Machete stands as a tribute to nothing more or less then just how much fucking fun the movies are.
Yes perhaps it overstays its welcome but its never for lack of trying. And even if like eating an entire package of mini candy bars it leaves you with a hell of a sugar headache, well it was fun while it lasted. A giddy raspberry of a movie, it cements Rodriguez’s status as the king of neo grindhouse.
Machete is the story of Danny Fucking Trejo (Given name) who when he… aw hell you know what? Just watch this.
Looks awesome don’t it? Machete opened Grindhouse for a reason, its such a concentrated gauntlet of insanity, such a relentless rush of exploitation fan id, that by the time Rose McGowan and her go gos hit the screen the crowd was already well warmed up. You could have shown slo mo footage of puppies frolicking in the field after that and still have the crowd go wild.
But of course that’s half of (OK a good 7/8ths of) the fun, the compression of it all. And while Machete can’t quite keep that brutally relentless pace going for its entire runtime, it damn well tries. From the opening where Danny Trejo quarters a man’s head and a woman pulls a phone from her vagina, before Steven Seagal in a truly deranged performance gives a long rambling monologue that sounds like it was culled from the outtakes of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. To the climax where Lindsey Lohan shoots Robert DeNiro, and a man is crushed by a low rider, Machete is wall to wall insanity.
Rodriguez’s secret as a director has always been the way he takes the sting out of his carnage through sheer audacity and creativity. In another movie the sight of a man’s genitals rotting off, (or for that matter being pulled off) or being ripped apart limb from limb by a pack of wild beastial vampires, might be distressingly grim. But Rodriguez always makes it clear that he’s just as shocked as you are by these horrendous turns of events. There’s an odd sense of, well innocence to the whole thing. He can’t believe he’s getting away with it either.
His other, perhaps even more underrated aspect has always been his skill with actors. He might not be a traditional actor’s director, but in both his adult and children films he’s not just able to create these worlds. He’s able to get people to act as if they’re in them. Which is no mean feat considering the crazy shit he likes to pull. Machete is no exception, I’ve already praised Seagal, who is seriously like Missouri Breaks crazy in this thing, but this is the first time I’ve seen De Niro look awake since Ronin. It might not be a great performance but at least it looks like he knows a camera is there and the accent(s) is a hoot. Lindsey Lohan embraces the spirit of things, though grrr… that body double gets annoying. Yes I know its part of the joke, but must it be at our expense? Don Johnson rips into it as a walking bag of sleaze. Michelle Rodriguez has never been hotter proving herself to be, along with Milla Jovovich one of the last genuine B Movie Queens. And Jessica Alba is completely adequate!
But towering above them all is Danny Trejo as Machete. What more can I say. Words are inadequate, the poetry is all there in his face.
There he goes, the last of The Warren Oates, to remind us all what a hard man looks like. The end cockteases the promise of Machete Kills, and Machete Kills Again (Though it misses the great opportunity to end with a fake trailer, what began as a fake trailer).
I’m holding you to that Rob.