By Dave Campbell | September 3, 2010
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis (co-director)
Writers: Robert Rodriguez, Álvaro Rodríguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan
Our story follows the exploits of a former Mexican Federale, codenamed Machete (Danny Trejo). Machete’s role as an officer of the law comes to a crumbling halt as he is double-crossed by his commanding officer and witnesses the murder of his family by Mexico’s leading drug lord, Torrez (Steven Seagal). Left for dead and with nothing else to lose, Machete seeks exile in Texas and becomes a day laborer.
Three years later Machete is randomly approached by a shady businessman named Booth (Jeff Fahey), and offered $150,000 to complete a hit job. Booth wants him to assassinate the xenophobic Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) of Texas who has been running a campaign denouncing illegal immigrants as “parasites” – complete with TV ads featuring roach infestations. Booth tells Machete that the senator must be eliminated because he threatens the supply of cheap labor. In the Senator’s spare time he patrols the Texas/Mexican border with sadistic minuteman Lt. Stillman (Don Johnson) sniping any Mexicans illegally entering the country.
At the same time, ICE Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) lets her presence be known to Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) who runs the taco truck where the day laborers congregate. Sartana accuses Luz of being the infamous freedom fighter SHE, who leads an illegal underground migration organization know as The Network. Machete’s plans to do the right thing soon fall short as he quickly learns that he is being set-up once again. Now an outlaw in the states and thirsting for revenge against both Booth and Torrez, Machete teams up with Padre (Cheech Marin), Luz/SHE, and the enlightened Sartana to wage war on those who have wronged him and too seek justice for all Mexican immigrants. They truly did f*ck with the wrong Mexican. Oh yeah, and Lindsay Lohan plays April, the slutty strung out daughter of Booth, who randomly has a life changing moment involving a nun’s uniform, uzis, and aspirations of vigilantism.
So what does Machete have to offer besides the awesome presence of Danny Trejo performing acts of brutal violence? For starters, Robert De Niro plays a sleazy Texas politician. That alone is reason enough to be interested. Beyond that we also get other iconic talent in Jeff Fahey, Steven Seagal, Cheech Marin and Don Johnson. But wait there’s more; for you fans of the ladies, Rodriguez doesn’t disappoint by giving us Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, and a plethora of lesser known Latinas who assault the screen with commanding talent and eye pleasing assets.
No matter how self indulgent Robert Rodriguez gets with Machete, he never takes himself too seriously which allows the audience to fully enjoy the wild and campy Grindhouse tone. The timely nature of the politics in Machete are a bonus and purely coincidental since the story originated fifteen years prior and filming began before Arizona’s 1070 became news. As fun as Machete is, it’s hard not to notice that the faux trailer seemed to promise a lot more. The story is filled with so many interesting characters that we sometimes forget who the focal point of the story is. Just like Grindhouse: Planet Terror and Death Proof before it, Machete is supposed to pay homage to the late night exploitation B-movies of yesteryear in all their bloody violence and gratuitous nudity glory. However, Machete left me wanting more of those defining genre elements, and ultimately more Machete. I want to know more and I want to see it push further. Maybe my wishes will come true in Machete Kills, or Machete Kills Again.
At any rate, it’s important that you know the following:
“Machete don’t text.” -Machete
“Machete makes onions cry.” –Danny Trejo
“When the cops pull over Machete, they try to get out of it.” -Danny Trejo