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Movie Review: Machete

MACHETE 4 stars
20th Century Fox, Rated R

Typical political movies, which project a serious tone around themes like war, tend to drive audiences away from theaters faster than rumors of a bedbug invasion. But when heavy subject matter is laced with light laughs, it’s an entirely different story. So even though Machete is just about incendiary enough to incite an all-out border war around the current hot topic of immigration, spicing up the proceedings with devilish humor keeps the temperature moderated more at playful than provocative.

Troublemaker Studio’s bad boy director Robert Rodriguez, who last shook up movie screens with Grindhouse and Sin City, returns with a vengeance with the bullet-riddled, stylishly defiant slice ’em-up action satire, Machete. Guerrilla warfare meets guerrilla filmmaking, as wickedly dark screen insanity fuels U.S. north of the border revolutionary beatdown.


Turning all known manifestations of the classic western on their heads when not simply decapitating them, Machete detonates the battle around immigration like no Tea Party rally ever could. The film’s title, which refers to both Danny Trejo’s screen alias and the old-school heat he brandishes, manically showcases a mad-as-hell Mexican ex-lawman with multiple identities as he avenges assorted betrayals.

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Following the ill-fated but hilarious rescue of a nude, flirtatious kidnapped damsel in distress by driving his car right through the front door, Machete heads for the border—sans papers—to right more than a couple wrongs. Sauntering under the INS radar as an undocumented day laborer in a Texas border town, the weathered, sulking Machete finds himself juggling three radically sensuous women: Sassy Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), a mobile taco stand operator who may or may not be the mythic avenger of the oppressed masses known as She, Sartana (Jessica Alba), a patent-leather stiletto wielding customs agent stalking Machete until she sees the insurrectionery light, and Lindsay Lohan as a spoiled rich kid meth head—a real reach—turned machine gun-toting nun on the run.

Danny Trejo stars in Machete

With a series of lunatic political showdowns involving devious anti-immigration assassin celebs (Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey) on both sides of the border—and in one case, a great escape that uses 60 feet of human intestine to climb down a high-rise building—this movie is clearly a mind blower. But the only minds it will be blowing are probably not around where the movie takes place, as Machete is not likely to hit border multiplexes anytime soon.

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