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Machete (2010)

Directed by:

Ethan Maniquis

Robert Rodriguez

Rating: 8/10

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

My friend Alex laughed at me a few days ago because I asked if way back when Tarantino and Rodriguez were making Grindhouse, if they actually intended to make the films shown in the fake trailers. I mean, I knew at the time that those cheesy previews were all a big goof, but even then, I—and apparently lots of other people—thought that Machete had promise as a bona fide MOVIE movie. Boy were we right—if B-movie schlock, violence, dialogue, and action are your deal, then this right here is the peak to your mountain with the gloriously bad-ass Danny Trejo leading the way.

As the film opens, ex-Federale Machete (Trejo) has been double-crossed and, as such, is forced to witness the murders of his wife and child at the hands of drug baddie Torrez (Steven Seagal). Three years later, Machete has become a part of a low-key community of illegal immigrant workers, but as fate would have it, he’s hired to take out a rabidly anti-immigrant Senator (Robert DeNiro)—a plot that is once again a double-cross. Now, on the run from the law and lots of other bad guys, Machete is aided by his brother the priest (Cheech Marin), revolutionary Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), and rogue INS Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) as he clears his name, finds revenge, and leaves a hearty trail of blood.

Just as promised in its faux trailer, Machete is a cheesefest of blood, sexy girls, guns, action, and camp. Nobody goes in expecting high art, and yet, in some ways, that’s exactly what we get. Not Oscar-type high art, but a film that knows itself so well that every element from actor to gore is working together toward a common goal (even the fake political ads are well done, possibly because they could probably be real in a few months). Trejo IS Machete, and it’s about time he got top billing in an action flick, since I can’t imagine any other actor who commands such an instant respect and authenticity. Almost everyone else is great, too, though—it’s hard to say who “stole the show,” as Seagal, DeNiro, and Marin all seem to relish their roles. Even Lindsay Lohan rocks in her small role as boozehound turned gun-toting nun. The only stumbling block is Alba, who seems overwhelmed in her attempts at toughness, especially in her big speech on a car meant to inspire. It doesn’t—it just spotlight her awkwardness.

Overall, though, in a season full of action blockbusters, this is the very definition of where the genre comes from and is, if not a shoo-in for a Best Picture Academy Award, at least one of the most fun and exhilaratingly over the top rides of the year.

It's Got: Awesomme cast, Inventive kills, Funny

It Needs: Someone other than Jessica Alba, More Cheech, A sequel

Alternatives:

Desperado, Grindhouse, Kill Bill

Summary

Danny Trejo finally has a starring vehicle, and it’s a beautiful mess of blood, action, hot girls, and fun that never slows down long enough to lose its way.

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