‘Machete’ Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

machete review Machete Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Machete

Ever since the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse was released back in 2007, fans have been clamoring for a full movie version of one of the fake trailers that appeared with two films. That trailer was for a movie called Machete, starring Danny Trejo – an exploitation-style film in the genre of those from the early 1970s. It had guns, bloody violence, betrayal, and naked women – all shot in a grainy, film-scratched style.

Since this was a project that has been brewing in director Rodriguez’ mind for a very long time (dating earlier than the 2007 trailer), the fan-based push nudged him to create the feature length version of the trailer. Now depending on your point of view, the timing for the release of this film is either very bad or very good. With the illegal immigration debate raging hot and heavy right now, this film will probably benefit from its controversy and outrageousness.

If you’re into this sort of thing, the movie opens rather promisingly. We’re introduced to Machete (Danny Trejo) and his partner – they’re “Federales” in Mexico, fighting the good fight against the local drug kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal – yes, THAT Steven Seagal). Just as things seem to be going well for Machete, they take a turn for the worse – as bad as you can get if you’re a family man.

Everything about the above scenes screams cheesy, found-footage exploitation flick: The camera angles, color saturation, film scratches, decapitations, blood, naked woman, you name it. At this point I figured we were in for a real retro-treat.

Early scene spoiler alert






However from there we cut to a scene with a number of Mexicans crossing the border illegally that is incredibly outrageous (not in a good way) and brutal. A man and his very pregnant wife are stopped by a group of vigilantes in uniform (led by Don Johnson) and the senator. The senator guns down the pregnant woman in cold blood, then turns to her husband, says “Welcome to America” and shoots him dead.






End spoiler

Depending on your point of view you’ll either be outraged at the thinly veiled implications; you may shake your head “knowingly” imagining this is the way things are at the border; or you’ll say “Dude, whatever, it’s just a freaking movie.” Me? I was outraged – but it turns out that this film is so stupidly ridiculous that it really doesn’t make sense to get angry at it.

So cut to three years later and Machete is a day laborer in Austin, Texas. He hangs around looking for work near a food truck run by Luz (Michelle Rodriguez). Soon he’s picked up by a slick businessman type (a man named Booth, played by Jeff Fahey) who hires him (reluctantly) to assassinate a state senator (Robert DeNiro) who’s anti-illegal-immigration stance will be “bad for business.”

Machete ends up being the pawn in a plot to actually ensure that the senator is re-elected and he’s on the run – but of course he vows to get revenge.

From here the film consists of Machete trying to stay one step ahead of the goons who are coming after him. Along the way he’s helped by Luz, and eventually by Sartana (Jessica Alba), an immigration enforcement agent who has a change of heart by the end of the film – and in the end (of course) those terrible, evil oppressors get their due.

Where does Machete deliver? LOTS of bloody violence, mainly the result of limbs and heads being severed by our intrepid anti-hero. And faithful to those old 70s flicks, they don’t skimp on the female nudity, including a topless Lindsay Lohan (who essentially plays herself in the film – a wealthy, directionless, drug-addicted internet celebrity) and a quick scene with a nude Jessica Alba (shot creatively, so the naughty bits are out of site). Danny Trejo looks like a guy who you just wouldn’t want to mess with in real life, and I liked Jeff Fahey’s dead serious performance.

I got a kick out of seeing Steven Seagal, but what an odd casting choice for a Mexican drug lord… he’s not moving too fast these days, but we do see him engage in a bit of swordplay with Trejo at the end of the film. In opposition to Fahey, Seagal cheeses it up big time, mainly delivering the word “pandejo” throughout the film.

What didn’t work? Well political considerations aside – there was way too much space between the action scenes. If you can believe it, there wasn’t enough violence for this sort of movie. This isn’t a film carried by story or acting, trust me (not that you’re expecting it). It was disappointing when after the opening scenes they switched to standard cinematography instead of continuing the “grindhouse” film effects and shots throughout the entire film. The movie went on too long – after a while, considering the sort of film it is, one begins to lose interest because the in-between stuff is just plain boring. In a movie like this you’ve got to keep the action/craziness coming fast, furious and continuous. It would have been more effective had they tightened it up and cut it down to below 90 minutes.

So, populated with extreme two-dimensional stereotypes of Right-wingers who are against illegal immigration, will this film be controversial? Sure. Will it make people angry? Probably. But when you’ve got a film where a man escapes a hospital by gutting an attacker and swinging on his intestines like a rope, or lines like “I sell tacos to workers of the world. It fills their bellies with something besides hate” – how seriously can you take its political message (such as it is)?

In the end, you can probably save yourself an hour and 45 minutes and 7 bucks and just watch the NSFW trailer below, because you’re not really getting too much more than that out of the entire film.

You can see the original (very NSFW) trailer here:


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Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. Wow Vic, another mind-blowing 2.5 man. I haven’t seen it yet, but I guess I’m gonna have to trust you on this one.

  2. i liked it

    the late summer this year has actually been pretty good for corny action movies. Scott Pilgrim, Expendables, Pirahnas, and now Machete have all actually been pretty good.

