Movie Review: Machete Kills

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Stars: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard, Demian Bichir, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language and some sexual content , Running time 107 minutes, Action/Comedy

Compare to: Black Dynamite (2009), Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

2010’s Machete was my biggest disappointment cinematically that year. I’d put too much faith in it based on writer/director Robert Rodriguez’s previous “Grindhouse” style film three years before it, Planet Terror and the fake Machete trailer that was attached to it.

Since then, I haven’t watched it because it hurts too much. What should have been a loud, over-the-top bizarre Action/Comedy turned into something much slower, with more of a message than should have been in a movie about a dayworker-turned-assassin.

So does the sequel, Machete Kills, outdo it’s predecessor? Yes, though it’s not like it had a real challenge there.

Machete is still alive, him against the world. Asked by the president to go on a mission to kill a psychotic Mexican revolutionary, Machete accepts. But not all is as it seems as hitmen, the cartel, and several other factions attempt to stop Machete from achieving his goal. But as we all know, if you get in Machete’s way, you’re going to get cut down.

Much like the first one, I wanted to like this one. I wanted to be able to laugh at the intentionally terrible special effects, the purposefully melodramatic lines, and all the cameos Robert Rodriguez could offer.

Ooh look, another celebrity! I'm satisfied!

Ooh look, another celebrity! It’ll do, I guess!

And while he does deliver on all of those fronts, it’s not nearly as well delivered as his first Grindhouse-styled film, Planet Terror. Yet it seem Rodriguez’s ideas haven’t run out, so much as they have refused to bloom.

We’ll see Machete kill men in violent, cheesy ways, calling back to a time when it really was just cool in movies to have something horrible happen to minion #183 and then make a joke about it as though he weren’t an actual person with a mind and a family.

But Machete Kills straddles the line of what is meant to be funny and what’s actually meant to be cool. Sure the Chuck Norris facts are funny, but notice that Chuck Norris became culturally relevant again after the “facts” were popularized. Jersey Shore goons are laughed at, yet their t-shirt sales and products they endorse are just that- sold, because of them. Machete pretends it wants you to laugh at it, when it really just follows all the same cliches as the millions that have come before it while pretending to be a parody.

machete3

Machete prepares a salad.

Read the following-

A mariachi hitman uses a guitar case as a flame thrower, only to use another guitar case as a remote controlled bomb, complete with wheels on the bottom.

This is from Robert Rodriguez’s 2003 film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, one that’s supposed to be less campy, yet still with humor and craziness attached to it. So why is it that Machete Kills also has similar scenes that just feel lazy? Both are all about the one-liners and the action, yet one seems a little more thought out while the other is supposedly saying “Look! We KNOW what we’re doing! Hee hee!” It doesn’t translate well.

"Yes, Mr. President, I accept...mediocrity."

“Yes, Mr. President, I accept…mediocrity.”

Sure, a man’s intestines being thrown into a spinning helicopter propeller right before being sucked into it can be funny, but any moments like that for you to enjoy are few and far between as much of the film is just filler with very little entertaining instances.

Mel Gibson’s portrayal as a giddy mad scientist is enjoyable and Charlie Sheen’s foul-mouthed president is at once boring and amusing.

How so, you ask? How many times have you seen that scenario played up to, serious or otherwise- “You’re the only man for the job! We need you!” Yeah, this a Comedy, but it’s still going through the motions of a movie that isn’t.

So what’s the real problem here? It’s certainly not Danny Trejo, the star of the film. His acting is what it always is, and it’s still fun to know that he came from nowhere to play whatever role is thrown at him, be it an extra in the background to the title character of his own movie…back to being an extra. I just wish this movie were more fun than it is, because I wanted to like it more than I did.

Mel Gibson planning to bow up the world and keeping a disembodied heart alive in a portable chamber? Try harder!

Mel Gibson planning to bow up the world and keeping a disembodied heart alive in a portable chamber? Try harder!

If you’re looking for something similar to Machete Kills, I suggest Black Dynamite. Funny, but quits before you can say you’ve had enough.

Grade: C-

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