Machete

First Piranha 3D, and now this. Somewhere, a fake blood supply house is running very low on stock. It’s almost at the point where the MTV Movie Awards could include a separate category for Best Blood Splatter Technician.

Machete (which began life being advertised in a fake trailer during the 2007 cult hit Grindhouse) is an all-out, fun, bloody good time. It’s as loud and crazy as The American is quiet and restrained. And it will keep you entertained, from the opening knife fight straight through to the end (though it could have left another 15-or-so minutes on the editing room floor and been that much better.)

In casting Danny Trejo (Predators), director Robert Rodriguez has chosen perhaps one of the most unlikely leading man ever to hit the screen. This guy’s face has more nooks and crannies than an English muffin, and his low, gravelly voice is more reminiscent of a Harley engine than a man talking. The truth is, though, he’s compelling, and he commands attention whenever he’s on screen. Plus, he somehow gets all the ladies, and he’s got some pretty creative ways of dispatching with the bad guys (corkscrew, weed whacker, and nail gun among them…)

Trejo plays Machete, a former Mexican Federale (he refused to go on the take with the local drug kingpin, played by Steven Seagal in a glorious ‘comeback’). Three years later, Machete is working as a day laborer in Texas when he’s given an ‘offer he can’t refuse’– kill the incumbent state senator (Robert De Niro) who’s vehemently anti-illegals, and earn a quick $150K. Simple enough plan, but unfortunately it’s a set-up, and Machete has to go on the run, all the while plotting his revenge.

The stellar supporting cast includes (along with De Niro and Seagal) Jessica Alba as an INS agent who winds up helping Machete (she’s no dummy), Michelle Rodriguez as the leader of the ‘Underground Railroad’ for illegals, and Jeff Fahey as the greasy, resident schmuck who set Machete up for the fall (and you know that’s not going to end well). And, of course Rodriguez’ old standby, Cheech Marin, is perfect as Machete’s brother, a (shall we say) conflicted priest

Rodriguez obviously had a lot of fun putting this movie together. It’s action-packed, hilarious, and, frankly, a rockin’ good time. It’s in the same vein as Piranha 3D (naked women and blood feature prominently), but in the end it’s more polished and less campy (plus, thankfully it’s not in 3D.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lindsay Lohan’s minor role as Fahey’s drugged-out, spoiled brat of a daughter (Who says that art doesn’t imitate life?) but the fact that Machete actually benefits from her ‘performance’ is saying something. The capper is Don Johnson’s priceless turn as a grossly intolerant one-man anti-Mexican cavalry (complete with the hat to prove it.)

If Machete serves as a bit of a lighting rod for the current immigration debate so be it. The rest of us will just relish the fact that it knocks your socks off and keeps you laughing at the same time.

3.5/5 stars