September 3, 2010
Who else but Robert Rodriguez (and maybe Quentin Tarantino) could create a fake Mexploitation movie trailer, run it during another film, and have it turn into such a cult phenomena that he had no choice but to make the actual film on which the trailer was allegedly based? Perhaps even more memorable than the Now Showing feature "Grindhouse" itself at which it debuted, the trailer for MACHETE not only wet the palette leaving us begging for more, but created indelible images impossible to forget. And as if that isnft telling enough of the quality of Rodriguezf work and the faithful following of legions of fans, the end result is one of the funnest - and funniest - campy B-movies ever made - MACHETE. Making one even more appreciative of the film is its topical release given the current political climate and the plot.
Described as the "CIA, FBI, and DEA all rolled into one mean burrito", Machete is a legendary ex-Federale having earned his moniker thanks to his law enforcement tactics and handiness with machetes and other interesting cutlery. (Notable is that Machete has at least 44 blades on his vest at all times.) Always believing in the difference between right and wrong and dedicating himself to righting wrongs and pursuing evil-doers, unfortunately, Machetefs honesty and dedication find him double-crossed and on the wrong side of the track from Torrez, Mexicofs biggest drug kingpin. Murdering Machetefs wife and daughter, Torrez then turns his attack directly on Machete. Amidst a firestorm of gunfire and flaming explosions, Machete is left for dead.
Three years pass and Machete has miraculously reappeared in Texas. An illegal in America, Machete has kept a low profile, working as a day laborer seeking only to earn a dayfs wage for a dayfs hard work. But while he may seek to lay low, the anti-immigration movement is in full swing, making things hot for every illegal around thanks to a blood-thirsty vigilante named Von and the ever-popular Senator McLaughlin who is running for re-election with a campaign platform of "immigrants are cockroaches" and advocating electrified border fences. There is, however, a beacon of hope for the immigrants - The Network. Perhaps myth, perhaps not, rumors swirl of The Network is a modern day Underground Railroad, aiding all who want to cross the border into the land of free and the home of the brave. And rumor also has it that Luz, owner of a local taco truck, is The Networkfs mythical revolutionary leader, something she vehemently denies. But hot on Luzfs trail is ICE Special Agent Sartana who has Luzfs truck under surveillance, believing Luz to be the leader of The Network.
Out one day looking for work at the labor camp area to make enough money for a taco, Machete is spotted by a slick-looking, fast-talking, high profile vehicle driving man named Booth who invites Machete to come with him. Believing that Booth needs a septic job done, Machete is caught off guard when given the real nature of work needed - assassinate Senator McLaughlin. Under duress, Machete accepts the mission, and a $150,000.00 payment, which he immediately turns over to Luz to use as she sees fit, no matter what her business.
But, as we have all come to know, politicians, businessmen, druglords for the most part are pretty much all of the same ilk. Slimy to the core, greed, corruption and power are their watchwords, so it should come as no surprise to Machete when he is, once again, double-crossed as a second shooter appears, making Machete his target. And as we quickly learn, not only Booth is right-hand campaign manager to McLaughlin, but he answers to an even higher power.
Framed for the assassination attempt as a means to turn McLaughlin into a martyr, videos at the scene capture Machete with high powered rifle in hand and he quickly goes from anonymity to most wanted man in America.
Aided by Luz and a converted Sartana, Machete is not only out to prove his innocence, but find the puppeteer and eliminate him. Calling on the help of his brother, Padre, a reformed gunfighter now serving God as a man of the cloth, tables turn, the plot thickens, twists and turns and shifting alliances abound and a cadre of one-note character caricatures appear, fueling the escalating political fire and comedy.
Who would have thought that after 200+_movies and 30 some years in the business that Danny Trejo would emerge as the next action hero? I for one couldnft be happier. The most unlikely of leading men, Trejo is magnificent as MACHETE. Short on words but long on action and hot women who flock to him like therefs no tomorrow, Trejo is a sensitive powerhouse on screen. He brings this very soulful essence to the character that draws you deeper into the story than the non-stop action exploding on scene. And as for all that action, Trejo is amazing. Not new to the character of MACHETE, you may recall "Desperado" and even the "Spy Kids" films with Uncle Machete popping in. A character that Trejo has always loved and wanted developed into a feature film, he has waited a long time for this and I can think of no one more deserving for a part and performance this amazing than Danny Trejo.
Never a big fan of Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez, they both won me over here. Both playing kick-ass broads, they more than hold their own against the strength of Trejo. As Sartana and Luz, respectively, the two do the bulk of the heavy emotional lifting to convey what is actually very heartfelt political messaging without becoming preachy. Alba is particularly enjoyable with some the campier dialogue as she delivers it with an over-the-top earnestness that garners laughs without silliness.
Robert DeNiro gives one of his finest comedic performances as Senator McLaughlin. Wavering in and out of a Texas accent and wimping and simpering throughout, only adds to the gravitas of the greasy corrupt opportunist that McLaughlin is. A fun and entertaining performance. In appreciating DeNirofs work, one has to look at the performance of Jeff Fahey. As Booth, he is slime and corruption personified. Lusting for his spoiled buxom whoring daughter while married to a ditzy equally slutty wife, Fahey brings new meaning to decadence with Booth.
Joining in the fun-filled fracas is Steven Seagal as bad boy Torrez. I have never seen him actually spoof himself, but he does here and does it brilliantly. Cheech Marin, another Rodriguez veteran, jumps on board as Padre, bringing comedy and solemnity to the cloth and the film. And what could be more apropos than Lindsay Lohan as Boothfs daughter April, a spoiled rotten, drugged out, retrobative exhibitionist, who gets her own menage a trois time going with her mom and Machete. And yes, that is Spy Kid Daryl Sabara all grown up playing a white boy/home boy with a bunch of low riders.
Directed by the master of B-movie camp, Robert Rodriguez, and written by Rodriguez together with his cousin Alvaro Rodriguez, although it has been years in the making, the end result is well worth the wait. With ultra-violence at every turn (decapitations are deliciously fun), the incorporation and discussion of not just one hot bed topical issue but several, roots the film in reality. And although using immigration as its primary focus, the film speaks to injustice of any kind. But thanks to Rodriguezfs respect for the genre, while paying homage to its forebearers, and ratcheting up the violence to exaggerated levels, MACHETE celebrates humanity by retaining a comedic edge, elevating the fun and enjoyment factor. And its educational, too. I never knew there were so many uses for scalpels or how handy it can be to know that onefs intestine is 10 times the length of the body.
Kudos to Stunt Coordinator Russell Towery and his team who really had their work cut out for them filling the screen with stunt after stunt after stunt.
Over-the-top violence, explosions, gore, great special effects, a satiric script with a heartfelt message, surprisingly kick ass performances, a new hot action hero and a killer soundtrack by Chingon - it can all only mean one thing - MACHETE, the man, the myth, the movie. Balls out, no holds barred, kick ass fun.
Machete - Danny Trejo
Luz - Michelle Rodriguez
Sartana - Jessica Alba
Senator McLaughlin - Robert DeNiro
Torrez - Steven Seagal
Booth - Jeff Fahey
Padre - Cheech Marin
Von - Don Johnson
Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Written by Rodriguez and Alvaro Rodriguez.