    This are films that keep the audience cheering and laughing. This one is a bit on the stupid side but thats really part of the fun.

    A movie like this is like that one item on the Mcdonalds menu you love. you know its prossesed crap and bad for you, and even though theres much better food for you out there to choice from, you cant help but enjoy it from time to time.

  3. I’ll wait for DVD on this after reading the review, I was on the fence, but I was hoping for something a little more than Vic describes here.

    • im seeing regardless, been waiting TOOOO long. this movie is THE perfect escape for me.

    • DrSamBeckett,

      A lot of reviewers are giving it much higher marks than I did. Maybe poke around and read a sampling if you’re on the fence.


      • I trust your reviews Vic.

        • DrSamBeckett,

          Well we’ve disagreed from time to time so I thought you might want to look at some opposing viewpoints. :)


  4. I am going to have to disagree with the boss here. The movie did strike a few boring moments, but amidst the fantastic action, gore and one-liners. I hardly found myself dissecting the political message of the film. They absolutely made an effort to make the film about something. But it felt more like a parody of Southern politicians than American border control efforts. If you go in looking for the politics of the film is when you will notice it. The style of the film had me forgetting it was supposed to have a message.

    • im sure i’ll notice the camp/parody aspects of it, im not going to the film to see any messages, just dismemberments, good clean fun from an RR film that only he can deliver, now if we can sway him from Spy Kids and get him to do SIn City 2 damnit…

      • Sin City 2, man i want that film now!!! The source material is there, the actors will come, just make the damn thing!

    • Mike,

      You are SO fired!



      • ahahaha..he forgot the cardinal rule: dont cross the boss lol

      • ROFL get him vic attack. Lol

  5. Sorry, but Rodriguez swung and missed with this one.

  6. So Vic, nothin is clearly shown of Alba nude? Dang, Lohan doesnt surprise me though.

    • WallyWest,

      Well… let’s say it was enough to be… interesting. :)


      • Damn the hope that Alba might be nude was the only part of this film that even interested me at all. :( Oh well back to dreams

        • Daniel F & WallyWest,

          There’s a scene in the trailer for the film where the camera is sideways and she looks like she’s wearing a two piece bathing suit or underwear or something – that scene is in the film but she’s not wearing anything.

          For whatever that’s worth. :)


          • Thanks Vic, But it sounds like the scene wont be a good one knowing Alba vowed never show herself nude etc. Oh well, So be it.

  7. @ vic
    how great a role does seagal have in the movie – how long is he in it for, cause he’s pretty much the only reason i’m going to be watching this RR PoS.

    • jwalka,

      Seagal’s role is far more than a cameo in the film, but it’s not like he’s on screen for half the movie or anything. Fairly significant, though.


      • is he brutal like in his old movies ?

  8. I cant wait for this im going this weekend!!! So how much nudity/blood is there vic?!?

    • The Rickster,

      More than I’ve seen in any recent film in quite a while.


  9. I cant wait for this im going this weekend!!! So how much nudity/blood is there vic?!? And is there alot of action?!?

  10. My bro cant see this then thanks vic!

  11. @Vic

    Does Michelle Rodriguez flash any more skin then a half shirt shown in the trailer? Shes a seriously hot latin actress whom, IMHO is hotter then Alba and Alba is very hot.

    • BCC,

      She wears a leather, skimpy bikini top and very low cut leather pants in the film.


  12. @Vic (hit ENTER beofre I was done)

    The political contreversy about the film has as you know been brewing for some time, ever since that trailer that was directly aimed at ARIZONAS immigration law. Robert Rodriguez had (I’m told) took a second look at the script after all the heat they got in [very negative] responses to that trailer and supposedly he was going to make some changes to make it less anti-America over all and more about a man exacting revenge on some clearly deifned villians. Its sad to hear from your review that it sounds like they just couldn’t resist the urge to take cheap shots at the politics of the immigration issue.

    The movei could have very easily been just as effective by using a very different scene from the one you descibed wehere the Senator shot the pregnant woman. Its quite clear, after the earlier critciism the film recieved, as to what that scene was meant to suggest.

    That said I will almost certainly at least rent it on DVD if not catch it during a matinee simply because I like many of teh actros in it and look forward to the revealing lines of the actresses like Alba & Michelle Rodriguez.

    Thanks VIC

  13. Yeah I won’t be support this film.

    • Well look at that 790 we agree. I couldn’t dare support this film either.

      • 790, Daniel F,

        I can’t say I blame you guys, but let’s leave it at that.



  14. $7? Where the hell do you go to the movies at? Over here a movie will run you at least $11.

    • @Alex

      I don;t know if this is just in TEXAS or not but the AMC Theatre Chain offers a before Noon rate of $5 on any movie including opening day (there’s no 2 week waiting period). SO long as the movie start time is before noon (this menas movies that start at noon are excluded) you can get in for $5 for non-3D and non-iMax. If the movie has 3D or iMax then additional charges for these 2 bonus features still applies but those upcharges are applied to the base price of $5.

