starring Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal
screenplay by Robert Rodriguez & Alvaro Rodríguez
directed by Ethan Maniquis & Robert Rodriguez
by Walter Chaw The only kind of movie Robert Rodriguez should be making as well as the kind of movie The Expendables should have been, the knowing, balls-out Machete is unforgivable, reprehensible, sleazy, disgusting fun, and somehow not entirely stupid. It gives props to the eternally quickly-dead character actor Danny Trejo as the titular ex-Federale, a grab-bag of Mexican stereotypes who in the course of his bloody rampage (for justice, of course) uses a weed-whacker and a pick-axe, among other day-labourer tools. Meanwhile, when he's picked up as a patsy in a senator's ploy, he more fears that he's being tapped for a "septic job." It's unabashed in its politics, taking on the illegal immigration debate in the United States with a naïve brio and outrage. But it's all the more winning, I think, for its complete lack of embarrassment about itself. The thought even occurs that the reason it works is the exact reason a few of the better drive-in/grindhouse/exploitation films of the Seventies worked: Born of low pretensions, it frees itself to explore its outrage with a simple-mindedness that rings with the earnest "geez!" of a Kevin Costner joint.