Every now and then, you just want to watch a ridiculous movie. Not an art-house film, not a huge blockbuster, nothing that involves too much emotion or any mind-bending plot twists. As long as you’re not averse to lots of violence and explosions, Machete is just the film for you.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, a frequent Tarantino collaborator, and newcomer Ethan Maniquis, the film follows Machete (Danny Trejo), an ex-Mexican federal agent whose family has been murdered and who has illegally crossed into the US to try and start a new life. Once there, he meets other illegal immigrants who have formed a protective network and gets suckered into a fake plot to assassinate a senator (Robert De Niro). As the political climate becomes more and more anti-immigrant, Machete and his friends (Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Jessica Alba) eventually decide to rise up and defend themselves. There’s more violence and firepower in this film than you can shake a stick at, and it finishes with a literal ride into the sunset. Perfect, right?
Rodriguez’s body of work has a particular nostalgia about it—he always seems to be harkening back to the era of Sergio Leone and the Grindhouse flicks of the Seventies. Indeed, he and Tarantino are both so invested in preserving this particular aesthetic that in 2007 they released their own Grindhouse, which featured one film from each of them and a smattering of truly hilarious fake trailers.
Though Machete does attempt to advance a political position—namely, that anti-immigrant sentiment is wrong and dangerous—it doesn’t waste any time on trying to convince us. In keeping with Rodriguez’s love of old-school shoot’em-ups everything in “Machete” is the perfect balance of exciting and cheesy. Big-name stars pop up everywhere if only to parody themselves (why else is Lindsay Lohan in this movie?), and everyone seems to be in on the joke.
It’s impossible not to enjoy yourself during this movie—unless you have a problem with very creative bloodletting (weed-whackers!) or general hyperbole. There is enough acerbic dialogue and visual puns to amuse even the most staid audience member, and Trejo himself, with his flowing hair and craggy face, makes a fabulous action hero. Grab your popcorn!