Movie review: ‘Machete’ packs B-movie shenanigans with A-level cast
As chopped-off noggins roll around like careening bowling balls and as blood spews in ghoulish crimson fountains, “Machete” pushes the boundaries of on-screen action violence to the limits of ridiculousness and beyond.
To say writer-director Robert Rodriguez’s comic-book vigilante saga is madly, gleefully over the top is a gross understatement. In fact, it’s a vigorously in-your-face, gloriously gory, politically incorrect romp through B-movie exploitation territory, all gussied up with a campy Hollywood cast of stars, starlets and has-beens.
Serving as an unlikely star vehicle for Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo, whose pocked face and lumbering countenance scream anti-leading man, “Machete” realizes a long-held scheme by the Austin-based filmmaker to create a franchise that casts Trejo as a sort of Mexican Charles Bronson.
Machete, a renegade Mexican federale who dispatches bad guys with vicious sweeps of his broad blade, first showed up on movie screens in a garish “fake trailer” inserted into Rodriguez’s and Quentin Tarantino’s tandem 2007 B-movie tribute, “Grindhouse.”
And true to Rodriguez’s penchant for wasting nothing, the filmmaker responded to the wild popularity of that tongue-in-cheek trailer by dusting off a mothballed 1993 script and giving us a full-out Machete, a sort of brutish but decent modern-day Zorro who wields not a whippet-like rapier but instead swings a mean, meat-cleaving machete.
The story is mainly boilerplate stuff (with some sly satirical digs at so-called immigration reform and U.S. schizophrenia toward migrant workers from south of the border).
Machete is hired by a shady political hack (an oily Jeff Fahey) to assassinate the bloviating Texas state Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro in a wink-wink performance), who’s advocating an electric fence all along the U.S.-Mexican border.
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