Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Robert Rodriguez openly states his passion and love for the Grindhouse era of cinema. He teamed up with Quentin Tarantino in 2007 to bring us the two film feature that included Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof. As an added feature, mock-trailers were included to be played with these films, one of which was Machete. The tough-as-nails Mexican Federale had his first feature in 2010. Danny Trejo returns for the oh-so creatively titled sequel, Machete Kills.
If there was one director that would have the cojones and gusto to keep yesteryear’s nasty genre going, it would be Rodriguez. Rodriguez has proved himself to be a one man film crew. On this film alone he has credits as director, story, cinematographer, film editing and even music. Rodriguez’s style and throwback sensibilities ensure that you’re not only entering a film that is passionate about its influences, but almost careless in its confidence.
Grindhouse, as a genre, is inherently trashy. Full of exploitation films that aim to shock and offend, the genre manages to gather a cult status amongst those that find the comedic value and memorable elements amongst the proceedings. Machete Kills definitely tries its best to tick off the genre’s to-do list. Violence? Check. Gore? Check. Laughable dialogue? Check. Fun? Well…
Machete is recruited by the U.S. government, run by Charlie Sheen as Mr. President (billed as Carlos Estevez), to make his way to Mexico in order to stop an arms dealer who is planning to launch a missile aimed at Washington D.C. Of course, there’s a bigger conspiracy at hand.
Danny Trejo was born to play Machete, he brings a wry sense of humour to his anti-hero and is as likeable as ever here. Demián Bichir is definitely worth a mention. He gives a very entertaining performance as a villain suffering from a multiple-personality disorder. The rest of the cast does what they can with the material and Mel Gibson surprisingly suits this world quite well. Many cast members from the first return, with a lot of new faces added to the mix. Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens and Cuba Gooding Jr. are just some of the new recruits to enter Rodriguez’s Grindhouse franchise.
Machete Kills is unashamedly ridiculous. The film has a lot going for it. A great cast and a passionate director that doesn’t have the big studios weighing down on his decisions. There are some pretty funny moments scattered throughout the film and there are plenty of enjoyable one-liners thrown out. Unfortunately, the humor doesn’t quite withstand the film’s length. While many may start this trip on the film’s wave length, you’ll eventually be cast by the wayside as it goes on to laugh at its own jokes. 107 minutes may not be too long for a movie, but it is for this type of film. The parts are better than the whole, working more as a series of skits than as a feature film.
To Rodriguez’s credit, there’s creativity by the boatload. When he’s not hammering home pro-Mexican immigration protests, he delivers some entertaining action sequences; scenes that are so over the top, they almost seem inspired. How often do you see a man’s intestines attach to helicopter blades, which then drag him in to be diced and sliced? It’s all very gruesome and very violent, but it never feels disturbing or serious.
Machete Kills works as another throwback to Rodriguez’s beloved genre, but it doesn’t quite stand the test of endurance. It definitely outstays its welcome, proudly pushing its signature stylings without creating an ounce of tension or intrigue. It’s a mixed bag of ingredients that amount to varied results.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10