Machete review

As the credits roll on Machete, the voice over guy assures us that Machete "will return in Machete Kills ... and Machete Kills Again". And that's OK by me, for Machete is one of the silliest, funnest and most bloodily entertaining films to come along in quite some time.

I'll let the official synopsis speak for itself: Left for dead after clashing with notorious Mexican drug kingpin Torrez, Machete has escaped to Texas, looking to disappear and forget his tragic past. But what he finds is a web of corruption and deceit that leaves a bullet in a senator and Machete a wanted man. Carving a path of bullets, blood, and broken hearts, Machete’s quest ultimately leads him back to Torrez for an epic battle of revenge and redemption. Or as Machete puts it: “They just fucked with the wrong Mexican.”

Machete began life as a fake trailer on Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's homage-filled double feature Grindhouse. It's now a fully-fledged feature film, with a pretty amazing cast. Plus Lindsay Lohan. Trejo – the former child drug addict and criminal turned character actor with a face that could stop a truck – plays Machete as a man of few words who prefers to let his bloody big knife do the talking for him. (Interesting piece of trivia: the Machete character actually originated in Rodriguez's Spy Kids films.) On the side of the bad guys – a bunch of right-wing Texans – are De Niro as a corrupt senator, Fahey as his evil aide, and Johnson as a bad-ass border guard. And Seagal pops up as a Mexican drug lord. On the side of good are Rodriguez, who runs an underground network working to help illegal Mexican immigrants; Marin as Machete's brother, who just happens to be a gun-toting priest; and Alba as an INS agent with a passion for the law, a heart of gold and a soft spot for the underdog.

Yep, Machete is chock-full of cliches, but isn't that the point of a film that's paying homage to the exploitation era? It has a valid point to make: the hypocrisy of the American right, which is trying to halt illegal Mexican immigration while at the same time being happy to exploit, and abuse, said immigrants.  It's an ultra-violent film, with heads and limbs being lopped off left, right and centre, and even a marvellous scene of entrails being used as a rope. But along with all the blood and gore, there's a good deal of brains and heart ... and loads of laughs. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much during a film that wasn't classified a comedy. Plus, as a bonus (and maybe as a counterpoint to the ugliness of so many of the male stars) are some stunningly beautiful women – particularly Rodriguez and Alba (who has a smoulderingly sexy nude shower scene). Oh, and Lohan gets naked too. It's not perfect – the climax lacks a bit of punch, for which it loses a star – but the ride there is so much fun that a minor flaw is almost forgivable.

Machete at IMDb

Read our exclusive interview with co-writer Alvaro Rodriguez

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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