Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro
Release Date: Out Now
Danny Trejo slashes limbs, gets the chicks and kicks ass as Machete Cortez in Machete. A Troublemaker Studios production directed by the original “troublemaker” Robert Rodriguez, along with Ethan Maniquis and written by Rodriguez and Álvaro Rodriguez, Machete serves as something of an extension to the fake Machete trailer seen in the Grindhouse double feature.
You may or may not have noticed that I have not referenced anything about the plot or premise for Machete outside of Danny Trejo kicking ass. The truth is that if you need to know more about Machete other than the fact that Danny Trejo kicks ass and that there are chicks in it, this movie is not for you. But if you must know, Machete is about trafficking immigration over the US/Mexico border, an assassination gone wrong, a mythical female revolutionary and a dangerous man with a dark past and a funny name.
Were I to go into any more of a detailed explanation, I fear I might begin to take it seriously, which the film clearly doesn’t want you to do. So yeah, Danny Trejo kicks ass.
The truth is this film doesn’t really stand alone and only really caters to anyone who is already a Rodriguez fan. It’s kind of an added chapter, almost a DVD extra to the Grindhouse double feature Rodriguez made with Quentin Tarantino. The problem is that this time there’s none of the edge.
The film is in no way surprising, and you get exactly what you expect out of it. This isn’t helped by the fact that Rodriguez’s homemade special effects kind of leave the film tame. It’s not that his low-budget ingenuity doesn’t often pay off, it’s just that, having seen what he’s done before and how he’s done it, I feel that this time round there’s no challenge for him. The same issue arose with Predators, where the proclivity for special effects and action subtracted from the experience.
There are still some funny moments and slick ideas in Machete, but they come far too infrequently. The concept and aesthetic choice for Machete aren’t what are stupid, it’s that they have much more potential and the end result is a very basic version of something that could have been put to better use.
Add to this the ‘serious business’ of the film’s heavy political message, which is incendiary and interesting in its own right, but completely fails to gel with ‘Mexploitation’ aesthetic. It aspires to be a pointless guilty pleasure and a heavy-hitting message film all at once, and doesn’t pull off either especially well.
In A Nutshell: Not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but not as fun as the concept promised.
– Seamus Hanly