Inspired and expanded from a fake trailer that accompanied Grindhouse, Today’s movie is Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 exploitation film, Machete. It’s basically a deep fried Twinke of a movie. It’s shallow, it’s vulgar, and that’s exactly what it wants to be. It’s also a whole lot of fun.
It’s clear that the entire point of the whole endeavor is just to have some fun. I’d probably call this movie stupid, were it not so fully and utterly without pretense. This is a movie about hot girls getting naked, bad guys getting getting violently dispatched, and a singular bad-ass at the center of it all.
Danny Trejo stars as said bad-ass, Machete Cortez. A disgraced former Mexican Federale living in Texas and working as a day laborer ten years after his wife was brutally murdered by a ruthless drug lord (Steven Seagal). Machete finds himself drawn into a ridiculous scheme involving a group of violent border vigilantes, (lead by Don Johnson), a xenophobic state senator (Rober De Niro), a wealthy businessman who wants him shot (Jeff Fahey), the businessman’s drug-addict daughter (Lindsay Lohan), a priest with a checkered past (Cheech Marin), and a taco truck proprietor who is semi-secretly running a underground support network for illegal aliens (Michelle Rodriguez). Meanwhile Jessica Alba plays an up-and-coming ICE agent trying to investigate the situation from the right side of the law.
The plot is full of contrivances, and mostly serves as an excuse to splash as much prop blood as is humanly possible around the set. Again, this is the whole point. It’s not like the movie is trying to make a point. It’d have been easy for the filmmakers to try to take a pot-shot from the gutter by getting political, on one level the whole movie is about a contentious political issue, but that’s not really what it’s about. The fact that it’s contentious and thus provides a source for tension matters, but it could easily have been another issue. At the very least they largely refrain from getting partisan, (the nut job-dirty politician is explicitly referred to as an independent, for example), because obviously Rodriguez and co-director Ethan Maniquis) have the good sense that one way to ruin a good mindless thrill ride is to all of a sudden get smug, and annoy half of your potential audience.
Machete isn’t a great movie in the traditional sense, but then, it never sets out to be. What it is, is pure grown-up cinematic fun. While I’m sure it’s not for everybody, I certainly think that it’s well worth seeing.