Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Kyle Ward
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Demian Bichir, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Synopsis: Machete (Trejo) is hired by the President of the United States (Sheen) to stop an arms dealer in Mexico intent on launching a missile at the US. Once he finds him, he discovers a larger criminal underground…and outer-space…ground!
It’s no surprise to see Machete back on our screens; at the end of Machete we were promised a return of the Mexican legend in Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again! It is a wonder, however, that Robert Rodriguez has decided to set his attention on the scratchy, blood-soaked B-movie once more. That said, from someone who made Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City has additionally directed all three Spy Kids movies. He isn’t someone to pass down a sequel, however ridiculous it looks in his filmography. This continuation of the fake-trailer-turned-movie was made at a budget of $20 million, a high cost for brief side-splitting inanity in amongst pure trash.
Realistically, most of that $20 million went toward the cast of huge names. There is little else to show for it with effects and basic filmmaking lowered to sub-standards. It’s easy to say, “It looks bad for a reason – that’s its aesthetic”, but whereas Machete mostly aimed at visual ineffectiveness, this one looks as though it’s trying to appear cleaner, with a script noticeably lousy. It ends up looking like a film of the 1950s desperately trying to look epic, crossed with the appearance of a grand 21st century blockbuster.
Set-pieces, the cast, the violence, and the jokes are all overstated – it perfects the “bigger, bolder, better” essence of a sequel. Machete was a terrible film, and so is this, but it is enjoyable. A guilty pleasure in every drop of its (extremely) red blood, many will find this frenetic follow-up unaccountably amazing. Losing yourself is the trick to sticking with it – ignore every ethical and rational oversight and it’s bearable.
Majorly helping the film are select members of the cast clearly enjoying letting themselves go. Oscar winning and nominated actors such as Demian Bichir, Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins and Cuba Gooding Jr. are simply brilliant in their respective roles. The former, especially, brings such energy to the film he basically steals the show. Other notable inclusions such as Charlie Sheen and Antonio Banderas bring a certain charm to the film – with Sheen as PotUS so wonderfully tongue-in-cheek.
Having the story actually go somewhere (a path clearly defined by the trailer for the third film as the prologue) helps somewhat too. There is a goal and incentive written in (surprisingly) so it doesn’t zigzag all over the place. If the first film was foreplay for the climatic third entry, this film is a steady shag.
Machete Kills does what it sets out to do, so marks for its self-referential absurdity. It may highlight money and time misspent – made for fans only – but its impishness has a certain worth. If you can’t like it or love it whatsoever, just think: one more film and it’ll all be over…maybe.
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