Movies: Machete * *
(18, General release)
A kind of yellow pack Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez has interspersed moments of insightful cinema with trashy gorefests that tread an unsubtle line between horror and parody.
He seems to have an enduring obsession with the jumpy and badly made B-pictures of the 70s, and in Machete, as in earlier films, he pays an elaborate tribute to them, even to the extent of simulating a jumpy and badly scratched print.
Danny Trejo plays Machete, a legendary Mexican undercover cop who disappears across the border into America after his wife and daughter are murdered by a drug lord. He's working as a manual labourer when he's spotted sorting out a few unsavoury characters and is approached by a shady businessman, who offers him $150,000 to kill a local Senator called McLaughlin (played by a rather lost-looking Robert De Niro). It turns out to be a set-up: McLaughlin is a rabid racist who wants to use the excuse of having been shot at by a Mexican to introduce radical new laws.
Machete goes on the run, and is helped by a local Customs agent (Jessica Alba) and a glamorous Mexican activist (Michelle Rodriguez) to extract his grisly revenge.
As the title suggests, the movie is littered with decapitations and eviscerations, and at one point our hero escapes from a hospital window using the conjoined entrails of his victims as a rope.
This is the type of thing that passes for comedy in Machete, a schlocky and deadly dull exercise in pastiche that bores more than it ever disgusts and goes precisely nowhere.