Danny Trejo is Machete. Let me say that again in case you missed it – Danny Trejo is…Machete. Let’s get it right people, it is not pronounced “Ma-shetty,” it is pronounced “Mah-cheh-tay” and it stands for many things. First and foremost, it stands for the most outrageously over the top movie since Black Dynamite. You can even describe Machete as a much more violent, Mexican version of Black Dynamite. The big difference is that this movie, while hysterical, is unintentionally funny. Can you recall the last time you laughed heartily at multiple beheadings? I am assuming that you are not a psychopath so your answer was probably “never,” but you will when you watch this movie. The funny thing about Machete is that people thought it was a fake trailer that aired with “Death Proof,” and there is a slight truth to that. The full story runs along the lines of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” just with a higher quality end product. Machete has been in development (at least mentally) by director Robert Rodriguez since 1995’s Desperado (which also featured Trejo). Trejo was always the actor Rodriguez wanted to play Machete Cortez and you will enjoy every minute of this vision coming to fruition.
Machete is a tale of legends, betrayal, revenge, love, war, justice and Machete. In case you haven’t already noticed, this review will feature the word “Machete” in completely unnecessary abundance. Machete is just that badass that saying his name creates sound effects like a cracking whip or thunder, every time you say it. Go ahead, say it – “MACHETE!” Make sure you say it with strength in your voice (la fuerza) and soon it will be part of your everyday common speech. Yes, Machete is a ridiculous movie that does not take itself serious at all. Everything about it is over the top: The violence is ridiculous, there are commercials in it that are on par with the ones you see in RoboCop, and you get to see how a girl carries her cel phone while she’s naked.
Machete details the later exploits of legendary federale, Machete Cortez, pretty much the only honest cop left in his organization. He finds out that he’s the only one when he tries to save a girl and runs into his old partner Torrez (Steven Seagal) and is left for dead after having to witness some seriously traumatic murders, those of his wife and young daughter. As horrible as it sounds, I was already laughing at this because Steven Seagal has probably starred in about 85 movies that started similarly. The story then opens up to a scene you would normally expect to see at your local Home Depot and madness ensues for a good hour and a half. Machete must learn that he is not in this fight alone because the people love Machete, the people need Machete and the people will follow Machete into one of the most insane showdowns you will ever witness. There is nothing new here story wise: hero is betrayed, hero gets girl, girl gets in trouble, hero saves the day and the girl. What makes Machete shine is Rodriguez’ execution and his ability to put together a cast of “why the hell are these people on screen together” actors for true cinematic alchemy that created pure gold.
The cast literally took this movie to another level. Danny Trejo oozes Machete the way Razor Ramon used to ooze machismo, chico. You can easily see why this was a dream that Rodriguez would not let go of. Machete walks the Earth for the single purpose of eliminating scum and this film has some great, scummy villains. Robert De Niro plays Senator McLaughlin, whose campaign to get re-elected centers around closing Texas’ borders to Mexican illegals, referring to them as parasites, cockroaches and terrorists. His right hand man is Booth, played by Jeff Fahey who funds McLaughlin’s campaign with drug money. Let’s not forget that he is an unconscionable killer and his plan to get the senator re-elected is more than a little questionable. Also, he wants to bone his daughter. Lindsay Lohan is said daughter and to prevent a lawsuit, all I will say is she plays a very convincing Lindsay Lohan as April Booth, aka “the nun with a gun.” The “good” senator also hangs with Don Johnson, aka Lieutenant Stillman, who leads a militia hell-bent on killing any and all border hoppers. This trio of turds are all silently under the control of Steven Seagal (Torrez) who provides their money, drugs and guns. I think every character in this movie could at least have a short film just about themselves and it would all tie into Machete.
Now we take a look at the good guys who for some unknown reason are not named Machete. Michelle Rodriguez is Luz, aka Shé, taco stand owner and leader of “the network.” She’s sort of a Mexican Harriet Tubman and the network is an organization of Mexicans that have made it into the country and back each other up to make sure they stay in the country. She is at odds with Jessica Alba, who plays Officer Sartana (La Migra!) Luz considers Sartana a traitor to her people since she helps keep illegals out. They have two things in common: they both want justice and they both love the Machete. I was a little lost on the scene where Shé used some kind of Mexican ninja magic to heal Machete’s wounds (she rubbed an egg on his head then cracked it and left it under the bed), but hey, this is Machete’s world, you just don’t ask too many questions. Rounding off the cast is the always amazing Cheech Marin. I am not personally a weed smoker nor have I ever been, but this guy is definitely one of my heroes and “Padre” was so badass that only Machete could possibly have been any more hardcore than him. I swear, they need to make up a new Oscar category and give Rodriguez the award just for best casting.
This film was amazing. From the intentional low definition look of the film grain treatment to the often terrible puns and one liners like “Machete don’t text.,” you are doing yourself an injustice if you do not see this movie. Machete ranked third in this weekend’s box office charts (opening weekend for Machete) where it trailed The Expendables and Takers, respectively. Now I have seen Stallone’s film and I am telling you there is more action and more satisfaction in Machete. I have not seen Takers and I have nothing at all against T.I. (actually like the dude) but honestly – are you really gonna go see Takers over this movie? Another bank robbery movie over Machete? I guarantee you that just hearing Torrez’ speech at the end of the flick will give you more entertainment than the other two movie combined. Machete will put hair on your chest and make your testicles finally drop, and that’s if you’re a woman. If you are a man, it will make you man up and punish your enemies as you find creative uses for the newfound knowledge that the human intestine is 60 feet long. It’s Labor Day, you have to go to work or school tomorrow. Make sure you do it as a real man.