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Machete, Danny Trejo’s First Lead Role, The Movie Review

Lindsay Lohan in her birth-suit, Lindsay in a nun robe, Lindsay drinks what she preaches. Danny Trejo at his best. Robert De Nero with another effortless trademark convincing performance. Illegal immigration and drugs trade. Mexico, the border and USA. Nudity, beauty, kicks and blasts; is Machete. But, even this list barely begins to tell the story. WARNING: Contains spoilers!

machete movie poster

The only fault I find in Machete is with its R rating. Don’t get me wrong, I am not some social pest on a mission to injure tender minds. However, am inclined to the idea that in Machete, boobs, strong language, blasts and nudity only spice what by other accords is already a powerful visual piece. In being Restricted audience, Machete’s powerful message is kept away from a generation who through it, their awareness of the world they live in would have been enriched, thus raising hopes on solutions to grave humanity robbing issues that border on people exploitation. This is why I vouch for the shock value of Machete as artistic. No different from the nudes of ancient Greeks, middle ages and Renaissance period.

Machete is Mexico, Immigration & The American Border 101 for Dummies

Some while back, I had the rare opportunity to watch and met the director of a Mexican movie depicting the genesis of a long-standing issue that still remains one of America’s closet issues: immigration & the mexico border. This way,way before The Simpsons predicted the presidency of Donald Trump, let alone his incumbency.  As Santara (played by the ravishing Jessica Alba) in Machete quips,

We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us

The other day,  I admit that am a tad snail paced at catching up with movies as it was a September 3rd 2010 release, I had the chance to digest the same issue, this time less documentary like, in the mold of a cartoon – comic like – action hero $10,000,000 budget movie. Machete is brilliantly scripted and directed for a B movie, managing to covey what has otherwise been hushed in loud tones.

Through the almost limitless artistic freedom of movie making in the 21st Century, thanks to magic of  technology, the directors Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez-the latter who happens to have also co-scripted the movie with Alvaro Rodriguez-offer a satirical, bordering on the comical, perspective on issues surrounding Mexico-USA relations.

Border politics

There is Senator John MacLaughlin (Robert Di Nero) – one of the key protagonists in the movie – whose controversial ‘return to Mexico campaign’ forms the nidus of his robust stance on  illegal immigration. Jessica Alba plays an immigration Police Officer, ICE agent Sartana Rivera. Her performance is one to relish lest the artistic depiction of the female form. However, Lindsay Lohan steals the thunder. She is in her element in this movie: Pop culture, Skin, Drink, and Forbidden.

Through clever movie making like depictions of the Senator MacLaughlin’s campaign advertisements,  the directors lay the bed for modern ongoing debates on immigration laws, drug trade and what the International Labor Organization might label as modern slavery – mega corporations whose meager pay for labor washes off the thick make up on the face of employment revealing the underlying ugly countenance of  forced labor. Not forgetting the ugly face of globalization , read NAFTA, which exposes workers to early retirement.

Through characters depicting commonly held stereotypes of Mexicans living in America, and the strategic and liberal use of such derogatory labels like dish washers, maids and bean eaters, this cleverly scripted movie brings key political debates to Hollywood.

You ever noticed how you let a Mexican into your house just because he’s got gardening tools? No questions asked, you just let him right in. Could have a chainsaw, you know, a machete…

Booth’s Bodyguard

The legendary She is embodied by resistance fighter Luz played by Michelle Rodriguez.-if you ever wanted to see Michelle Rodriguez in a black action figure leather body suit, eye patch, holding a big gun and kicking ass, Machete is the movie for you. In what reminds of the days of  Zoro, Machete Cortez is a Federale whose confidants turned Judas and in a drug deal gone bad the result of which was his wife and child are murdered by drug lord Torrez.

Torrez is vintage Steven Seagal: Macho, sword wielding, flamboyant living westernized version of Samurai, with a smashing oriental girl by the side. Machete Coetez played by none else but one of  silver screen’s top of the game bad boys Danny Frejo, is a different deal all together.

The plot centers around Machete who is contracted to assassinate Senator MacLauhglin by some big shadowy business types. It turns out that the job was a plot to lure Machete to his own assassination. A marksman manages to almost fatally hit Machete as he himself prepares to take his shot on the wadding duck- Senator MacLaughlin.

What follows next has revenge as the surrogate motive. Machete’s quest to get back at the bad guys sparks a Bouazizi Mohamed like reaction that spread like ink on blot paper across the Arab world-as old political establishments are shaken by the foundation by wave after wave of unrelenting street protests.

Machete Don’t Text

The hidden gem in Machete, I find, is the directors  use of internet in particular and information technology in general, to set the time of the evolving events – The 21st Century. For instance, in the movie, calls are made over laptops Skype style. Yet, Machete  still feels like thumbing through a Comic book only that this time  the characters are flesh and blood rather than caricatures. Take the case of one of the longer action scenes towards the end-where Luz reappears – in what I consider to be one of the scenes in the movie.

Look out for the role that Machete’s brother Padre Benito del Toro Cheech Marin:A case of art being used to spur philosophical discussions on key societal elements . Machete: Biker culture, machetes, assassins and more, all rolled into 105 minutes of what is otherwise a well articulated sociopolitical debate

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