‘Machete’ Review

Published 4 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

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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.

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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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TAGS: 2 star movies, machete

185 Comments

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  1. Holy crap! Whoah……oh well,thanks for the info man!!!! Hope i enjoy the movie ;) BTW this isnt a type of “porn” movie right,just nudity huh?!?

  2. @ Rick

    Yup, just nudity. Like many RR films.

  3. Btw Dudebro was right about Lohan’s nude scene. It is a body double. I forgot one thing about watching movies with nudity from a actress, if she doesnt show her face, or isnt clearly seen like in the video tape in film than its a body double.

  4. Wally West
    Thanks man i appreciate it,nudity isnt bad,but idk i get uncomfortable watching them “doing it” when i take my family…..

    • @ Rick

      I only saw it once, but i remember theres no man on woman sex goin on though theres one scene that lead people to think happens but not screen. Only thing seen not suitable for kids would be is seeing Lohan and her body double’s character naked in the pool with her mom. Mostly the body double of lohan’s character and her mom. Not surprising i seen kids with parents at the movie when i went to see it. Parents these days.

  5. More proof after Sin City and Predators that Rodriguez is a terrible director. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get Deadpool.

    • *not Predators, my bad. (obviously).

    • he didnt direct Predators…. and Sin City was great

      • Ugh I remember when I saw it I thought it would be great but in the end I just found it to be stylised emptiness tbh. Looking back the main selling point was that it was black and white except for red, which is never a great foundation for a film.

        Btw I can’t believe that Steven Seagal’s in a film that isn’t a Steven Seagal film! :P

        • Schindler’s List?

          Executive Decision? :-)

  6. I did not know anything about the film going in except for it had a star studded cast.
    The first part of the movie was really good but I wondered why Machete did not seek revenge for three years. What was he doing and waiting for?
    For me this movie went bad when Lindsey and her mom invite a 66 year old mexican gardener into the pool with them! (They did not know he was Machete, to them he was just another Mexican day laborer)Yea, that needed to be a dream sequence or at gunpoint to work for me!
    The rest of the movie was about how greedy and cruel the white people are and how hard working and honest the Mexican people are.
    By the end I did not care what happened to any of the characters and if I had not been with other people then I might have got up and left.
    To me Rodriguez ruined a movie that started out so promising but ended with making every character unbelievable and unsupportable.
    I did not care how it ended, just please end it quickly.

  7. Anyone notice how Rodriguez and Tarrantino’s films are always about revenge.

    Killing and revenge,,, that’s all they got.

  8. yes, but i still find thier films entertaining 790 :)

  9. LMAO, yout taking your family to Machete Rickster?

    Ah that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    Let us know how that goes. Lol,,,

    • now THAT would be a sight to see

  10. Interesting perspective WallyWest?

    The nude scenes may be too much for the kids but you don’t have a problem with all the murder, amputations, or basic violence…

    • @ 790

      I was replying to Rick about the nudity within the film to give him more insight. Im sure he knows about murder, amputations, violence etc. I dont have a problem cause i dont have kids of my own, if i did i wouldnt be takin them to the movie like that. Heck Id even look more into a PG-13 movie before considering letting them go see it, a example would be Titanic. It was drama based on the real life tragic doomed ocean liner but it still had nudity in it. When i was younger, my parents didnt let me to go see Superman 2 or Batman, that how strict my parents were. And even though i dont think parents should take kids to movies like Piranha 3D or Machete, its not my business.

  11. LOL either way if i had any kids, i wouldnt take them no matter what

  12. I can’t believe Machete, is the family film event for Rickster,,,

    Were doomed,,, lol

    • HAHAHAHAHA..well, i’ll admit, my ex stepdad took me to some R rated movies when i was 11, 12, 13 years old..even snuck into a few in my day. Heavy Metal, Fast Times, Aliens..though i was 16 at the time that came out lol

  13. I would not take kids or adults. Send a message that we want a better written and directed movie and don’t go!
    I personally do not think Machete II or III will ever get made. More killing of whites and drug dealers! Machete don’t do wheelchairs…ok give me that wheelchair!

  14. Lohan gets naked! I’m totally in.

    • Sorry Sully, but Lindsay Lohan did have a body double in the scene her dad plays back the pool scene of her and her mom with Machete. Only time she was nude was when her breasts were under water and her hair & arm covering herself in the church after she wakes up. Mr.Skin.com mention bodydouble was used.

  15. 790,Anthony and Sully
    Hahaha that movie was FANTASTIC,we all loved it! Im getting the poster soooo bad ;) lohan is naked but i think it aint her……anyways i think its a great movie everyone at the theater clapped,i cant wait to buy this :D Go see it!

    • i already did seeit, before you lol :P

  16. Cool Rickster. Definitely wanna check it out. But first i gotta see Avatar again in 3D imax.

  17. Next Family event is *drum roll* harry potter!!!!!! Im so freaking excited!!!!! ;)

  18. Wow Rick can’t believe you liked this. I’ll ignore the Harry Potter comment lol

    only movie coming soon I’m looking forward to is The Town looks great.

  19. The only movies i can’t wait for are coming out in December. True Grit (coen brother) and Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky) yeahya.

