Given his years spent playing bit-part b-movie villains, it’s pleasing to see Hollywood veteran Danny Trejo finally taking centre stage. The film in question, MACHETE – in which Trejo plays the eponymous character - is the latest offering from director Robert Rodriguez (of Sin City, Grindhouse and, erm, Spy Kids fame) and, true to form, is played out in true tongue-in-cheek style.
Rodriguez has assembled an eclectic cast to carry his tale of border disputes and bloody revenge, with Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin and Jessica Alba among the ensemble.
The plot is ludicrous – Trejo, who plays a “legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match” leads a group of hardworking Mexican illegal immigrants in a revolution against a corrupt politician (De Niro) and his publicist (Jeff Fahey), both of whom are in thrall to sinister drug baron Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal), whose performance does nothing to dispel the rumours that he died in the ‘80s and has since been replaced by a confused middle-aged woman.
Absurd though it is, MACHETE is nothing if not energetic, and by playing up to it’s lunacy, the film achieves more than some films with loftier ambitions. Furthermore, the film showcases a few strong performances; Michelle Rodriguez is both engaging and desirable in her role as a sexy ass-kicker, and Danny Trejo’s weathered face is perpetually hypnotising.
With MACHETE, Rodriguez’s aim was to create a viable Latin American action hero. His concept has been incubated since he first worked with Trejo for Desperado (“the local townspeople flocked to see Danny, thinking he was the stay of the movie,” remembers Rodriguez. “He had incredible presence, and I knew I had found MACHETE.”), and interest in the film was further spiked by the addition of a fake MACHETE trailer to Grindhouse in 2007.
Finally, fifteen years since it was first mooted, the film has been made. Though MACHETE won’t change the world, Danny Trejo revels in his role as a man so tough he is described as ‘the FBI, CIA and DEA all rolled into one mean burrito’.