Written by Limara Salt
23 Tuesday 23rd November 2010

Despite the relative failure of Grindhouse, the exploitation style collaboration between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, it opened a door of creativity that has lead to Machete. Originally one of the fake trailers released alongside 2007’s Grindhouse, Rodriguez decided to extend it to a feature length film which must be seen as a somewhat brave choice. The Grindhouse series failed critically and commercially with the attempts to successfully cross the deliberately dodgy, trashy style over to mainstream cinema were futile. So, does Machete make up for the disappointment of three years ago or just add to the pain?

In short, it works but isn’t the tacky masterpiece some would’ve hoped for. Machete (Danny Trejo) is an illegal immigrant and former federal officer turned renegade on a mission to find a kidnapped girl. During this endeavour he crosses paths with some corrupt officers, a drug lord (Steven Seagal), and witnesses the murder of his wife and child in the most cartoonishly graphic way imaginable.
Three years later and still heartbroken by the loss of family, he wanders aimlessly through Texas looking for work before a local businessman Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) informs him that corrupt Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) is on a mission to keep Mexicans out of America by sending them back or killing them as they try to cross the border. Booth offers Machete a suitcase full of cash to kill McLaughlin and reinstate Texas as a place for immigrants to work. Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) is sent to find Machete to get to the bottom of the corruption infesting the streets. Elsewhere we have his “holy” brother Padre (Cheech Marin), the badass one-eyed Shé (Michelle Rodriguez) and Booth’s troublesome young daughter April (Lindsay Lohan), who has a thing for guns.
If this all sounds a bit frantic and mental don’t worry, it’s supposed to be. Re-creating the 70s exploitation style was always going to be difficult and for the most part, Rodriguez and his team have done all they possibly could. The script is hammy and laughably stupid, the plot is simultaneously overworked and all over the place and at any given time you know there’ll be some gratuitous flesh all over the screen. Given that the lead character is named after an enormous knife it’s clear that there’s a lot of slicing and dicing to be had.
Heads are lopped off, knives are thrust through numerous sternums, blood lies across the room and inexplicably slim women walk around with machine guns that weigh three times what they do. It’s ridiculous and knowingly foolish. But once you forget the fundamental problems with this film and accept them for what they are, there is a lot of fun to have watching this.
Unfortunately there isn’t quite enough. For a film that puts Robert De Niro alongside Steven Seagal, there should be a lot of humour and light hearted foolishness to make the overlong running time fly by. Worse still, despite the blood splattering trashiness it can at times be quite dull. More silly lines and characters would’ve helped and it seems as if Rodriguez held back slightly in order to appease those who criticised his earlier Grindhouse efforts.
While not entirely perfect, Machete is stupid, ridiculous, rammed full of cartoon killings and quite possibly some people’s ideal Friday night movie.

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