Movie Review: Machete

By Russell Baillie

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Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Superior schlock from Tarantino's Texan buddy.

Danny Trejo carries the film well, despite minimal dialoque. Photo / Supplied
Danny Trejo carries the film well, despite minimal dialoque. Photo / Supplied

Talk about a guilty pleasure. It's nasty, nonsensical and further evidence for the case that Robert De Niro will say yes to most anything these days. Yes, even a movie starring Lindsay Lohan and Steven Seagal in this film's two funniest bits of stunt casting.

But Machete sure is savage Z-grade fun, even if it also wants to say something significant about migrant Mexican "illegals" in the US among its many trashy attractions.

Which, actually it manages to do. There is one great rousing line - let's not spoil it here - proclaimed by Jessica Alba, a US Immigration Officer who gets to reconsider whose side she is on.

Though the explosions, the decapitations, the shootings, the craggy features of Danny Trejo in the lead role of an ex-Federale named after his weapon of choice, do tend to distract from its political-satirical undercurrent.

Machete sprung from the fake trailer Tex-Mex director Rodriguez created for the Grindhouse double feature with Quentin Tarantino.

But unlike Planet Terror, his film in that overbaked duet, Machete is really quite entertaining and often hilarious. And despite its peculiar star-studded-ness - surely there was room somewhere for Chuck Norris too? - it relies largely on character actor Trejo to carry the film with brute charisma, much the same way the Gubernator did before the English lessons. He grunts as everyone else explains the film around him. Works out for the best really.

Having been brought to his knees by Seagal's south-of-the-border drug kingpin, Machete skips to Texas where he's hired as an assassin by Jeff Fahey, a political henchman to De Niro's redneck aspiring senator.

Only, as history shows, shooting at politicians from upper storeys in Texas can get you into all sorts of trouble.

And soon Machete has hooked up with ... well possibly every woman in the cast, one of whom is also an underground revolutionary going by the code name "She", which, here, rhymes with "Che".

Seagal seems to be under the impression he's in a very serious samurai film, which adds to the fun.

So, too, do set-ups like a hospital scene in which a doctor casually mentions the human intestine is 10 times the length of the human body. Which seems like an over-estimation, yes, but the next inventively gory scene shows just why so much extra innards are required.

It's a movie that's got far more guts than brains. But that doesn't stop Machete hacking its way straight to your funnybone.

Not everyone's cup of tequila, no, but hilarious proof of what happens if you do mess with Texas.

Cast: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michele Rodriguez, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Rating: R18 (graphic violence)

Running time: 106 mins

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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