Machete stars Danny Trejo, made most famous by his turn as a knife throwing maniac in Desperado. Danny is the go to guy if you need a big, scary Mexican. Mainly because he’s a big, scary Mexican (he was born in California, but who cares?).
The film is a spin-off from one of the joke trailers that played out before the Grindhouse double bill of Death Proof and Planet Terror. What surprised me most, when scouring IMDB, is that the Machete character is also in all four of the Spy Kids movies.
Having not seen any of them, it boggles my mind how that plays out. When the Spy Kids race to rescue their parents, do they arrive to find their dad’s head sliced off, and Danny Trejo enjoying some alone time with Carla Gugino in a hot tub?
Probably not. So for that reason, I will never watch a Spy Kids film.
Nope, instead, Machete witnesses the gruesome death of his wife at the hands of a drug lord played by Steven Seagal. This all happens in the opening scene, a brutal display of gore and dismemberment, complete with shock B-movie editing, and grainy, scratch filled camerawork.
Once that scene is done and dusted, the fake film scratches disappear (a bit like they did in Death Proof). A bit disappointing, but I suppose their reasons might be that it becomes distracting after a while.
Following the death of his wife, Machete resurfaces three years later, and is hired to killer a senator. But is everything as it seems?
Of course not. From hereon, the plot broadens in scope. Some might say things become a bit muddled at this point, possibly weakening the revenge plotline. In a way, it does, and it doesn’t. B-movies tend to have one major failing: their plots are haphazard, and take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach.
Where a competent film might be more streamlined, a B-movie will overcompensate. They might pack in more scenes, more characters, more action, anything to try to paper over the cracks.
Whether by accident or design, Macheteis guilty of this. And yet this is at least one reason why it works. It’s aping the amateurish energy of the best B-movies. For all its ultra-violence, gratuitous nudity and outright cynicism, it has an oddly innocent charm to it.
The other reason is that the film has a pretty big roster of stars. Lohan, Johnson, DeNiro, Alba, Rodriquez (who even makes eye patches look sexy), they’re all clearly enjoying themselves which helps to elevate the movie to another level. The standouts, however, are the two who have long wallowed in B-movie hell themselves. Danny Trejo is good in the strong, central role. And Jeff Fahey, chewing the scenery with relish as a sleazy bad guy, is quite simply awesome.
Machete is born from a love, not a hatred, of trashy B-movies. And it shows.