Film Review: Machete

Gloriously violent and at times hilarious, Machete is unabashedly good fun. The only thing that lets the film down is its political angle, which feels out of place in a movie such as this.

Machete, a former Federale agent, is hired to assassinate a US senator. When things don’t go according to plan, Machete embarks on a revenge mission, enlisting the help of a beautiful Mexican activist, and the interference of a beautiful US agent…

As a B movie, Machete works exceptionally well. The film exudes all the elements expected; overblown action sequences, gratuitous violence, trailer-worthy dialogue and beautiful women. Where the film is less successful is in its inclusion of the political narrative. Although mostly set in Texas, Machete is clearly taking to task Arizona’s recent controversial immigration law, which made headlines earlier this year.

While this is an issue evidently close to the heart of co-director and co-writer Robert Rodriguez, it seems at odds with the general tone of Machete. Although there is nothing wrong with B movies or B movie parodies having a comment, satirical or otherwise, on political events, Machete does this in a way that isn’t particularly smart or witty. The film would have functioned better as an all-out, ridiculous B movie homage, like Snakes on a Plane.

The idea of Machete first came to light in a fake trailer featured before Rodriguez’s double feature Grindhouse and Planet Terror. The character of Machete lives up to this early promise; he is tough and forthright, yet unequivocally a good guy. He very much plays the role of a superhero, even down to his Hulk-like assertion, “Machete don’t text”. Elsewhere, the film offers considerable amusement, particularly in Senator John McLaughlin’s ad campaigns.

The violence is Machete is almost relentless, but will most likely leave you crying out for more. This is because it is cartoon-like and superbly over the top; these scenes are enjoyable rather than wince inducing. Particularly imaginative is the hospital sequence, which is one of the highlights of the film.

The soundtrack to the film is bombastic, and perfectly fits the larger-than-life tone of proceedings. Effects are good, and even the title sequence is entertaining, a nod to the overall tongue-in-cheek nature of Machete.

Danny Trejo is perfectly cast as Machete; it is difficult to imagine anyone else in this role. Robert De Niro appears appropriately two-faced as the Senator, while Jeff Fahey brings nastiness as Michael Booth. Steven Seagal is suitably hammy as Mexican drug lord Torrez, and Michelle Rodriguez brings passion as Luz. The only letdown is Lindsay Lohan, who is stiff and unconvincing as April.

Machete is a very enjoyable film, betrayed only by its desire to be something more than this. Sit back, relax, and let the revenge commence.