Sometimes, when the stars are aligned and God is feeling particularly generous, some too-good-to-be-true piece of cinema news will whip round the internet and the holy grail of ensemble casts will be revealed.
Some may say that, this year, it was The Expendables that stole the spotlight. But behind the call to arms for all “real men” to flock from their gyms to the cinema, replacing popcorn with power bars, another unapologetic action ensemble was quietly picking up speed. The Robert Rodriguez directed film is a throwback to the exploitation movies of the seventies, rather than the eighties action hero heyday. Unlike Stallone’s film, it deals with a powerful and touchy subject, that of immigration, in an innovative and unique way.
To do this, Rodriguez created a brutal Mexican vigilante to star in a film ripped straight from a time before political correctness, designed to disgust (or delight, depending on your level of squeamishness) all in his blood-splattered path. Move over, Sly; Rodriguez and jobbing actor Danny Trejo have crafted the ultimate exploitative action film in Machete. We invite you to meet the team of A-list talent in the film industry’s most expensive practical joke of the year.
Director, producer, co-writer – Machete is the brainchild of Rodriguez. We were first introduced to his deadly day-labourer through a hilarious fake trailer in front of his Grindhouse flick, Planet Terror. It was no throwaway joke, either; Rodriguez had been itching to use the character for a long time, and the film is perfectly tailored to the director’s talents.
Sin City proved he can work with high-profile ensembles, while even Spy Kids (featuring Danny Trejo as another character named Machete) demonstrated his flair for OTT action. All the evidence so far points to the fact that he can deliver the gore-filled goods with this film.
Danny Trejo is just one of those guys that never got a break. With a career that ranged from Desperate Housewives to Anchorman to Predators, his small bit parts have gradually made him a recognisable face as Hollywood’s go-to stereotypical Mexican.
As such, he is the perfect candidate to play the double-crossed assassin who knows the score, gets the women and kills the bad guys. However, this is both a blessing and a curse; having never been a lead, the film rests squarely on Trejo’s broad shoulders. Let’s just hope he can handle it.
As one of the hottest women in film, no exploitation movie is complete without her, surely?
Like Sin City, she seems to be on comfortable ground as a ballsy, unapologetic sex object, but she is hopefully capable of giving a more complex performance.
Robert De Niro
Easily the actor with the highest credentials on the list, and consequently the one with the most to lose.
On the other hand, his very presence gives the film an air of legitimacy as a corrupt, racist senator. Meet the Fockers has demonstrated he isn’t afraid of self-mockery, so hope and pray that he puts his dignity to one side and outrageously ramps up the cheese factor, delivering the goods as only De Niro can.
See Jessica Alba, above.
As the blatantly objectified “nun with a gun”, Lohan is on home ground. Her recognisable fame for reasons outside the industry could always be a blessing in disguise, bringing the film to the attentions of the Myspace generation.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there are not many positive female role models in this film. After all, that is sort of the point. Nevertheless, the Lost and Avatar actress plays a sultry taco-girl that joins Machete’s cause with gusto. She is seen in the trailer in a bikini and eye-patch, wielding a brace of shotguns.
A more accomplished actress then Alba and Lohan, she will presumably be able to find her feet and stand out from the rest of the eye-candy.
The Lawman himself refused Stallone’s offer of a part in The Expendables. However, he is seen in the Machete trailer, going blade-to-blade with Machete in what filmgoers are hoping to be one of the year’s best cameos.
Admittedly, it’s not quite going to top The Expendables as a roster of action superstars. Nonetheless, the heavyweight names of De Niro, Alba, Rodriguez, Seagal and Lohan make for an impressive cast for any film, let alone a fake seventies movie, expanded from a joke trailer.
With a cast like this, I would certainly call that getting lucky. Machete is to be released in the US today, and in November here in the UK. It’s not going to win any Oscars, but if you’re like me and you love the idea of Danny Trejo strapping a Gatling gun to the front of a Harley Davidson, this film is definitely for you.
Follow Matt Evans on Twitter here – @mevs42