A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although Machete is directed by Spy Kids' Robert Rodriguez, this movie -- which is based on a fake trailer that Rodriguez created for the 2007 film Grindhouse -- is definitely not for kids. Like some of his other adult-oriented movies, it's filled with crazy violence, gratuitous nudity and sexual innuendo, and strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), as well as drinking and smoking. Though it's well made and actually has a very strong message about racial tolerance, this kind of extreme filmmaking is absolutely adults-only fare.
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What's the story?
Three years ago, a federale (Mexican federal police officer), called Machete (Danny Trejo) watched helplessly as a ruthless gangster (Steven Seagal) murdered his wife. Now, he works as a day laborer on the U.S. side of the border. Machete is hired to assassinate a U.S. senator (Robert De Niro) -- a stern advocate against Mexican immigrants -- but the job turns out to be a setup. Now Machete is on the run, but he has help from a pretty immigration agent (Jessica Alba) and an underground revolutionary leader (Michelle Rodriguez). Enter several nasty killers, a gun-toting priest, and a drug-addled daughter, and it all adds up to a bullet-ridden showdown, with Machete in the middle.
Is it any good?
Springing dubiously from one of the fake trailers in Grindhouse (2007), MACHETE brings director Robert Rodriguez's career full circle and emerges as one of his very best films. He began in 1992 with the low-budget Spanish-language action movie El Mariachi; Machete continues in that vein, but with more resources, more enthusiasm, and more guts.
Rodriguez can sometimes get a bit too carried away with his films and can sometimes forget to invite the audience into his fun -- but Machete captures exactly the right tone; it's fun, shocking, and even has some righteous ideals. Under any conditions, Rodriguez is one of the finest action directors in Hollywood, and his set pieces here are explosive. The amazing, oddball actors are perfectly placed, especially the tough, pockmarked Trejo, who usually plays character parts. All of that said, like the other "Grindhouse" films, Machete is way too violent and sexed up for anyone under 17 -- willfully so.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's intentionally shocking material. Why would the extreme violence of this film be considered entertaining? Is it meant to be taken seriously? How can you tell?
Do you think films like this only appeal to a certain audience? Who is that audience, and why are they drawn to material like this? Are the vintage '60s and '70s exploitation movies that this one was inspired by still relevant today?
What's the significance of Machete being a Mexican-American action hero? Can you think of other non-white action heroes?
Machete has sex with several different women. What are the real-life consequences of that type of behavior?
- In theaters: September 3, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: January 4, 2011
- Cast: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Robert De Niro
- Directors: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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