Review: Machete

Danny Trejo in Machete mode for Robert Rodriguez's OTT Z-grader.
Danny Trejo in Machete mode for Robert Rodriguez's OTT Z-grader.

(MA15+) ***

Director: Robert Rodriguez.

Cast: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan.

THE under-appreciated Grindhouse duology from Robert Rodriquez and fellow Z-grade movie buff Quentin Tarantino sparked this hilariously over-the-top spin-off.

Based on the fake trailer Rodriguez made to preface Death Proof and Planet Terror, Machete is long-time baddie Danny Trejo's overdue opportunity to step up to the plate as top-billed hero in a decent-sized film.

The sandstone-visaged Trejo doesn't disappoint, stoicly (and with a straight face) portraying the titular Mexican - a former federale now living illegally in the US - as he leaves a bloody trail in search of those who set him up as a patsy for an assassination attempt.

The side characters are many and colourful, particularly the bad guys. De Niro is a bigotted senator whom Machete was supposed to kill, Fahey is a true scumbag pulling the strings, and Seagal pops up as a Mexican (yes really) drug lord.

On the good side, Machete is aided by a taco-selling revolutionary (Michelle Rodriguez), an immigration officer (Alba) and his own gun-toting priest brother (Marin).

Everyone acquits themselves well in the face of the insanity that is Machete, except for Alba, who proves once again that she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. The rest of the cast, however, is wonderfully restrained, particularly Seagal, Trejo, De Niro and Michelle Rodriguez.

Robert Rodriguez knows how to make movies and brings his A game to the Z-grade, revelling in the cheesiness and over-the-top violence where everything is a weapon, including a pair of high heels, a whippersnipper and a corkscrew, and where a person's intestines can be used to climb out a window.

With nurses and nuns with machine guns, and large amounts of blood and boobs, Machete is not aiming to be a great film - it wants to be one of those deliciously silly films that are a joy to watch. And it succeeds.