starring Danny Trejo, Robert DiNero, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Jeff Fahey and Michelle Rodriguez
written by Robert Rodriguez and Álvaro Rodriguez
directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
This is a bloody, grotesque movie, and it’s great. The gratuitous comic book slaughter is ridiculously funny. It’s a typical Rodriquez brother story - Desperado (1995), and From Dusk to Dawn (1996, a wonderfully wacky vampire movie), are each memorable. I watched it specifically because I am curious about Danny Trejo, and this is the first movie I have ever seen him star in. He is already in his 60s, so maybe it’s about time! You would recognize Danny Trejo even if you don’t know his name because he has a very distinctive face and body: long hair, pock marked face, copious body tattoos, a powerful muscular build - although he is almost a senior citizen now he still looks plenty tough. Most of his acting career consists of cameo appearances as Mexican assassins - although he isn’t Mexican at all. He is a Mexican American Angelino, a former gang member, Californiaconvict, and Californiapenitentiary boxing champion (I checked his Wikipedia page). He got into movies as a physical trainer.
Danny Trejo plays a Mexican Federale - a Mexican federal police agent, like an FBI agent in the United States - nicknamed Machete because he prefers that weapon. It seems like every Mexican or Latino cliché you can imagine is thrown in here just to augment the comic book effect. But I think that even though ethnic clichés are used as a comic device it is nevertheless informative of some of the issues in contemporary American culture.
We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.
After watching his family executed by a drug lord (Steven Seagal) in Mexico, Machete hides across the border in Texas where he accidentally falls into a conspiracy between a Texas Senator (Robert DeNiro) and the same drug lord who murdered his family to control the border fence meant to retard illegal immigration from Mexico into theU.S. Controlling the border fence means controlling the flow of drugs. So the very senator who rails against illegal immigration and related problems is secretly profiting from Mexican drug money to win election. The movie is pregnant with the politics of the illegal immigration issue in the U.S. The right wing extremist and red neck vigilante type of Texan is what we see in the movie.
My favorite line is, “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”