‘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:

[poll id=”70″]

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Anthony
    No wonder u always let me comment last lol!

    Ok,so machete vs the american. That struck me while i was cleaning the theaters it was so funny u guys,i shouldnt say why,but u guys already know who was going in each theater…..

  2. The movie was about a 3 maybe 3.5 out of 5 for me. Some good action but all the political stuff detracted me from the film. Michelle Rodriguez, at least to me, is hotter than Alba….and she definitely needs to be an Expendable. :-)

  3. BTW i can tell AZ is boycotting this……but im going 😉

  4. What would have been great is if the studio had shot an alternate middle that the theaters could cut into the boring part. Then insert it after all the reviews came out. Made a viral overt enough and an outright advertisement with limited city play and spread it around, “The Improved Machete!” Call it studio payback for all the bad press…

  5. Just back from seeing Machete. Not a bad film. Id give it 2 1/2 stars. The beginning was somthing, especially with that nude girl whoever she was lol. You were right Vic about the Alba nude scene, was interesting, little more than previous films of hers. Michelle Rodrieguez was good, Steven Seagal was good till the climax. I dont wanna spoil it for anyone but it was lousy for his character. Don Johnson was good bad guy. And Lindsay Lohan, wow hope to see more of her in the sequels, and i do mean more,lol.

  6. Too long. Bad editing. No original trailer, grainy look. Quentin and Richard have used all their tricks and there is nothing new. The scenes are like a compilation of every Tarantino movie, think “what if we add, like..everything?” If you have followed these guys because they were off the wall and fresh you will not like this movie. De Niro’s role is terrible. If you have watched the trailers you’ve already seen most of the movie’s high points. A Hollywood studio would probably force them to return to the drive-in, original format used in Grindhouse. You could have cut 45 minutes from this film and it would be the same movie, just better. The script should be re-written to make the characters dynamic instead of cliche’. This is one of those movies where you can assume what will happen within the first ten minutes, from there on every scene is set up the same way with the same tired, overdone campy concepts. Waste of money and time.

    • Quentin and Richard?

  7. I have to say, what part of “illegal” immigration do some people not get. As a conservative I have to say that we conservatives love immigration. It is what our country was built on. However, I believe in “legal” immigration where people follow the rules and do not try to jump ahead of other people who are following the rules. From other reviews I have read:
    1. Robert Rodriguez does not know a lot about Mexican treatment of “illegal” aliens coming into Mexico from their southern border. It makes Arizonas common sense new law look like an open borders policy.
    2. If Mexico is such a hell hole, which I think it probably is, why not make a movie about a revolution against a real corrupt government that supports Narco terrorism, like say, Mexico.
    3. Why in the world would you make a movie that encourages killing innocent Americans when there are so many Americans who might actually go to see your movie if you didn’t encourage killing them?

    • Aww, poor Americans, Bill. *sniff*

      And your second point is incredibly ignorant. “If Mexico is such a hell hole, which I think it probably is…” It’s just a movie. Deal with it.

      • Notice I didn’t call anybody an idiot, 790. And I could have. 😉

      • Alex,

        What’s ignorant about his second point? The idea to make a movie based on the people overthrowing their inept, corrupt gov’t?

        I agree that it’s “just a movie” and don’t think it will lead to any violence of any sort – but imagine for one second an exploitation flick on the same level where they portrayed Hispanics or Middle Eastern people the same way Southerners are portrayed in this film. Do you REALLY think they’re wouldn’t be an outcry in the media that would reach the stratosphere?

        Let’s not be disingenuous.


  8. BillC
    ok dont start that BS…..

  9. Rickster! You can’t expect a film this controversial, not to stir up debate over immigration.

    Its the central focus of the story besides revenge.

  10. Guys like Bill start crap.

  11. Alex, I’m not the moderator here you can say whatever you want. Vic will deal with you not me.

    Personally I didn’t see any probs with Billc, comments. This film is meant to stir up debate. Its a sad day when anyones held accountable for having a reasonable opinion.

    • yeah seriously vic dont let this be another Tupac uprising :)

  12. Lol, this film is more offensive then any of billc’s comments Rickster!

    When are you supporting it, I mean seeing it!

