Title: Machete (2010)
Directors: Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert Deniro, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Jeff Fahey, Steven Segal, Don Johnson, Lindsey Lohan, Cheech Marin, Tom Savini
Beneath all its B-Movie madness, behind all its nudity, and its ‘R’ rated gore, behind what some might call its political incorrectness, Machete surprised me with its relevant themes. One look at the previews and you know you are in for over the top action and oneliners galore. So who’s to suspect that a film like this would actually have something important to say?
Many people downplay the film by saying that Machete is simply an excuse to show over the top action pieces and lots and lots of tits and gore, and in a strange way, they are right. But, I refuse to go with the idea that this is a completely stupid movie. On the surface, at first glance, that's what it might look like, that’s what it might sound like. But if you ask me, beneath it all lies a very important truth. The ‘system’ doesn’t work. Certain rules aren’t working, and they need to be re-thought. Of course, I’m talking about immigration laws in the U.S. and this idea that any foreigners need to be eliminated, like a decease, like a plague that’s spreading through out North America. What every happened to the U.S. being a “free country”? The land of the free?
Heavy Metal in Deed!
Machete tells the story of a Mexican cop (named Machete) whose wife is decapitated by a vengeful drug lord. After this happens, Machete vows to hunt down the ones responsible for his wife’s death and execute his revenge. Years pass and Machete goes to live to the U.S. He is trying to get a job, but so far, its proving to be an unfruitful affair. That is until a guy offers Machete 150,000 dollars to kill a U.S. Senator who wants to pass stronger laws that will keep any Mexicans who are trying to illegally cross the border out of the U.S. Machete smells trouble, but he needs the cash, so he takes the job. Little does he know he is being set up! The government arranged the whole thing so they could kill Machete and make it look like Mexicans are trying to kill The Senator, and blame it all on the Mexicans. Problem is that the bad guys fail to kill Machete, and he doesn’t take it very nicely when people try to kill him. So he goes on an all out revenge spree, where he teams up with a bunch of underground rebels to stop the Senator and at the same time avenge the death of his wife.
The character of Machete has been on the back of Robert Rodriguez’s head since the days when he was making Desperado (1995). He first met Trejo while shooting that picture and upon taking a look at Trejo’s appearance decided right then and there that Trejo should be making revenge movies, same as Charles Bronson did. So Rodriguez wrote a script for Machete but took his good old time to get it made. The fake trailer in Grindhouse (2007) sparked the publics interest for a film and boom, here we are today! This is Danny Trejo’s first starring role. Before Machete Trejo always played small roles that included killers, bar tenders, criminals, vampires and ex-cons. On Machete Trejo plays an anti-hero. He isn’t squeaky clean, he has no problems about slicing a bad guys stomach open and using his intestines as a means to bungee jump out a window. He was a cop who was done wrong, so now he’s become a vigilante of sorts. Taking the law into his own hands. The thing about having Trejo play Machete is that he simply looks the part. He looks like a Mexican you definitely "don’t want to fuck with". Nobody could have done Machete but Trejo; it’s the role he was born to play! Not bad for a guy who did 11 years in jail and then rehabilitated, turned his life around and became an action star! Not to mention the guy is doing all this while going on 67 years on planet earth. Talk about a late bloomer.
The movie satisfies and achieves all it sets out to do. Just what did it set out to do you might ask? Entertaining the hell out of you is the number one priority and it achieves this 100%. Comic book style action, over the top gore, lots and lots of nudity, funny characters, funny dialog, one liners galore and motorcycles with machine guns attached to them! There are decapitations, dismemberments, crucifixions and never ending shoot outs. Hell, we even have a bonafide sword/machete fight! There is never a moment where the film takes itself seriously; it’s all done very tongue in cheek. The guys and gals behind this picture simply wanted to put a smile on your face. I have to say it achieved that. People in the theater where giggling and down right bursting in laughter in all the right places of the film. We have chicks with eye patches and guns! Which reminds me that Michelle Rodriguez looks like a total bad ass on this picture! She is way sexier looking than Alba any day of the week. By the way, Michelle Rodriguez wearing an eye patch while shooting guns made me think of They Call Her One Eye, a.k.a. Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974). On that grindhouse classic, we also have a vengeful tough chick who shoots guns and wears an eye patch. But Rodriguez's 'She' reminded me of that film only visually, because Rodriguez’s character is more of a female Che Guevara, leading the people towards revolution. It is no coincidence that her name in the film is ‘She’, an obvious play of words aluding to the legendary Argentinian revolutionary Antonio 'Che' Guevara. Speaking of films that influenced this one, there was a scene in which Machete is looking at a table filled with weapons, trying to choose the perfect one to achieve his mission which reminded of John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981). In that film there's a similar scene with Snake Plissken looking at a table filled with guns. By the way, Escape from New York was one of the films that made Rodriguez want to become a filmmaker, so that connection makes sense.
