Movie Review: Machete (Rodriguez, 2010)

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Movie: Machete

Production Companies: Overnight Films, Troublemaker Studios, Hyde Park Entertainment 

Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Manquis

Producers: Robert Rodriguez, Rebecca Rodriguez 

Scriptwriters: Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez 

Main Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Logan, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro

Release Date: September 3rd 2010

Running Time: 105 minutes

Certificate: 18


I mean it’s really hard to describe this film without making it sound terrible. While eagle eyed viewers may notice this is a spin-off from a TV show in Spy Kids, Machete has none of the family friendly vibes of those films. Instead, it’s a proper violent Grindhouse film about illegal immigration. Oh and the fact Danny Trejo is the lead star makes it all the better. So, with constant talk of Tarantino’s film being his last, why not look at a spin off from his and Rodriguez’s collaboration? Anyway, let’s get into my review of the film.


Machete follows the titular Machete (Trejo), a police officer, who is recruited by shady figure and spin doctor Michael Booth (Fahey) to kill far right Senator Jon McLaughlin (De Niro). And yes I appreciate that’s a lot to process and take in. That’s not even mentioning how Machete is nearly recruited by Immigration Officer Sartana Rivera (Alba) and underground resistance fighter Luz (Rodriguez). And that doesn’t cover any of the mad violent action scenes with Machete killing people with literally everything and anything. But without further ado let’s jump into the analysis portion of this review because there’s a lot to break down.


Danny Trejo’s Performance in Machete 

To begin my analysis of Machete, there’s only really one place I can start: Danny Trejo’s performance as the titular Machete. So the big question is, is it any good? Well yes. He’s basically the only part of the film which has any consistency. And that’s really saying something in a film with Robert De Niro….. Anyway, Trejo very much embodies the silent killer stereotype with many scenes of him brutally murdering his enemies or thinking about murdering his enemies.

Case in point, look at his flashback backstory. Here he gets set up for trying to take down a ruthless cartel boss. And that hasn’t aged badly…. Anyway, here Trejo casually murders the henchman, only for the betrayal from the girl. Oh and his family die in front of him. Not only does Trejo put his heart into this scene but it makes Machete seem sympathetic. Also, this is definitely tested when he murders just about everyone he meets afterwards. But still massive credit and respect to Danny Trejo for a pretty solid performance.

Robert De Niro’s Performance in Machete

Continuing my analysis of Machete, I’m going to talk about Robert De Niro’s performance as Senator Jon McLaughlin. Now when compared to Trejo who carries the film, I kept forgetting De Niro was in the film. And yes I get he’s a villain lying in wait in the background to strike but when you keep forgetting he’s there then the film has a problem. On top of that his performance is just fine because there’s really not much to say beyond its fine.

Take as an example the scene where Machete is about to attempt an assassination on McLaughlin. De Niro really does make you want to see his character get his comeuppance because a lot of what his character says is disturbingly similar to a certain former president. That being said he does have a very satisfying and funny comeuppance death scene. Here he gets shot accidentally by his own men, which is very ironic. So really that was a cherry on top of a perfectly fine pie.

Cinematography in Machete

To conclude my analysis of Machete, I’m going to discuss the film’s cinematography or lack of it at points. Take for example the film’s chaotic final scene where it’s nearly impossible to determine where anybody is. I mean we see Trejo is riding in on a car with an enormous machete with some of the shakiest shaky cam you’ll ever see. Not only does this detract from the stupidly over the top action and the hilariously bad special effects but also it’s really headache inducing to watch. Like imagine making a film which is just a camera in a washing machine.

That’s how bad it gets at points…. Oh and there’s also a lot of surprise character reveals using over the shoulder shots which is funny at first but overused by the end. And that really sums up the problems with Machete’s cinematography: it’s all over the place and very disorienting for the audience. Shame it doesn’t make Trejo’s performance better….


To summarise Machete, this is a mental, insanely violent Grindhouse film which has a very student feel to it thanks to its ‘special effects’ and cinematography. Honestly watch this out of morbid curiosity because unless you’re an Trejo fan it’s not the film for you. But let none of that detract from the brilliant hilarity of Danny Trejo and the rest of the cast trying to make this work and somehow succeeding….

Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Average 

Target Audience: 18+

Content Warning: Moderate Sex and Nudity, Severe Violence and Gore, Severe Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Moderate Frightening and Intense 

Recommendation: Yes