Machete (18)

Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan

Heralded a few years ago on a fake trailer preceding his own and Tarantino's Grindhouse tribute, Robert Rodriguez's Machete has notable heft in the casting department, a deep affection for B-movie stylings and a powerhouse lead performance by Danny Trejo as the steel-wielding avenger with a face like old baseball mitt.

Yet it proves rather less fun than it ought to be. Setting a ferocious standard of blood-spurting mayhem in its opening scenes, the film alternates its comic-strip storytelling with a preachy line in immigration issues: Don Johnson as a border-patrol vigilante and Robert De Niro as a racist scumbag senator are barely at the level of a cartoon. More salacious appetites will be tickled by the presence of Michelle Rodriguez as a Mexican Bodicea, Jessica Alba as a foxy immigration agent and Lindsay Lohan as, er, a topless nymphet with a drug problem. Unfortunately, even this amount of star-wattage can't dazzle our eyes against its shoddy direction and dismal script.