When Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made their deliciously underrated throwback flick, Grindhouse, a fake trailer for a movie about an ex-Federale framed for an attempted assassination, opened the film. Three years later, Rodriguez releases the feature film formed around that trailer. Kept is its name, Machete, it’s star, Danny Trejo and its basic plot.
It’s fair to assume that, based solely on that initial trailer, Rodriguez expects most of us to dismiss the full-length Machete as ‘70s pulp trash. Yeah… and?
Rodriguez knows what he’s doing. He’s making a carefree, ultraviolent, gut-bustlingly funny film that involves little to no thinking. It’s in the same vein as Piranha 3D and The Expendables; If you can’t have fun with it, don’t even bother coming.
We’ve all seen Trejo before. With damn near 200 film and television performances over the past two decades under his belt, he’s one of the most prolific character actors working today. But here, as Machete, he finally gets his name above the title.
Years after witnessing his wife killed by a drug lord (a wonderfully bloated Steven Seagal) Machete tries to blend in with the rest of the illegal immigrants in a Texas town, getting whatever day-laborer work is thrown at him. But one day he’s picked up by a creeper in a suit (Jeff Fahey, yes, the Lawnmower Man) and offered some serious dough to take out an ultra right-winged Senator (Robert De Niro, having a blast).
But after Machete is framed for the near fatal shooting of the Senator, he seeks revenge to clear his name. With the help of babes like Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and, yes, Lindsay Lohan, Machete kills his way to the top, which results in a fantastically overblown showdown of Texas hicks vs. Mexican immigrants.
Of course the whole flick is completely over the top, but that’s the point. It boasts virtually no substance, but doesn’t for a second pretend to be something other than it is.
Fans need not be dismayed, as the final credits tell us, Machete will return… twice. As Machete cuts and stabs and shoots his way to the top, none of the bad guys can stop him, and Machete can’t miss. Rock ‘n’ roll. B