Back in Mexico Machete was the one man on the police force that would make grown man weep if they heard he was coming for them. He is tough, no nonsense, not squeamish when it comes to blood, and can get the job done. But one day things go horribly wrong and everything is taking away from him, leading him on a path of bloody revenge against those who have crossed him. Now mix in a whole bunch of racism and we’ve got ourselves quite the exploitation film.
Let’s face it, this type of film that pays homage to the qualities of a exploitative B-movie is not for everyone, and could easily create a love it or hate it divide in the audience. But before you write it off as something to pass on consider the possibility that you might not end up on the side of the line you would expect. Just take it from me, going in I wasn’t really expecting anything from this since any spooftastic film tends to rub me the wrong way. They tread a fine line because they can so easily take things a step too far if they haven’t just completely run across the line on the over-the-top side of things (there are too many lines in this paragraph), something that is hard to come back from.
Maybe it was because I wasn’t really expecting anything, or maybe this really is just an awesome film, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Machete is knee deep in the current border war between Mexico and the United States, taking full advantage of the ridiculous nature of it all. Robert De Niro plays a southern senator for the great state of Texas who is gunning for reelection with the promise to get those Mexican terrorists out of our country before Texas is made a part of Mexico once again by building an electrified fence. Everything he says is drenched in hatred for the infestation occurring, but he is just the face for it all. In addition to De Niro, Jeff Fahey and Don Johnson represent American racism at its height as some of the “underlings” for De Niro, who have their own plans for our southern neighbors. Each man does a great job playing up the ethnocentric mindset, bringing about performances that furthered the humorous presentation of these issues without becoming preachy. In addition to their ideology, be prepared to laugh whole-heartedly at tons of racial slurs, taco references, etc., and you can go back to being concerned with politically correct statements after the film.
It takes a real man to throw a gun aside, preferring a close range bladed kill; and that man is Danny Trejo. Trejo plays Machete, who quickly gets swept up in this battle when seeking revenge. He is full-blown Terminator in this film, taking bullets like it was candy from a baby and healing faster and more often than any human being has the right too. And boy does he know how to wield his weapon (eh heh heh…). There must have been no lack of hoses hidden on the actors in this film because the victims of Machete’s blade end up looking like fountains spurting out blood in sync with their weakening pulses as they crumple limply to the floor. And to elaborate on the other side of that double meaning, the men in this film come up short on the handsome ratings board, but this does not keep Machete from living every man’s dream by having every attractive woman in this film fall victim to his mystique, including Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, and Lindsay Lohan. Thankfully they aren’t just here for their looks, playing woman who are just as capable as the macho men in this film. Sure they might just be wearing a bra when doing so, but at least they aren’t damsels.
In the end Machete really is just a fun ride that finds the perfect blend of action and humor when presenting a story mocking the serious, topical issues of immigration, border protection, and full-blown racism. It is ridiculous and over the top, and I would have it no other way.
Final Grade: B