The cast is one of the films main draws, it brings together an unlikely bunch of actors that you would never in a million years expect to see together, yet here they are working on this completely over the top movie. Did you ever think you’d see Robert Deniro working along side Steven Segal in the same movie? Nope! Yet strangely enough, it all works, because they all fit in their characters skin. Speaking of Steven Segal, he's really let himself go! On this movie he resembled Marlon Brando during his last days, when he got really chunky. And by chunky I mean fat! But he plays his character well, cursing in spanish all the time. Made me laugh. One of the funniest characters in the film was Cheech Marin (a.k.a. Cheech, from the Cheech and Chong Movies) playing Machete’s brother, who is also a priest! Machete asks for his help to kill, and Cheech is like “I’ll see what I can do!” and then proceeds to smoke a joint with Machete! One of the funniest characters in the movie no doubt. In one scene Cheech absolves Machete and then tells him: “Fine, I absolve you! Now get the fuck out!” Ha! Hilarious! That’s the kind of humor you’ll find on this movie.
Catholicism isnt taken too seriously on this movie at all!
The film speaks about the immigration laws, and the whole problem that this is causing in the United States. Mexicans pour into the United States every year by illegally crossing the border, they are employed by factories and companies who have no problem paying them less than minimum wages for their hard labor. They get treated like slaves. The companies do this, and the government knows it. Yet they do nothing about it because these illegal aliens do the hard labor that no one is willing to do, and for so much less! This saves companies millions every year. So if you kick these Mexicans out, who is going to do all these jobs that no one else will take on? I absolutely hate the fact that right now the U.S. is making it practically illegal to be a Latino. They are making it really hard in many ways for Latino’s to simply live in the States. It’s all part of the Xenophobia that’s eating the world. As far as Im concerned we are all citizens of the world. We are all the same, different colors and countries, but we are all humans living in one gigantic spaceship flying across the Universe, why cant we all just get along?
Nifty opening sequence looks something like this
Why is there such a thing as an “illegal alien”? Why is it such a hassle to go from Mexico to U.S.? Why does it cost so much? Why can’t it be simpler? I’ll tell you why, same as in this film: some Americans see Mexicans as a plague. They don’t see them as human beings, they see them as less. It’s sad living in a world like this, but that’s the way it is. That’s why I liked the films theme: if it doesn’t work, fix it! If necessary change; If change doesn’t come then fight; revolt. Which is why there are so many protests going on right now in many parts of the U.S. Machete touches upon a theme that is more important then its b-movie nature. Machete is the embodiment of Latino’s looking to be truly free, fighting for their rights. He is a true Latino anti-hero!
I really liked the fact that this movie addressed these themes with such conviction. It had no problems whatsoever in voicing the anger that is felt over the whole immigration issue. Jessica Alba out of all people gives the speech that best encapsulates the whole theme of the film: “We didn’t cross the border! The border crossed us!” I mean, I’m not saying that Machete is the most intelligent film ever made, because it isn’t at all. Machete speaks in one-liners, which kind of makes him seem uncapable of speaking complete sentences. Or maybe tough movie guys simply talk that way? Whatever the case, people don’t talk much in this movie; they shoot their guns. That’s the general vernacular spoken on this film. But beneath all that, I’m sure the filmmakers main objective was to vent out the frustrations about the whole immigration thing, cant say I blame them. Kudos to Rodriguez and crew for mixing a fun movie with relevant subject matter; even if it is hidden underneath all the tits and gore.
Rating: 3 out of 5