Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Film: Machete ***
Release Date: Out Now
Certifcate: 18
Running Time: 105 mins
Director: Ethan Maniquis & Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal 
Genre: Action
Format: DVD
Reviewer: Adam Wing

The Tarantino/ Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature was a mixed bag, but Planet Terror was a whole lot more fun than Quentin’s overlong road rage horror Death Proof. If you’ve experienced Grindhouse as it’s meant to be seen, then you’re already aware of the hilarious mock trailers that separate the two pictures - Machete was probably the best of the bunch (though I still have a soft spot for Thanksgiving).

Rodriguez regular Danny Trejo stars as the cleaver-wielding Mexican, double-crossed, left for dead and out for revenge. The trailer proved so popular, not least with Rodriguez, that a return to Grindhouse territory was inevitable. Teaming up with long-term collaborator Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriquez returns to the world of Machete, bringing a dynamite cast along for the ride.

Rodriguez wastes no time out of the blocks, and the opening stampede is quite possibly the most entertaining part of the movie. Trejo hacks off arms, legs and heads in over-stylised fashion. It’s bloody, it’s fun and it delivers on its promise of breakneck chaos. We’re introduced to chief bad guy Torrez, a return to big screen action for long time MIA superstar Steven Seagal.

We all know he’s put on weight, but I for one have missed his presence and it’s great to have him back. Lets hope Stallone can get him onboard for the proposed Expendables sequel. Machete witnesses his wife’s murder at the hands of Torrez and the promise of OTT action is almost too much to bare - as things turn out, it’s definitely too much to deliver.

Three years later we are reintroduced to Machete working as a labourer in Austin city. Hired by shady businessman Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a right-wing Texan senator (Robert De Niro), our favourite one-man Mexican army finds himself the victim of a set-up. Forced to go on the run, Machete meets up with a host of quirky screen creations ready to set your world on fire.

Michelle Rodriguez continues in her quest to appear in every action movie going as an underground revolutionary, Jessica Alba appears as a hot-as-hell immigration agent, and Cheech Marin reprises his role from the trailer - it’s a who-who of Rodriguez regulars but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Don Johnson shows up as the local sheriff and even Lindsay Lohan takes time out to appear as a... well, she’s pretty much topless most of the time. Either that or a nun - it works for me.

Much of the above takes place in the opening act, so it’s a shame that Rodriguez is unable to maintain the adrenaline-pumping pace of the first thirty minutes. Machete doesn’t exactly take itself seriously, but it does raise some concerns about US immigration policy, and the mid-section plods as a result. The scene in which a bad guy's intestines are used to swing out of a broken window is positively insane; it too arrives in the opening half hour, and sadly nothing that follows lives up to the insanity and inventiveness of the opening act.

Trejo continues to amuse, especially when spouting hilarious one-liners like “Machete don’t text”, but Machete drags its heels for far too long, and only a top notch cast like this will see you through. Planet Terror didn’t let up from start to finish, but Machete runs out of ideas pretty fast - as if it was based on a two-minute trailer, or something. It soon becomes apparent that Machete isn’t going to stay the distance, no matter how much you want to love Trejo in the leading role. The initial assault is promising enough, but in some ways, it’s also the films undoing.

You’ve got to love a film that puts Trejo in the driver's seat, but for all its good intention, Machete bores when it should’ve soared. There’s a lot of good to be found here, but Rodriguez makes you work hard to find it.

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