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Machete review

REVIEWS - MOVIES

He's as tough as a Klingon crossword, and mad as hell to boot...

Danny Trejo as 'Machete' (2010)

Since Machete is the latest offering from Robert Rodriguez, director of such visceral delights as From Dusk Till Dawn and Desperado,  I was expecting blood, guts, makeshift deadly weapons and big-ass explosions even before I took my seat. I wasn’t disappointed.

The character of haunted ex-federal agent ‘Machete’ was dreamt up by Rodriguez in the early 1990’s on the set of Desperado, when he noticed that the movie market lacked a Latino action hero. Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s homage to B-Movies, Grindhouse, featured a fake trailer starring Danny Trejo playing an assassin seeking revenge for his murdered wife. Demand for this mythical character to be made a reality was such that Rodriguez finally succumbed and did his worst.

Machete tells the tale of an ex-federal agent who escapes from Mexico to Texas after being left for dead by Mexican drug baron Torrez (Stephen Seagal sporting a suspicious Spanish accent). After being mistaken for a run-of-the-mill worker by corrupt businessman Booth (Jeff Fahey), he is roped into a plot to assassinate a Senator (Robert De Niro) with ‘interesting’ opinions on the immigration of Mexicans into the US. Machete is framed for the crime and becomes a wanted man before setting out to expose the web of deceit and prove his innocence at the same time.

Trejo, famous for his - let's be honest - ugly face, has been playing bad guy roles for years (Con Air, Desperado, Heat). However, this is the first time that he has taken on a lead role and he takes to the burden with ease. I’m not sure that I have ever seen anyone sport long greasy hair and a leather waistcoat - adorned with multiple knives - with such finesse. You can’t fail to become an instant fan as Trejo effortlessly seduces both ICE Agent Sartana (Alba) and Taco stand owner Luz (Michelle Rodriguez). There were actual whoops of joy from my fellow film-goers when Trejo used the intestines of a victim to swing out of a window to freedom. Plus, he always refers to himself in the third-person and spits out deathless corkers such as “Machete don’t text”.

The cast is superb. Rodriguez is clearly of the same thinking as his pal Tarantino when it comes to casting hot women in powerful roles which involve them wearing very little and firing huge guns. De Niro plays the racist Senator spectacularly, and I’m pretty sure that at times he is channelling George W. Bush, much to the audience's amusement. Cult movie stoner Cheech Marin takes on the role of Machete’s brother, and he may be making movie history as a priest who is particularly skilled at blowing peoples heads off and smoking giant joints – some things never change.

The entire cast seem aware of the irony in the film. That is, with the exception of Lindsay Lohan. As the slutty, junkie daughter of Booth, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is clued up on Lohan’s private life that she has been cast as herself. The lines that she delivers are done so without any awareness that she is the butt of the jokes. Despite this, I do have to admit that there was something thoroughly entertaining about watching her don a nun’s habit and shoot a few people.

If you enjoy tongue-in-cheek humour which skirts dangerously close to the line, gratuitous violence and completely inconceivable stunts, then Machete is for you. If however, you like your action realistic and your dialogue intelligent then maybe give it a miss…and stop taking yourself so seriously.

4 stars

Machete opens in the UK on November 25th 2010


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