Machete
What health plan do I need for this kind of care?

Theatrical Release Date: 09/03/2010
Directors: Ethan Maniquis & Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Shea Whigham, Lindsay Lohan, Daryl Sabara, Tom Savini

15 years ago, writer/director Robert Rodriguez remade his breakthrough film “El Mariachi” into the English language “Desperado”. While filming, he came up with the idea for making a separate feature film around a character akin to Danny Trejo’s, who threw plenty of knives at Antonio Banderas in that one. This idea got put on the shelf as other projects came about and while collaborating on the “Grindhouse” double bill, he continued to explore the character now known as Machete in a fake trailer that played between the features. Thanks to such an overwhelmingly positive response, he decided it was time to make it work. Hence, now the world can (and should) see “Machete”.

It’s clear from the trailer (either the original “fake” version or the actual one for the feature) that “Machete” is meant as a B-movie. It very much echoes a lot of the 70s action films, rife with stereotypes, full of bloody/gory/amazing action, and showcasing a protagonist who beds all the ladies, kills all the guys, and does it all with style. Sure, it’s over the top. Sure, it’s cheesy. Sure, the acting is corny (sometimes by choice, others because of the actors’ abilities) but it all works to create this glorious fusion of elements that should have audiences grinning like idiots when they leave the theater.

While Danny Trejo may not be a household name, he’s been in roughly 200 films and even less than avid film goers will recognize him. Here he’s finally scored the lead role, and between his amazing charisma and Rodriguez’s script and direction, it’s created a new film hero that has the potential to land himself in classic icon territory. Trejo just exudes cool, all the while presenting this tough exterior that should have even the most hardened criminals thinking twice about a confrontation.

The rest of the cast is equally perfect for the task at hand. Whether it’s Robert De Niro playing a slimy politician, Cheech Marin as a shotgun-wielding priest, or Steven Seagal rocking both a shiny sword and a terrible Mexican accent, all of their contributions sit so well in the world that Rodriguez (and co-director Ethan Maniquis) has created. That’s not even mentioning the lovely ladies (which include Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan), on hand not only for falling into Machete’s bed, but also to kick a little ass themselves.

Now sure, some of the cast couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag. However, since Rodriguez is making a B-movie, it works for the betterment of the film as a whole to witness the terrible job Alba does in delivering the Malcolm X inspired rallying speech (I don’t want to ruin it by giving direct quotes). And what really takes “Machete” into inspired territory is that within all of this craziness, Rodriguez manages to deliver a social message as well.

In the wake of the recent Arizona law concerning illegal immigrants, this couldn’t have come out at a better time. Although some of the political rhetoric in the film is direct, the environment in which all of it is laid out allows for humor to prevail – as characters weigh in on the pros and cons of Mexicans crossing the border without visas in order to work as a cook, maid, nanny or whatever other profession they can find where the boss looks the other way. And while that may sound like you’re getting lectured, none of it comes across that way.

Simply put, “Machete” is a hilarious, blood-soaked, nudity-filled romp that is easily in the top two or three films of the year for pure entertainment’s sake. And keeping in mind that I try to base ratings on whether the film works within the genre and delivers on the film makers’ intentions, this earns a 5 out of 5. Maniquis and Rodriguez deliver on the promise stemming from the fake trailer and if you thought “The Expendables” was good fun, you’ll absolutely love this one.