When a normal film buff considers movies about nuns, the first titles that spring to mind are Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of Saint Mary’s or perhaps Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story. But, as most people who know me can attest, I am not a normal film buff. Hell, most people would be hard-pressed to describe me as normal.
That is why when I think about movies with nuns, my mind immediately pictures Kathleen Freeman in The Blues Brothers or Shirley MacLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara. Or, in this case, Lindsay Lohan in Machete — not technically a nun but rather April, the spoiled, drug-using daughter of Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), a local businessman running the campaign of state Sen. John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro).
Booth is also secretly in league with Mexican drug cartel kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal), and to increase profits, they plan to get McLaughlin elected so he can erect an electrified, border-securing fence and make it more difficult to bring drugs into the United States — thus boosting the demand (and price) for Torrez’s illicit product. Standing in their way is Danny Trejo’s Machete, a former Federale, who, three years earlier, was lured into a trap by Torrez, watched as his wife was murdered, and was then left for dead by Torrez and his henchmen.
Considering that Robert Rodriguez’s movie — a throwback paean to 1970s exploitation films — was released in 2010, you’d think Rodriquez had the ability to see into the future. In this campaign, McLaughlin calls Mexicans who illegally cross the border “bugs” and “cockroaches.” Along with border vigilante Von Jackson (Don Johnson) and his ragtag militia, McLaughlin also hunts and murders such people who have crossed into the United States. Six years later, a presidential candidate who shall remain nameless ran on a fear campaign of denigrating people who sought a better life in the U.S. and vowed to build a wall to keep them out.
I digress. Sorry. So, how does Lohan figure in all of this? Well … Machete, originally hired by Booth to assassinate McLaughlin, is actually set up to take the fall when one of Booth’s henchmen wounds McLaughlin in the knee in order to bolster his poll numbers. As Machete goes around killing people and trying to figure out what the hell is going on, he drugs and kidnaps April and her mother, June … but not before having a three-way with them, videotaping it and leaving the video for Booth to watch. Machete then stashes April and June — both still totally naked — in an anteroom in his brother’s San Antonio church.
April awakes to a news report that McLaughlin fatally shot her father. Shocked and naked, April looks for some clothing, sees a nun’s habit hanging on a hook in the room and dons it. Rodriguez dollies in on April’s eyes and you see murder in them. Fade out.
Later, during the final confrontation between Jackson’s followers and the Network (a group of Mexican immigrants and supporters), April, robed in the nun’s habit, jumps out of a truck, picks up an automatic weapon and begins shooting. She confronts McLaughlin and puts a few bullets into him, believing she has killed him and avenged her father.
Lohan’s role is small, but it is interesting and vital. She is a wild card. It’s also obvious that Fahey’s Booth has lustful thoughts about his daughter, which she sarcastically mocks. But there is a bond between them. After all, he goes to one of his drug houses and kills all the workers there simply to rescue his daughter.
April is no saint, but she does turn out to be an avenging angel. And her mowing down many of Jackson’s vigilantes while dressed in her habit simply emphasizes that concept.
In retrospect, Machete is a movie that was ahead of its time. And Lohan’s supporting role helps move the movie’s concept along. Imagine the increase in enrollment at parochial schools nationwide if all nuns looked, acted and could shoot as straight as Lindsay Lohan.