Originally positioned as an intermission in Grindhouse, the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino homage to 70s exploitation movies, Machete’s trailer encapsulated the Mex-ploitation genre with extra cajones, with man-mountain Danny Trejo ideally cast as a hitman set up for a crime he didn’t commit.
By expanding this three-minute segment into a full-blown action film, Rodriguez (co-directing with editor Ethan Maniquis) has constructed an absurdly violent tale that quickly goes so far over the top, there’s nowhere left to go. The story may be as plain as any run-of-the-mill thriller, but with a game all-star cast roped into the pantomime, there’s never a dull moment. Robert De Niro features as a crooked senator, Don Johnson as a racist sheriff, Lindsay Lohan as the senator’s nubile daughter, Steven Seagal as an über-gangster, Jessica Alba as an FBI agent, Michelle Rodriguez as a Tex-Mex underground leader and best of all, Cheech Marin as a turbulent priest. Throw in a silly climactic recreation of The Alamo with a variety of souped-up automobiles, and all the elements of a good trashy movie are in place.
That Machete is never quite the sum of such disparate parts is no surprise; whereas the trailer was sprightly and knowing, the feature struggles to re-invigorate the genre clichés. But there’s no lack of imagination or effort to the presentation; if you’re in the mood and have a few beers at the ready, Machete kills, and kills, and kills.
General release, Fri 26 Nov.