Machete review

Banana Rating: 4 out of 5

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.