“Well, there’s the law and there’s what’s right. I’m gonna do what’s right.” – Sartana, Machete (2010).
What can really be said about Machete? After watching it I still don’t honestly know what I can say about it. The film to me is like a lucid experience that just sort of happened.
Machete (Danny Trejo) lives a troubled life. His wife was murdered by the evil Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal) and now he seeks revenge. When the Republican senator, John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) is funding his campaign with money from Torrez, it’s up to Machete to stop him. He receives help from Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) a border patrol agent and Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) a taco stand person. What do you call taco stand people? Servers. I don’t know, it’s really not important whatsoever. The supporting cast also includes Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Lohan and Don Johnson.
As far as the cast goes it is surprisingly star studded. A lot of movies like Machete such as The Expendables (2010) always have such an ensemble cast. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Steven Seagal is actually quite good. He has some funny moments, especially towards the end of the film. Even better than that is the fact he’s doing a Mexican accent. I really can’t tell you why he’s doing that because to be quite honest I’m still not sure. There must be some logic behind it, maybe they thought it was funny. Let’s be fair, it was quite funny. But that’s not the point, why Seagal was doing that accent is beyond me.
The star of the film is Danny Trejo, who used to be a great action star. The key word there of course is “used”. As far as action heroes go Trejo is definitely past his prime. Films like From Dusk Till Dawn (1995) are just barely passable for him. He collaborates frequently with Robert Rodriguez, so the formula for their films in this does seem a tad tired. No, I don’t think he should hang up his action boots just yet, he’s still quite good. But when he’s working with actors that are thirty years younger than him, it’s just a bit weird.
As far as the rest of the cast go though, everyone is pretty solid. Robert De Niro plays a snivelling political character very well. By the end of the film he’s dressed as a Mexican trying to jump the border. Ironically meeting the fate that he had brought onto so many. He has a surprising amount of chemistry with pretty much everyone in the film. The only problem really is that I’ve no idea what the plot is trying to do.
When you think about plots for a film you can sometimes give a cognitive answer. But for this film, there just isn’t an easy answer to it. In between the shots of Machete blowing things up and breaking arms, there doesn’t seem to be a narrative. By the end of the film he rides off into the sunset with a motorbike and Jessica Alba and I’m not sure exactly how he got there. I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with Seagal. Honestly I can’t be so sure of that.
Honestly just parts of this film genuinely confused me. Michelle Rodriguez puts an egg underneath Machete’s bed. When he wakes up it’s a fried egg. Honestly it’s best not to question these things, isn’t it? I’m fairly convinced you could count this as a political drama given the subject matter of immigration.
Because this film is an action film, you can expect a great deal of choreography. I have to admit, the best example of the choreography in this film is from Machete’s brother. Padre Benicio Del Toro (Cheech Marin) was honestly the best part of this film. He gives a great performance in this film and to be honest it’s something every film should aspire to in an action sequence. The music complimented the scene extremely well. That’s not something this film does very often. So to see it use music and action so well, it was a genuine surprise.
Some of the cinematography in this film is pretty mediocre if I’m honest. A few of the action sequences do in fact look really good. There is a bit in this film where Machete uses someone’s intestines as a bungee cord. It’s one of those jump the shark moments that just sets the tone of the film so well. Quite honestly it’s one of those film moments you just never forget because of how wacky it is. It’s up there with Tommy Wiseau smashing up his apartment in The Room (2003). That’s how insanely stupid this film is. But it works, it works because of how ridiculous it is.
Danny Trejo as an actor is sort of what happens when you add a little more crazy to Nicolas Cage. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that mix. His B-Movie style of film is something that resonates with audiences all across the globe. However, when you take a step back and realise what Machete is as a product, you’ll definitely find that it’s a lot less fun than you had first anticipated. On reflection it does seem I’m remembering only the good parts. Considering it’s an hour and forty minutes, and most of that I can’t remember, there are some definite problems. The strong cast does make the good bits of the film work though.
Now, that’s not to say Machete isn’t fun. It’s a damn good bit of action and to be honest it’s pretty good in some parts. But being good in some parts just doesn’t cut it anymore. Should it fall into the category of being so bad it’s good? No, but to be honest it’s one of those films that you watch at one in the morning on the SyFy channel. Personally, I thought it went on for far too long and there wasn’t enough of anything throughout. It was cliche, sexist and a tad racist, but that’s what makes it such a great B-Movie action. Still, give it a miss, unless you’re drunk or have literally nothing better to do.