Danny Trejo gets his own film (based on the fake trailer from Grindhouse) and he is ably supported by several lovely ladies as well as many an actor he has played supporting stooge to in the past. It’s a testament to his image that so many have happily flocked to his side for this genre flick.
While it tries to play homage to all sorts of 70s exploitation, it works when the action and gore let loose, but trying to interject a whole sub-plot about racism is a little bit much when all you give a shit about is when Machete is going to get his game on.
The script is very messy and probably the patchiest we have seen for a while, with characters cut and pasted into the story leaving little to no memory of them being important to the plot. Underused are Don Johnson and Cheech Marin who come and go as the story progresses and it is a shame, as they are decent in their roles.
Jeff Fahey is probably the heavy that leaves the biggest impression as he is given most of the villain screen time. Thanks to this, Lost and even Planet Terror, this once big time player has been given a welcome return to mainstream screens.
Robert De Niro probably has the oddest arc to follow, and a bit of an even more bizarre pay off after the credits start to roll (that screams “TACKED ON”). Steven Seagal is probably the one with the most promise but he is barely there to make the impact he needs to make. The end fight is badly shot and edited and is anything but exciting. It just doesn’t deliver the killer blow that Machete needs. Despite looking like he’s been at the pies, Seagal is a welcome sight, we just wish his return to cinema had more screen time because this time it isn’t his performance that is to blame, it’s his absence!
The ladies fare worse although they are given better screen time. Their roles are fairly unbelievable and if anything are just hogging time away from Trejo. Quite what the point of Lindsay Lohan’s part is we don’t know but you could probably cut her out the film and it wouldn’t make too much difference. Even the piece of action she delivers at the end is pointless as it is rubbed mute by what follows later.
Still, Machete has enough in its bag of tricks to deem it worth watching. It is just, like The Expendables before it, capable of so much more but delivered less. There is talk of sequels, so there is room and the opportunity for improvement.