Today: April 15, 2024

Machete

Robert Rodriguez is one of those filmmakers you can’t help but
admire. He is the epitome of the independent spirit, with his love of
genre movies, and his one-man studio in Texas – although he does tend to
delegate a lot more these days. His latest film is another homage to
grindhouse movies, and the mexploitation films, such as El Mariachi, that made his name. Now he has teamed up with many of his regular players (Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez) alongside cult stars such as Steven Seagal, Dan Johnson, Jeff Fahey and Tom Savini, and Hollywood A-listers (or ex-A-listers) Robert DeNiro and Lindsay Lohan (who spends her screentime either naked or dressed as a nun with a gun) to bring long-time character Machete to the big screen in his own movie.

Most people seem to forget that Machete first appeared in the Spy
Kids movies in a somewhat more benign form than he did in the Grindhouse
“fake trailer”. However, from the outset, this is a far more
adult-oriented Machete we are seeing as, from the opening scene, he
slashes his way into the drug baron’s house with the titular weapon to
chivalrously rescue a naked woman, only for her to extract her mobile phone from one the only hiding places left on her body (it must have been on vibrate) to call the boss Torrez (Seagal)
and have Machete cut down. Of course, Machete survives, or the movie
would have been shorter than the trailer, and turns up on the Tex-Mex
border looking for work with the rest of the illegal “wetbacks”. While
this healthy “black” economy is going about its business, it is being
closely monitored by immigration agent Sartana (Alba). It is also being helped by taco truck cook Luz (Michelle Rodriguez, who, unlike a lot of the production staff, is not related to the director). When dodgy businessman Booth (Fahey) offers Machete a case full of cash, in one of those offer-you-can’t-refuse scenarios, to shoot Right Wing Senator McLaughlin (DeNiro), he finds himself embroiled in a complex conspiracy that brings him face to face with Torrez for the final (over-the-top) showdown.

Aside from the excessive violence and gratuitous nudity, it is a
convoluted tale of political corruption, conspiracies, drug-running,
revenge and social commentary on US/Mexican migration policies, but
because the violence (escaping on an intestinal chord) and everything
else (street rods bouncing down the road) is so over the top, the deeper
issues are not really at the forefront, although they are still serious
issues being addressed. The trouble is, it is hard to take them
seriously when you are laughing out loud at the extremity of the implausible on-screen action.

This is supposed to be another homage to 70s grindhouse/Mexploitation
films, in the same vein as his project with Tarantino, however
Rodriguez eschews the filmic effects that were added to the previous
co-production (except in the title sequence). This decision makes sense
as it is clearly a contemporary film, and not set in the 70s – a mobile
phone secreted in a body cavity is a give away for a start. What it does
retain is the sensibility of the genre but updated into a modern
setting. This is very much a blokes’ film and the misogyny, objectification of women and graphic violence
may upset the fairer sex, however there is no shortage of strong female
characters who help save the day, to offer some balance. It’s just a
pity that it has to be released in the cold damp winter because a
drive-in would be the ideal place to see it (if they still exist
anywhere in the world).

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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