Machete (2010)

Rating: B-

Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Star: Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez

Another feature spawned from the trailers included in the Grindhouse double-bill, this had a great deal of star power, and does an admirable job of capturing the spirit in question. It’s also wonderful to see Trejo as the central character, rather than just a villainous sidekick. He plays a Mexican federale, left for dead by drug-lord Rogelio Torrez; he escapes to America, where he is hired to assassinate a prospective senator, who is intent on fanning anti-immigrant sentiment. Ah, but this is at the request of powerful American business interests, who are unhappy at the prospect of having their supply of cheap labour dry up. Machete is turned into the patsy, and goes on the run, where he is helped by an immigrant activist (Rodriguez) and an American federal agent (Alba), who want to see justice prevail, rather than merely the letter of the law.

It’s not a bad stab [hohoho] at the field, though is probably a little more polished and less exploitative than I’d have liked – it’s painfully obvious, for instance, that Lindsay Lohan’s nudity is entirely body-doubled, for example. The whacks at introducing socio-political commentary is both painfully earnest and – as a legal immigrant – borderline offensive; it’s something “true” grindhouse rarely attempted, or at least, it flowed more naturally from the situation than we get here. On the other hand, there are some moments of impressive excess, such as Machete’s use of an enemy’s intestines as an impromptu rope, and almost all the cast go at their roles with energy and gusto, meaning it’s fun to watch for the vast majority of the running-time. If it does feel more like Hollywood ‘playing’ at being grindhouse than the real thing, the results are still a refreshing blast from the past. I would prefer to see Werewolf Women of the S.S., however.