Add a few naked women to the movie poster of “Machete,” featuring Danny Trejo and his coat full of knives, and you have a summary of the film. The dialogue is outright cheesy, the plot is convoluted and the outcomes are predictable. The actresses’ costumes look like they were purchased at Spencer’s After Halloween Sale: cheap and slutty; the nude scenes are more than distasteful.
The trailer was right: Machete is “a movie like nothing I have ever seen.” It takes weird sexual fantasies, mixes them with weapons and explosions, and throws in a commentary on racism. But Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis’ “Machete” fails to bring wit or any coherent message into the mix of corruption, race and blood that comprises the plot, even if the movie is intended to be downright dirty. A 105-minute crime thriller, “Machete” stars Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba and Robert De Niro. It tells the story of a former Mexican Federale, Machete (Danny Trejo), now in hiding on the streets of Texas, where he faces the same corruption that he did back home. Throughout his struggle, most female characters hit on this badass Mexican hero.
Director Rodriguez went too far in trying to extend what was originally a fake movie trailer featured in “Grindhouse” (2007) into this film. Working backwards may have been the reason for a poorly developed storyline; if you have seen the previews, you have seen it all. Every scene features some sort of cliché action and includes several stock characters. The movie gives you a little bit of everything: a Lara Croft, a Padrino, a hypocritical priest, a dirty nun, an idiotic political candidate and even some naughty nurses. It seems all these characters are part of the plot for some lost satirical purpose. The action ranges from a crucifixion to Machete using another man’s intestine as rope. Every bit of goriness the viewer might expect to be spared is included; heads are chopped off and all.
The movie opens with two cops on a rescue mission. Even if one is able ignore the fake looking desert, the grainy screen effect introduces the film’s lack of style. From the beginning, the viewer is set up for the roller coaster ride of “what” and “are-you-kidding” that “Machete” is. And, for those who wish to watch the movie for its sexual content, don’t worry; it takes less than five minutes for a nude woman to appear. And if that is not enough, about halfway through the movie there is an unnecessary scene of Agent Rivera (Jessica Alba) showering. Despite their prevalance, the sexual suggestions are very PG-13.
Described by Rodriguez himself as “an exploitation film,” “Machete” discusses issues dealing with the U.S.-Mexico border, drug trafficking and government corruption. But every time one expects a moment of reflection on a serious topic, the action moves into an unrealistic fight scene.
At one point Machete is street fighting while eating a taco. Oh, and, of course, it cannot be left out that the “beautiful yet tough women” defeat the bad guys while sporting five-inch pumps. Despite this, it may be interesting to look at the movie in the context of Arizona immigration law. Within all the gory mayhem there is a message against racial profiling and deportation.
Rodriguez summarizes his own film as “clever.” Well, you decide: Does a revolution carried out in low riders sound clever? Theory aside, the best part of the movie was the adequate background music. But the Mexican rancheras are not worth the eight dollars.