Should I Watch..? 'Machete' (2010)

Updated on February 14, 2019
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin has been reviewing films for sixteen years and has seen more action movies than he should probably admit to!

Poster for the film
Poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

Machete is an action film released in 2010 and is based upon the character of the same name that featured in the Spy Kids franchise. However, this is far from the kiddie-friendly origins of the role played by Danny Trejo - the film sees Machete caught up in a political conspiracy and forced to turn the tables on those trying to frame him. The film also stars Steven Seagal, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguz and Cheech Marin and was written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The idea originally formed as a result of a fake trailer produced by Rodriguez for the B-movie tribute double feature Grindhouse together with long-time collaborator Quentin Tarantino. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a deliberately cult film, the film only made $44 million worldwide but there was enough interest in a sequel - Machete Kills - released in 2013. Critical reaction was broadly positive with most critics agreeing that the film's over-the-top levels of violence and exploitative nature was the exact reason for the film.


3 stars for Machete (2010)

What's it about?

Isador "Machete" Cortez is a former Mexican Federale who finds himself falling on hard times after being sold out by his Chief to drug lord Rogelio Torrez three years earlier. Scrapping a living in Texas, Machete is contacted by local businessman Michael Booth who has a job for him. Anti-immigration Texas Senator John McLaughlin is deporting hundreds of migrants out of the state and Booth offers Machete $150'000 to assassinate him at a political rally. Forced into accepting the contract, Machete quickly discovers that he has been set-up after another sniper shots him in the shoulder and wounds McLaughlin as part of a 'false flag' operation.

Realising that he has been framed as a rogue Mexican outlaw and unwittingly drawing sympathy for McLaughlin's cause, Machete recovers from his wounds and seeks the assistance of US Immigration Agent Sartana Rivera and Luz, the leader of an underground group called the Network who help migrants. But as things quickly spiral out of control, it falls to Machete to bring about justice in his own inimitable style...


Main Cast

Danny Trejo
Robert De Niro
Senator John McLaughlin
Jessica Alba
Agent Sartana Rivera
Steven Seagal
Rogelio Torrez
Michelle Rodriguez
Jeff Fahey
Michael Booth
Cheech Marin
Padre Benicio Del Toro
Don Johnson
Von Jackson
Lindsay Lohan
April Booth
Tom Savini
Osiris Amanpour

Technical Info

Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis
Robert & Álvaro Rodriguez
Running Time
105 minutes
Release Date (UK)
26th November, 2010
Action, Crime, Thriller
Razzie Award
Worst Supporting Actress (Alba)
The film shares the same bonkers sense-of-humour of previous Rodriguez efforts like Desperado, which actually suits the film just fine.
The film shares the same bonkers sense-of-humour of previous Rodriguez efforts like Desperado, which actually suits the film just fine. | Source

What's to like?

Rodriguez is a curious director whose films seem to consist of ultra-violent action films, more family-friendly efforts and nothing else in between. Suffice to say, Machete falls into the former category - fuelled by the same cartoony levels of bloodshed fans will recall from films like Desperado, the film offers audiences an unrepentant roller-coaster ride reminiscent of spaghetti westerns and parodies of such. It's a little disconcerting to see a film that aspires to be a B-movie but Rodriguez is a master of making low budgets stretch as far as they can go. This is B-movie material with the look of a major blockbuster.

Trejo, long associated with films of this type, is born to play the role and his craggy features and brutish manner have never been utilised better than here but he has plenty of support. Thankfully, the cast understand that Rodriguez is not making a serious film here and everyone chips in with their tongues firmly in cheek. It isn't the greatest film but it doesn't try to be. Machete knows that it is patently ridiculous and so throws as many crazy ideas into the mix as possible, almost without considering whether it's going to work or not. It's a no-nonsense action film and if that's all you're looking for then this will more than do the trick.

Fun Facts

  • After sharing his concept with Danny Trejo, Robert Rodriguez was bombarded with calls from Trejo trying to convince him to go ahead with the project. When asked why he didn't just text him, Trejo replied "Machete don't text." Rodriguez liked the line so much, he included it in the film.
  • This was Seagal's first theatrically released film since 2002's Half Past Dead. It also marked the first time in his career he played an outright villain.
  • Grindhouse featured a number of fake trailers for films, some of which either became films in their own right or are being developed. Hobo With A Shotgun stars Rutger Hauer as a tramp who becomes a vigilante while Eli Roth has confirmed that he is working on a possible feature called Thanksgiving.

What's not to like?

For anyone who maybe isn't used to this style of film, Machete will wash over them like a tidal surge. The film is intentionally trashy and designed to be reminiscent of B-movie classics like Satan's Sadists and Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS. This is low budget, disposable and ultimately forgettable fare which will put a smile on your face whilst you're watching but fades from the memory not long after. As such, it's largely redundant to point out how bad Alba is as she is far too baby-faced to be the bad-ass the role demands. She reminded me of Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, an actress too young or nice to be played someone with a supposedly hard exterior.

The question I have is who exactly is this film for. These days, action films often have an aesthetic that makes watching them much easier - The Matrix has its cast dodging bullets and the often-imitated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has scenes of sheer beauty with martial-arts scenes floating through forest and ground-breaking wire-work. Machete, by contrast, feels lumpen and almost dumb, dragging its bloodied knuckles through the dust like a Mexican caveman.

The film is Danny Trejo's first in a leading role, reinforcing the film's B-movie aspirations.
The film is Danny Trejo's first in a leading role, reinforcing the film's B-movie aspirations. | Source

Should I watch it?

Machete won't be to everybody's tastes but as a piece of throwaway trash cinema, you'll struggle to find better. Loaded with hammy performances, bloody action sequences and a plot so bizarre that you kinda give up on it halfway through, the film has everything a connoisseur of B-movies could possibly want. There is no room for sophistication here - Machete does exactly what it says it will do and it blows you away with its sheer, unbridled sense of fun.

Great For: fans of Rodriguez' style of film-making, action lovers, macabre senses of humour

Not So Great For: serious viewers, humourless souls

What else should I watch?

While Machete might well be the most Rodriguez film in Rodriguez' career, it certainly isn't his best. For me, Desperado is the perfect blend of violence, desert heat and off-beat humour with Antonio Banderas in sublime form as El Mariachi and Salma Hayek never better as sultry love interest Carolina. The follow-up Once Upon A Time In Mexico was a bit too bloated for my tastes with too many characters, a confusing plot and Johnny Depp's scene-stealing CIA agent not quite fitting in.

Hollywood isn't afraid to put out the odd action film or so, ever since Die Hard rewrote the rules back in 1988. Nowadays, there is a bit more thought and imagination put into such projects and they deliver a film that is much more watchable than a straight-forward good-vs-bad shooter like this film. However, it does appear that old-school isn't quite going away just yet. Led by Sylvester Stallone's revivalist action The Expendables, audiences appear to have had enough of kung-fu on the end of wires floating above a set. Does this mean I'm now old-school?

© 2018 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)