Latest Machete Kills the Franchise
After a mission goes tragically wrong and a nuclear missile is dropped into the arms of a madman, the President of the United States (Carlos Estevez, a.k.a. Charlie Sheen) calls upon superhuman Mexican ex-Federale Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) to stop him before it’s too late. Heading back across the border with the aid of undercover Special Agent Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard), he ends up learning about a conspiracy linking mentally deranged former cartel boss Mendez (Demian Bichir) with maniacal American inventor and arms dealer Voz (Mel Gibson). The pair are in cahoots, their plot having universal repercussions that puts the fate of the planet in jeopardy, only the bloodthirsty Machete capable of stopping them.
The original Machete was a gag to begin with, born from a faux trailer conceived for the fake exploitation double-feature Grindhouse directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Taking things to the next level, Rodriguez went ahead and made a feature-length production out of the idea, and while the 2010 movie featuring an all-star cast (including Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan) was a moderate success, I can’t say the world was screaming for a sequel.
Yet here we are, three years later, and Rodriguez and Trejo are back, while Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Tom Savini are just three of the names who decided to come back for second ride alongside of them. They’ve also increased the megastar stunt-casting, Gibson, Heard, Sheen and Bichir not the only ones who thought they’d join in on the mayhem. William Sadler, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Sofía Vergara, Walton Goggins, Vanessa Hudgens and Alexa Vega are also on hand, each throwing their respective hat into this ring of homicidal chaos seemingly for the heck of it and little else.
If there was any charm to be found the first time around (or sixth time, depending on how you want to look at it, Trejo playing this character seven times now having appeared as Machete in four Spy Kids adventures, one fake trailer and, obviously, that 2010 release) it’s pretty much gone now. Machete Kills isn’t so much a as it is a case study in tedium and excess. Rodriguez and his team are going through the motions, milking a camp grindhouse idea that’s sadly played out.
Not that there aren’t some mildly amusing moments. Bichir, in particular, seems to be having a grand time tapping into exactly what it is Rodriguez is attempting, his intriguing split personality character good for a handful of tiny laughs. Gibson and Sheen also have a great time sending up their perceived personas, and while neither is doing their respective careers a favor by acting in this, I can’t say they’re hurting themselves all that much, either.
But for every inventive idea there are countless pathetic ones, the director having a heck of a time maintaining anything approaching momentum as he moves things towards their inevitable cliffhanger conclusion. The fact all of this is a bunch of nonsense isn’t surprising; that it ends up being so frustratingly boring is. Rodriguez and Trejo may love Machete Cortez, and that’s just fine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hope they’re finally done with the character, Machete Kills not worthy of more than a minute or two of anyone’s time.
Film Rating: 1½ (out of 4)