Totally insane and totally awesome.
Machete is about a federale agent who winds up working as an illegal day laborer in Texas after his family is murdered by his former boss and a local drug kingpin. Then one day our guy gets contracted to assassinate a State Senator, the whole thing ends up being a setup to boost the Senator’s approval ratings, and so our blade enthusiast sets out for revenge against the sonsabitches who hired him and tried to kill him, and then go take out that giant-coated bastard who offed his family while he’s at it.
If you saw Grindhouse, if you saw Desperado, if you saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico, you’ll know damn well what to expect from Robert Rodriguez’s latest trip across the border. This is an exercise in gratuitous violence, excessive nudity and saying “Fuck you, sirs” to the suits in the Southwestern United States who are hellbent on keeping those Mexicans in Mexico for the sake of political gain. And I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I think that is one bitchin’ idea for an action movie.
So Robert Rodriguez isn’t exactly a name that comes to mind when I start thinking about my favorite directors, but if there’s one thing I admire about the guy, it’s that he sure knows how to turn it up to 11. I remember hearing him talk about Planet Terror back when it first came out and how his biggest priority when making a movie is coming up with that special something that’s gonna drop jaws in the trailer and put asses in the seats for the long haul. For that movie, it was Rose McGowan’s gun leg, and for this movie, I’m thinking it was Danny Trejo flying on a motorcycle with a minigun strapped to the handlebars. If you’re getting hung up on the physics of that image or how wildly impractical it would be to have an automatic rifle for a prosthesis let alone try to fire it at someone, you’re asking the wrong questions.
I, for one, effing love Danny Trejo and any excuse to watch him in his first big leading role a stone cold killing machine named Machete Cortez is just the kind of thing that will put my ass in a seat. From the moment I first saw him chuckin’ knives at Antonio Banderas in Desperado, I’ve been counting the days ’til he got his due. He is such a fucking badass, it is so cool to see an action star who isn’t white or Jason Statham, and for a guy who used to be a criminal and an addict back before his movie career kicked off, it looks like karma’s been awfully generous to Danny Boy over the years. He doesn’t have to do a whole lot outside of scowl, stab fools and sit back as half-a-dozen women try to jump his bones, but he looks like a boss doing it and, what can I say, he’s flat-out perfect for the role.
Well played, Mr. Rodriguez. That’s how you cater to your target audience.
But aside from Trejo, this whole cast is a freakin’ rip.
Steven Seagal is hilarious as our drug kingpin, Torrez; Cheech Marin is the man as Machete’s shotgun-toting brother, Padre Cortez; Lindsay Lohan kinda sends up her own absurd self as horny brat-turned-heavily armed nun, April; Jeff Fahey rocks his gravely pipes in a big ol’ way as the Senator’s right-hand man, Booth; Michelle Rodriguez kicks some major ass as immigrant freedom fighter, Luz; Jessica Alba does her thing as federal immigration agent Sartana; and Don Johnson of all people is solid as immigrant hunter No. 1, Von Jackson. It’s this bizarro concoction of has-beens and A-listers that have no place being in the same movie, but it all works and it just adds to the appeal.
The best example of this being how Rodriguez somehow, some way managed to get Robert De Niro on board as our anti-immigration advocate, Senator McLaughlin. Man, it has been a long time since De Niro’s done something that hasn’t sucked ass or required him to make “Focker” jokes for two hours, and I am so happy he didn’t pass on this role. You think of De Niro these days, you don’t picture him plugging people left and right or running through a firefight decked out in a day laborer’s outfit, but like I said, it just adds to the appeal. So much fun, it’s great to see De Niro taking a page out of Alec Baldwin’s notebook by lightening up his image for a change, and it’s sweet to have him swearing like a mafioso sailor again.
But as good as this ridiculous cast is, they’re just a part of why I dug this movie. Folks, this thing is shameless, everyone attached knows it, and it is a riot to behold. Just a shit-ton of action that’s all freakin’ NUTS, a great sense of humor that would have had me howling in the theater, and I’m all about movies that know how to have a time without taking themselves seriously. I was prepping myself for disappointment because I feel like a lot of other bloggers around these parts were underwhelmed by this, but whether I’m in the minority here or what, I’m a total fan and I can’t wait for the two sequels.
I was really tempted to give this movie an 8 because it really was a total blast, but the thing that held it back was the realization that even with the promise of Danny Trejo tearing out someone’s intestines with a bone saw and using them to rappel out of a window, Machete isn’t for everyone. It’s one of those movies that you’ll probably love or hate before it even starts, and while it absolutely delivers for those who know exactly what’s in store, it just might repulse everyone else. Then again, you gotta watch this with a fistful of salt and cannonball into the bloodbath that everyone else is already splashing around in if you’re gonna get it at all. You follow those simple steps, you’ll be on the level, and, oh, what a enjoyable level it is to be on.
And that whole “illegal immigrant uprising” thing is too damn good to resist. B-movie gold right there.