minor and only gets much notice because 1) she’s Lindsey Lohan and 2) Machete nearly bones her too. You act like I was kidding when I said pimp.
Jeff Fahey is Lindsey Lohan’s father. An aid to the senator running a drug ring and hiring assassins to do what he wants. He plots the senator’s assassination with Machete as a publicity stunt and double-crosses Machete so that the senator doesn’t really get killed and they can pin the assassination on the senator’s hard stance against illegal immigration.
Don Johnson is the border vigilante hired by Fahey and De Niro to kill illegal immigrants as they’re trying to cross the border
Stephen Segal of all people is the ruthless drug lord running the show. He doesn’t exactly have a lot of the bad-assery he did in his early films but he plays a pretty cold-hearted bad guy who really, really wants Machete dead, especially after he finds out that he’s who Fahey hired for the senator’s mock assassination.
Only other person worth mentioning is Cheech Marin, who plays a priest that’s related to Machete and doesn’t end well. He’s a bad-ass priest though. Definitely another one of those moments where you can’t exactly take the movie as seriously as it wants you to take it.
I told you the character list was f-ing long man.
Final Thoughts: the movie gets a 4/5 at least from me for being entertaining and trying to do something original in this terribly unoriginal Hollywood. It’s ridiculous, it’s action-packed (lots of shooting and explosions) and lots of gore. If you liked Grindhouse or love a good, cheesy, action B movie, then you’ll like Machete.
PS: There appears to not only be a Machete sequel coming out (Machete Kills that Rodriguez has already written) but a movie coming out this year based on a Grindhouse fake trailer that they showed when it was released in Canada: Hobo with a Shotgun (Now released.) I can’t wait. Rumor has it that Rob Zombie is gonna direct a version of Werewolf Women of the S.S. (he’s already done a song about that fake trailer) and Eli Roth is gonna do Thanksgiving. THAT one I just can’t wait to see!