  20. Harry potter #1. yeah sully go ahead watch avatar in 3d tell me whats not seen ok?!? Tell me if its worth it for those 8 extra minutes ;)

  21. The 3D experiance enough is worth it to me rickster. So I can already tell you it is :).

  22. I was initially interested in seeing this way back when it was mentioned that the Machete trailer was going to be made into it’s own movie. But now after reading online reviews Im going to skip it. The last demographic Rodriguez had in mind was average sensible Americans (the majority)

    Here are some of the offensive/inflammatory parts of the movie (from a Prisonplanet.com critic)

    - Opening scene where pregnant mother trying to cross the border is killed by DeNiro and border vigilantes to ‘prevent another anchor baby’

    - A phony campaign ad for DeNiro’s Senator McLaughlin depicts hundreds of crawling worms and cockroaches while decrying the “parasite” immigrant “terrorists” crossing the border.

    - ‘The Network’ of Latinos was continually virtuous while the Freedom Force, a vigilante group cast with caricatures of hillbilly trash, neo-Nazi types and fat slobs, repeatedly use terms like “wetbacks,” “cucarachas,” “parasites,” “beaners” and more.

    - Freedom Fighter vigilantes regularly go out on adventures to snipe at illegals near the border and film their exploits

    - A Catholic priest played by Cheech Marin is crucified by the character “Booth” who slings racist insults while nailing him to the cross

    - A scene in a hospital where it is declared that illegal immigrants are usually refused emergency care, but Machete is lucky that ‘The Network’ is there to help him this time. (In reality, the cost of health care for undocumented illegal immigrants, for both emergency care, births, public education and beyond is burdensome to every Southern border state, as well as in many other areas.)

    Despite Vic’s sensible review, clearly pointing to the absurdity of the film as way to overlook the racial anti-Americanism – I just cant buy into it.

    • I wouldn’t listen to Prison Planet if I were you. Alex Jones claims to be the voice of reason, but he’s as bad as the people he rallies against.

      • Most people, even the more verbose and perplexing pundits/critics hit the right note once in a while. It seems to me his list is good enough reason to avoid the movie – unless he’s just making it all up.

        Vic’s review, while respectable, seemed to apply a little sugar coating, instead of just calling out this movie for what it obviously is. (Dont take it that Im saying he should have just blasted it both barrels but there IS a time when bluntness is appropriate – this is one of them.)

        • Jones is only agaist this film because he’s afraid this film will be a “call to arms”. It’s just one reason as to why he’s a moron.

          http://www.killerfilm.com/articles/read/is-machete-a-call-to-arms-33743

          • No one is forgetting it’s an exploitation flick – I dont think it excuses the overarching pro-invasion message. Yep, it’s suppose to be a fun movie for us who like this sort of thing once in a while but the implications in the story are irritating.

          • @Matt K

            Before so easily dismissing the possible negative issues that could arise from this film it might be worth taking a look at how much pro ‘La Raza’ activity is going on and within the US as well as abroad. I’m not syaing Rodriguez does not have a right to make this film or any other but I’m also know that pop-culture items like popular movies can have an influence on at least some if not many and it only takes a1 nut case wacko who has been inspired by a film to go out and do something violent and stupid.

            Does that mean the film or its producers are to balme? NO. However it also means you can’t just dismiss a statement of concern as Jones has raised just becasue you don’t like the person. Understadn I’m not taking up a defense for Jones but for the idea that what he has said is stupid just because it is he who said it verses someone else.

          • How could it be a call to arms? most immigrants I know don’t waste their money going to movies. They take their paychecks, buy essentials, and send the rest home.

        • intelliq,

          I tried to strike a balance in my review and set aside my personal feelings on issues as much as I could. My thoughts are all there – in the end it’s just a dumb old movie that won’t be seen by that many people.

          Vic

  23. piece of garbage, i give it a 1.5/5, seagal should have been in it longer and the end fight should have lasted alot longer then 30 sec. another RR piece of trash, at this stage i’m praying that he doesn’t touch deadpool, if he does there is no way in hell i’m going to watch it.

  24. Wow not taking your kid to superman thats hard core. That’s a bit much in my opinion

    • Yeah,lol my mother was that strict. I was lucky to that she let me go with one of my older brothers to Batman Returns when it came out because i didnt wanna see Sister Act with her & my sister,lol.

  25. Sully
    Yeah i saw avatar in 3d so i know its worth it,i just wanna know if those 8 min are worth it!

  26. Wally west
    Wow,i was watching freddy kreuger since i was 10 lol!

    • @ Rick

      Lol i had to wait for see them on Vhs and watch them whenever i got the chance when my parents werent around or if i knew they stayed upstairs for sure. One time i got caught watchin T2 and she turned it off on me.

  27. It’s a B-movie people!!! This is not an Oscar-winning movie it’s a Grindhouse flick!! I saw it and it was good to me!!!

  28. No offensive there Rickster, but it seems clear to me that your desensitized to cinematic violence.

    Part of what I’ve talked about before on SR. 8-)

    • i think he just likes whats popular, just my opinion though

  29. Weather you agree with Alex or not, Prison Planet com some great information.

    I agree stay away from Prison Planet if you don’t want to think about anything other then movies or tv shows.

    8-)

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