Danny Trejo stars as Machete, an ex-Federale agent who gets caught in a political assassination plot. Left with no options, he takes to the streets and starts a revolution.
Based on the mock trailer from the double-feature Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez pulls out all the stops in bringing this B-movie to life on the big screen. If the Expendables played the campy action movie straight, Machete indulges the genre with massive special effects, lots of blood and gore, and unabashed sex appeal. The bloodshed and body count is so excessive that it makes Stallone’s summer blockbuster look like Toy Story. Expect lots of cringe-inducing moments, most at the hands of the hero’s favorite weapon. There are moments of absolutely hilarious uses of human anatomy throughout the movie, which makes me wonder if it should be labeled as part comedy. While some of the more obvious digital effects can be distracting, most of the film’s work is strictly practical, leaving a much stronger impact on the audience. The movie doesn’t shy away from tits, either. Embracing the sex appeal that made action movies through the 70s and 80s so popular, there are hefty amounts of nudity and mostly fully clothed lady shots for the horndog demographic. It never crosses the line into gratuitousness, and manages to stay relatively tasteful. The mood of the film is kept pretty high and energetic thanks to a fantastically fun soundtrack provided by Chingon, Rodriguez’s own rock band.
While not the deepest plot in the world, Rodriguez makes it work with a great cast of character actors, from Robert DeNiro to Jessica Alba to Steven Seagal. Trejo does an amazing job in his first leading performance; he was born to play Machete (or rather, Machete was born to be played by him!). Michelle Rodriguez also gives an impressive showing as a leading lady, playing well off of her scenes with Alba and Trejo. One-liners and hero shots abound, giving an epic scope to what you expect to be a pretty small story. The characters are all fairly flat, but supremely entertaining regardless. Everyone has their own quirks and moments of badassery, fleshing out their world in signature Troublemaker Studios style. It’s refreshing to see everyone willing to get their hands dirty in a movie like this, really giving all the characters time to shine.
Trejo plays great as an action hero, and the quality of the fights are equal parts brutal and absurd. Limbs, heads, and bodies go flying from the start, setting the tone of violence for the rest of the film. It would have been nice to see Seagal’s Japanophile villain in action more, but his showdown with Machete is still immensely entertaining. If you’re a fan of violence taken to ridiculous comic book style extremes, you absolutely must go see this movie. It’s fun, fast, and one hell of a ride.