No, not Machete, the blade-wielding, vengeance-minded hero of the action thriller that opens Friday. Rather, the provocateur and co-writer/co-director of 'Machete,' Robert Rodriguez, who has infused his tongue-in-cheek exploitation film with an angry political polemic about immigration policy.
Rodriguez made a point of promoting the film a few months ago with a trailer that called out the state of Arizona for its controversial new immigration-policing law, stoking fears among anti-illegal immigration hardliners that the finished movie would be even more inflammatory than it is. It also prompted the state of Texas to consider withholding filmmaker tax incentives from Rodriguez, a move that could have a devastating impact on movie production in a state that has become a haven for independent filmmaking thanks largely to Rodriguez himself. And it could well stir up an anti-immigrant fervor that could hurt the film at the box office or even impact this fall's Congressional elections. That's a lot of backlash for one little movie full of laughably over-the-top violence and sexuality, but then, Rodriguez and his crew have hardwired outrage into 'Machete,' so they can't be too surprised if it riles people.