One part Grindhouse style knock off, three parts political immigration diatribe, note that this movie probably won’t play all that well in certain parts of Arizona, and one part Michelle Rodriguez looking really, really good comes Trouble Maker Studios and Robert Rodriguez latest exploitation send up ‘Machete’. Oh Michelle, why you gotta look so good and be so hard all the time? We still haven’t fully recovered from Michelle bouncing around in 3D IMAX in Avatar… but enough about Michelle and the fact that she won’t return any of our phone calls here at the FCU, just interview requests is all… because we are gathered here today to discuss ‘Machete’ which is a damn good time watching some quality fake exploitation and observing peoples heads getting blowed clean off. I mean it’s not ‘Black Dynamite’ fake exploitation good, but it’s still pretty damned entertaining.
Machete Cortez, as played by arguably the hardest working man in the history of Hollywood, Danny Trejo, is the hardest, meanest, ugliest Federali in all of Mexico and he’s about to save a damsel in distress from the evil clutches of the completely evil Mexican drug kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal). You may find it odd seeing Steven Seagal playing a Mexican, but if Eli Wallach can do it, why not Steven Seagal? Regardless of his intentions, Machete’s efforts go all to hell resulting in his family being dead and Machete burning to death. At least in theory.
A few years down the line Machete is just a lowly Texas day worker and is in this country illegally when he is approached, purely by chance, by the completely evil Mr. Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate the completely evil Senator McLaughlin who is dead set on passing all kinds of laws to close our borders and evict whoever happens to be in this country without proper papers. McLaughlin also likes to patrol the Texas borders with the completely evil Sheriff Stillman (Don Johnson) and blast illegals with high powered rifles. Considering that this nation relies heavily on cheap illegal labor, Booth can’t have these laws stiffened which is why he needs this senator to take a dirt nap.
Machete reluctantly agrees to do this thing, but of course it’s all a setup and now my man is on the run and he’s looking for revenge for those who would do him wrong. Again. But he’s not alone in this quest as he has Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) the Mexican
Harriet Tubman on his side providing shelter, he also has the worlds hottest and inappropriately dressed immigration agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) assisting Machete in exposing the conspiracy, and not to mention his blood brother Father Padr (Cheech Marin) blowing peoples heads off in the name of the Lord.
Eventually all of this has to lead back to Torrez, who is behind all of this nonsense, who really isn’t all that surprised that Machete isn’t dead. But he’s going make sure he’s dead this time around as he makes a special trip to Texas to finish what he should’ve finished years ago. Heads will be blowed clean off.
At its core ‘Machete’ is simply a good old fashioned exploitation film filled with violence and boobs and blood and plenty of insane over the top action. A man swinging to safety using another man’s intestines is a movie that really isn’t all that dead set on taking itself all that seriously. The performances in the movie were about as over the top as the movie itself featuring a laundry list of really good to legendary actors who clearly were having a lot of fun playing cartoon characters, with Don Johnson and Robert DeNiro appearing to be in a personal competition to see who could chew up the most scenery in the shortest amount of time. I think Sonny Crockett might’ve won that one. The sideburns pushed it over to his side but it was really close. Danny Trejo was a slight variation of the same character he always plays but that works wonders for George Clooney and it worked perfectly here for Trejo who made Machete plenty badass, plus he got to lay up with Rodriguez, Alba and a completely naked Lindsey Lohan who I think got herself a work release to make this movie. And we would be remiss to mention FCU hall of fame member Steven Seagal who played the best fake Mexican since somebody thought it was a good idea to make Al Pacino a Mexican in ‘Carlito’s Way’, and also provided possibly the best death scene since Yaphet Kotto went out like a champ in ‘Truck Turner’.
But then there’s the politics. For a movie as silly as this one is, the politics are deadly serious no matter what Robert Rodriguez says in interviews. Contrast the politics in this movie with the ‘politics’ in Black Dynamite which consists of a kung fu enabled Richard Nixon spiking malt liquor with a chemical to shrink Black men’s dicks. That’s some pretty damn silly politics for a silly fake exploitation movie, which is probably why that worked so well in that movie. However new hardcore immigration laws, vigilante patrolled borders, underground networks and the eventual rising up of the masses… that’s pretty damn serious. It’s just that these concepts tend work much better in a ‘serious’ movie, say like ‘Crossing Over’ but here the politics basically just get in the way of a good time. You would probably have to go all the way back to ‘Sweetback’ to find a movie that combines the politics of racism with crazy exploitation style violence and sex the way ‘Machete’ does, but Melvin van Peebles was deadly serious from jump with Sweetback and he owns it. Robert Rodriguez on the other hand is skirting the issue of his own movie. Come on brother, I’ll stand by you but you got to own it first.
All that aside if you’ve seen the redband ‘Machete’ trailer, then that will let you know exactly what you are getting with this flick, only to the power of ten and this isn’t just a good thing but a great thing. You’re going to have to deal with the politics along the way, no matter what Robert Rodriguez says in interviews, but I’m thinking it’s worth it, especially for anybody who likes these kinds of movies.