      While there aren’t many movie showings before noon, especially in non-major cities there are still a few at least on the weekends if not also during the week and so you can get in to see a film for $5 if your willing to go to a showing that early. This is the only way I go now so I can afford to get concessions (ever since AMC changed their policy about allowing outside Food & beverage).

  15. Honestly Vic I expected bad reviews for this film and it looked awful to me, but mostly I came to comment on the fact that you have had to do a lot of low ratings this year. At least it seems that way to me. Is it safe to say over all this year you have been disappointed with the general quality of films? The ratings just seem low in general to me. To be honest though I agree that this year has been crappy over all.

  16. Im seeing this tomorrow! Whoo hoo! Damn i wanted to see alba and michelle nude lol! Oh well…..

  17. One bad thing about this movie is how these so-called “Latin” actresses can’t even pronounce the word Machete. I don’t know exactly why this annoys me so but if you’re Mexican like I am it would annoy you too. I hate not being able to hate Jessica Alba at the fullest because she’s so hot.

  18. I’m betting there will be violence at some screenings.

    I would not see this with a packed theater. No way.

    • i’ll go see it in E.LA lol

  19. I would really hope this film tanks! It would be a big fat fu to RR and his pro race war film.

    All its going to take is a few stabbings. The weekends just beginning. Well see,,, if any film is a heath risk this year its Machete.

    • has AZ boycotted it yet?

  20. Anthony you realise Machete is playing in Mexico and other various South American countries.

    Its going to be like Star Wars in the hispanic community.
    Some of the movie posters down in those areas are written up with revolutionary overtones. A lot of people south of the border believe we stole the south west,,, la Raza,,,

  21. lucky im seeing it in a non-hispanic community here in SD, well, maybe not non, just less i guess, plus i’ll just go see it with my cousin Juan and his buddies lol

  22. OK, you guys are starting down a trail that needs to stop right now.


  23. Alex, if your talking about me, I totally don’t mind being called an idiot… 8-)
    I don’t know how long you’ve been commenting here but let me clue you in on something. I usually reply with a humorous wit and a touch of sarcasim.

    I’m not politically correct. I try not to offend but sometimes I speak like I would if we were all human. I don’t and shouldn’t have to censor myself because this group or that group gets offended by subtile ethnic references.

    I’ll leave you with this quote,,,
    “You don’t pull a community together by celebrating there differences”

    • 790 The Witt part is debatable.. Lol jK

    • youre ok in my book 790, i dont care what daniel says about you LOL

  24. Wait let me leave you with this quote,,, ok

    “You don’t pull a community together by celebrating their differences.”


    • *sigh* I don’t care about your political or racial standings, 790, nor your quotes, for that matter. And I’m definitely not offended. I’ve been a reader for quite a while, I just don’t post every second of every day, just when something tickles me just right.
      But I didn’t mean to sound mean with that idiot comment. I guess I should have added a smiley emoticon right after.
      I actually enjoy your comments here. I enjoy most of the regulars’ comments so don’t even worry about it. If anyone gets offended by a single post from a stranger in a website now-a-days, I consider THEM idiots. ;)

      • Did he get you under the arm or maybe behind the knee cap? Oh I know it was the belly wasn’t it?

        Kidding aside

        How is it possible to call someone an idiot and not intend for it to be mean?

        Nothing against you I’m just confused by that.

        • what happened to no name calling here LOL. and why the hell am i up so damn early on a saturday morning :(

  25. Thanks Ant’s. I don’t mind Daniel we have some things in common. I’m probably hated by over 60% of the readers here at least Daniel returns a comment. ;-)

    • not by me you arent. who really cares what everysays here anyway i know i dont lol.i try and return comments, unless i get tired of the one replying to my comments..i’ll usually let that person get the last word so they feel big and macho.

    • Lol 790 that’s only because I’m an egotistical a$$ hole with far to much pride to just let something go lol.

      • hahahaha. even though we rarely agree daniel, youre one of the ones here i actually like talking to

  26. Well I didn’t mean it like that Ant’s, I’m not lonely. Lol…

    What I meant was that I don’t mind getting negative feedback from Daniel. 8-)

    • lol i know. think im gonna watch Dangerous Days, if i dont pass out lol, we really should move this to open discussion too LOL dont want Vic to pop a vein

  27. Ant’s your gonna love Sleep Dealer, its a hispanic sci fi film and I love it!!!!!!


    Alex have you seen Sleep Dealer. It was produced in Mexico.

    • I have not, no.

      • Should I?

    • im sure i will 790, from what i’ve read up about it, sonds like my kinda film. go check out that Hobo With a Shotgun trailer on that thread 790, simply brutal.

  28. Anyone know what heritage Jessica Alba’s is?

  29. @ Vic

    Do you where i could send ideas for films to FOX? Particular ideas for the purposed X-men 4 that could be followed by a X5 & X6 ?

    • WallyWest,

      Fox isn’t going to pay any attention to someone out of the blue sending them story ideas.