    • i already supported….err saw it :)

  13. and i went in with no damn agenda, i just like RR films :)

  14. Anthony, you had a problem with billc’s comment?

    • no, was talking more about Alex and him thinking he can call you an idiot lol

      • and him thinking he can call anyone else an idiot too haha

  15. 790
    im at the hospital,family emergency so i wont see it till monday. Anthony did u like it?!?

    • ricky, that my young friend is a most SILLY question..what do you think lol

  16. Same here anthony, as for immagration issue i only had that in my mind for a few seconds during the movie because the posts i read on here before seeing it but blocked it since i Like other films of RR’s like From Dusk till Dawn, Desperado, Predators etc. Allow me to lighten the mood guys, Lindsay Lohan had a nice rack,lol and that girl with the cell phone at the beginning? Kinky. lol.

    • yeah im sure that Lohans rack will be paused a lot when it comes out on dvd lol

  17. If u like it Anthony i will love it then i think

    • hmm i dunno if you can handle the gore :)

  18. Ant’s the more you talk about that the worse your making it out to be. We had a few comments just let it go or Vic will get the impression this thread is out of control.

    Just let it go, let Vic police the comments. Thanks.

    • i actually had no intention of bringing it up again anyway man

  19. Oh i definitely can 😉

    • LOL

  20. @ Rick
    Wait till you see Lindsay, lol.

  21. 790 I’m inclined to agree with you and bill though I’m not inclined to say it the way bill did.

    I’ll say this my family came here from Ireland however, they came here legally they followed the law.

  22. Im not even gonna talk about this subject….

  23. yeah lets just drop this altogether before it turns into a certain thread..

  24. ricky, go check out the Hobo With a Shotgun thread and watch the trailer :)

  25. Interesting quote I read on Machete,,,
    “If a white person had directed a movie about hispanics being sub-human devils who want to kill everybody there would have been an uproar, but Rodriguez can demonize an entire race of people, along with Texans in general, in a similar vein and the establishment media treats it all as a cutsie joke.”
    Not trying to provoke anyone. Just a different perspective. 😎

    • i actually find that humorous 790. i’ll leave it at that out of respect for Vic

  26. Really, this trailer appalled me. I was really looking for a fun vengeance film, but the political agenda just absolutely turned me off. The blatant disrespect toward individuals who want to keep the law is just so incredibly ignorant to me.

    “But it’s the law!”

    The quote especially tweaked me. Did the director not pass the middle school stage of making the other side seem dim-witted by saying things in a stupid way? Yes, it is the law, and laws have kept this country together. I’m ranting, but it just seems childish.

  27. You guys Are aware that Lohan is never actually naked in this film… right? Or rather, she’s not visibly nude. Her breasts are either obscured by her hair, or water from the pool… and a double is used in the raunchy pool flashback. It’s probably tough to look at her face during that scene, but anyone with decent eyesight can tell that it’s not Lindsay.

    Not to crush anyone’s hope. I just had to comment on the false advertisement in a few of these posts.


    • Dudebro,

      She was topless and visible the pool. Unless my memory is totally whacked.


      • Nah, your memory’s not whacked. But as a few people have noticed, it’s not actually Lindsay who’s topless in the pool. They just used a body-double with a similar hairstyle. Had I not known this going into the movie, I probably would have made the same (false) assumption. The -real- naked Lohan can be seen under the pool’s water, in the back of the hearse, and waking from unconsciousness in the church with her mom. During all of these scenes, however, she’s censored by either water or her own hair.

        Just for the sake of clarification.

  28. Hahaha so who IS nude then?!? Is it only one scene cus im taking my family lol!

    • @ Rick

      Theres more nudity. Especially at the beginning when Machete rescues someone who’s nude, you see everything, for split second even you know what. And though it doenst show it, she pulls a cell phone from somewhere. Jessica Alba’s scene wasn’t that great but more interesting than you’d see her in past films. As for Lohan, it’s possible it was a body double for the flashback video scene. But Shes nude with another woman who bared some who played her mom in the film.

  29. Holy crap! Whoah……oh well,thanks for the info man!!!! Hope i enjoy the movie 😉