AWFJ Women On Film – “Machete” – Review by Susan Granger

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In his collaboration with Quentin Tarantino on “Grindhouse” (2007), Robert Rodriguez introduced a mock trailer for a fake movie called “Machete,” starring craggy-faced, veteran character actor Danny Trejo (“Desperado,” “Con Air”) as an intimidating Mexican day laborer. Now, in homage to violent, low-budget, ‘70s exploitation pictures, that ‘coming attraction’ has become a testosterone-fueled reality.

Although you can’t take it seriously, the minimalist plot revolves around Machete (Trejo), a badass ex-Mexican Federale who is seeking revenge against the vicious Mexican drug lord who killed his wife and daughter. Within the opening minutes, he’s lopped the heads and arms off a dozen gangsters guarding the kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal). Left for dead, Machete recuperates and flees over-the-border to Austin, where he’s coerced under threat of deportation to accept $150,000 from double-crossing Booth (Jeff Fahey) to kill conservative, intolerant Texas Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), who denounces illegal immigrants as “parasites” and enjoys driving with sadistic, rifle-wielding Von (Don Johnson), shooting unarmed Mexican they find sneaking into the country. But it’s a set-up and when he’s identified as the would-be assassin, Machete’s only allies are his brother (Cheech Marin), a less-than-pious priest, and Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the proprietor of a taco truck and leader of ‘the Network,’ as the underground resistance is called. Then there’s scantily clad Sartana (Jessica Alba), a luscious Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent, and slutty April (Lindsay Lohan), Booth’s spoiled, drugged-up daughter. Mix ‘em all together and you get murder and mayhem.

Granted, writer/director Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City”/”Spy Kids”) and his co-director/longtime editor Ethan Maniquis are only junior-grade Quentin Tarantinos, but they assemble enough ludicrous, offensive, over-the-top, politically incorrect genre conventions – like bigoted hombres, naughty nurses and naked bodacious babes – to score as a well-done, late-summer diversion. And they’re already planning two sequels.

So for an intentionally junky, grade-B movie, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Machete” is a campy, slice-and-dice 7. And I don’t have to be a betting woman to suggest that men will like this R-rated guilty pleasure much more than women.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.