Review: Machete Kills
The grizzled killer Machete is called into action by the President of the United States and forced to seek out a crazed Mexican terrorist who has come across a nuclear weapon. A bounty is soon placed on Machete’s head, though, unearthing some seedy and violent killers; and all the while he tries to uncover a plot that is more expansive than initially thought alongside friends old and new.
Danny Trejo returns as Machete, and Michelle Rodriguez reprises her role as his badass ally. Jessica Alba returns for a brief appearance, but just as the first movie had a random cast, so does this one. Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Charlie Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Mel Gibson are here, and they all look to be having some fun. Demian Bichir is pretty great too, playing some evil Mexican gangster as always.
And how! It’s not only the simple and massive knife of his namesake that Machete uses to slaughter; it’s anything nearby, including but not limited to helicopter blades, boat motors, and a nifty little gizmo that turns people inside out.
It’s all that and more in this messy and harmless exploitative action film that is satisfying in dribs and drabs. A sequel to 2012’s Machete, which itself is a full length spinoff of a trailer created as part of director Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse feature Planet Terror, Machete Kills is similarly absurd and bloody. It’s hard not to be when Gaga, Vergara, Banderas, and Gooding Jr. pop in and out to wreak havocand shoot guns, some of which in Ms. Vergara’s case are curiously appropriated
The silliness begins when Machete is ordered by the United States President (played here by Charlie Sheen, credited as Carlos Estevez in one of the many enjoyably easy and subtle jokes in the film) to head down to Mexico to stop a brutal killer with a split personality and a deadly warhead.
He meets Amber Heard, codenamed Miss San Antonio, and Vanessa Hudgens, among many other sexy women in a film that just like Rodriguez’s other works, teases nudity while laying on the sultriness. In Planet Terror¸ damaged reel is the reason for missing out on a Rose McGowan sex scene – here the director uses another clever ploy.
It’s hard to resist some of the dumb, guilty pleasures of Machete Kills, one of which is another fake trailer opening the film, this one promoting the next Machete film before we’ve even seen the second. The other is the casting, which is far more savvy and fun than it should be (especially with Gibson and Sheen, er Estevez).
Perhaps these faces need to appear early and often, for a convoluted storyline, tired action (enough with the Harem Army), and weak one-liners detract from an experience that could be more entertaining. There is a slow revelation as the film nears an end that makes the finale redeeming – let’s just hope that’s where it all actually ends.
Should You See It?
At 107 minutes, Machete Kills stretches thin, but there is enough frivolity and bloodshed to quench the thirst for genre fans.