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Michelle Rodriguez Makes her Mark in 'Machete': Review

Michelle Rodriguez Makes her Mark in 'Machete':  Review

If you can stomach the gore and are not easily offended, "Machete" might just be the perfect flick for you. The best part? Machete’s band of vigilantes is also helmed by Michelle Rodriguez, whose character Luz is intense, powerful, and seductive without forcing her sexuality on the audience. The rest of the A-list cast includes Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan and Steven Seagal. 

Machete is not for the squeamish. In fact, to enjoy it you have to be pretty much A-okay with severed limbs and splattering blood, and then, with flashbacks of the severed limbs and splattering blood just in case you forgot how gruesome they were in the first place (you won’t). Intestines are flung around like party streamers and the nudity is so abundant it loses the shock factor after the first scene. Still, if you can stomach the gore and are not easily offended, Machete might just be the perfect flick for you. 

Machete doesn’t revolve too much around plot, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have one. Danny Trejo plays Machete, an “ex-federale” who is now an illegal immigrant in Texas. Machete is hired to assassinate an immigrant-hating senator played by Robert De Niro, but when the job goes awry, Machete ends up in trouble. But Machete’s not about to take crap from anyone, and with the help of a surprisingly A-list cast of fierce fighter friends he starts a revolution. The best part? Machete’s band of vigilantes is also helmed by Michelle Rodriguez, whose character Luz is intense, powerful, and seductive without forcing her sexuality on the audience.

I can’t say as much for Lindsay Lohan, whose character April never fails to seem like an out-of-place after thought whose only purpose is to be naked and played by Lindsay Lohan. 

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An always welcome Jessica Alba rounds out the female presence as Sartana, an immigration and customs enforcement officer turned freedom fighter. Jessica does rock many an action sequence --  one involving a pair of stilettos is particularly engaging -- but her acting prowess just isn’t up to par with the majority of the cast.

The moments with the most intensity are those between Danny Trejo, who embodies Machete so well it seems the franchise couldn’t go on without him, and Michelle. Robert De Niro, however, wins major props for his portrayal of the world’s sickest senator. It’s obvious the acclaimed actor is having a grand old time savoring every moment of screen time, and, as always, he deserves recognition for his effort.

Robert Rodriguez also gets kudos for his disgustingly entertaining direction. It’s almost shocking that this man’s got such a stake in both horror and kid’s films -- the totally kid friendly Spy Kids franchise is his creation. An added bonus comes in the form of Chingon (which appropriately means badass), a band started by Robert Rodriguez, who also plays guitar, that provides the Machete soundtrack. 

One of the most intriguing aspects of Machete is that it is able to give a strong and focused opinion on a very important issue in today’s society without taking itself too seriously. In the film, nearly all the good guys are illegal Mexican immigrants who are trying to forge a new life in Texas, and the viciously evil bad guys are the Americans who are brutally trying to wipe them all out. Director Rodriguez obviously feels very strongly about this issue, and his statement, while maybe not entirely built on truth, still packs quite a punch. The mere idea that there are people out there in the real world that feel like De Niro’s senator is enough to make anyone’s stomach churn. Machete also could not have come at a more opportune time, especially with Arizona’s strict immigration law still making headlines. For those who are unaware, the original concept for Machete appeared during Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse event as a fake trailer in between two full-length features. It’s disappointing that the immigration problem Rodriguez was so dedicated to shedding light on then has only gotten worse now. Sure, the point of Machete isn’t to change the world, but it definitely made me think more thoroughly about our government’s questionable choices.

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Yes, there are going to be those who aren’t going to love Machete. It’s vulgar and violent -- the movie’s called Machete for a reason -- but there is also plenty of fun to be had. Machete is a fantastic piece of modern Grindhouse, a genre that is sure to be revived at full force once the other trailers from the 2007 Grindhouse piece are fleshed out and released as individual feature films.

My biggest issue with Machete, however, is its tendency to sexualize its female characters far beyond necessity for the genre.

Michelle Rodriguez is brilliant as a strong female lead that doesn’t need a man to protect her, (Warning! A small spoiler lurks ahead!) so it’s a bit off-putting when the film suddenly does a 180 and has her jumping on Machete and taking her clothes off for battle.

It would have been nice to see a badass woman who doesn’t sleep with the hero or walk around half naked just for the sake of a close up on her abs (although I’m sure there won’t be to many complaints on that aspect). Regardless, Machete is a unique piece of cinema with a kick-ass cast that I found to be totally worth the too-expensive ticket I paid for to see it. Did I close my eyes a bit during the bloody bits? Hell yes, but many more moments had me wide-eyed and on the edge of my seat, hoping for a sequel. Preferably one starring Michelle Rodriguez.

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