20. Machete

Speaking of mediocre movies that take themselves too seriously…

Machete is not supposed to be a good movie. I understand that. I love that. I went to see it because of that. And for the first twenty minutes, I thought that Robert Rodriguez understood that as well.

But it doesn’t seem to have quite sunk in with him that when you make a bad, nonsensical popcorn movie, you can’t also wrap in a tremendously preachy message and expect it to play as anything other than a propaganda movie. And that’s what it felt like.

That’s not to say that the particularly exploitative moments weren’t occasionally perfectly assembled. There’s a moment where Machete swings through a plate glass window using the intestines of a still-living villain in the floor above. It’s so shockingly, delightfully trashy that you can’t help but feel you’ve already gotten your money’s worth. And Danny Trejo is pitch-perfect as the blank-faced mercenary hell-bent on a revenge mission. He plays it absolutely straight, but just in case you didn’t think he was in on the joke, here he is summing up the plot of the movie for a Lipton ad.

Yet for some reason, Machete is saddled with an incredibly preachy pro-immigration (or, more accurately, anti-anti-immigration) so insultingly low-minded it makes Lindsay Lohan’s cameo as a amateur porn star seem classy. I would say that I generally agree with Rodriguez’s stance in theory, though after the movie I would say I’m much more in favor of building a border wall, so long as it’s a wall between Rodriguez and his computer.

By the way, I know that Jessica Alba is generally perceived as a terrible actress by the movie-going public, but I have to say, after watching this movie, I think she is much worse than people give her credit for.