Stars: Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Tom Savini | Written by Kyle Ward | Directed by Robert Rodriguez
I’ve always been a fan of Robert Rodriguez whether it was Desperado and its sequel or From Dusk Till Dawn, maybe even the Spy Kids movies or Planet Terror. Machete was a film that was born out of a fake Grindhouse trailer and it got the joke, it set the tone correctly and felt just right, flaws and all. Machete Kills is the continuation of the idea and for the most part should work, but how long can the joke go on?
In Machete Kills we again see Danny Trejo as the almost invincible hero as he enters Mexico to kill Marcos Mendez (Demian Bichir) a revolutionary and threat to the USA. Things get complicated when Machete discovers a failsafe to a nuclear missile which means Mednez must stay alive. Kidnapping Mendez Machete must make it back to America with not only most of Mexico wanting him dead, but also a group of assassins and the true mastermind behind the threat to America on his tail.
So if the question was do I like Machete Kills? The answer is yes and no. Demian Bichir is easily the best thing about the movie, he steals the scenes he is in as the maniac with a split personality. Then we have Michelle Rodriguez returning, Danny Trejo being as dependable as ever as Machete and Tom Savini making a re-appearance. These actors are fine and it all works but then we get the cameo appearances which are a mixed bag, with most feeling so shoehorned into the movie that it gets old fast. Lady Gaga for example is out-of-place, and I can’t really comment on her acting ability as she hardly does anything. On the other end of the scale Mel Gibson is perfect as the megalomaniac nemesis to Machete. The rest of the actors fall in the range of good enough to why the hell are they there? Amber Heard for example just either doesn’t really want to be there or doesn’t understand the type of character she is meant to be. Sofia Vergara and Alexa Penavega are others who while not as bad as Heard is, just feel like they aren’t really needed.
Now I can understand the argument that in a so-called “Grindhouse movie” these type of cameos may have been there, but this is a problem with Machete Kills - it feels like a movie that no longer wants to be what Machete once was. If anything I’d actually call this Spy Kids for adults, which will give you an idea of just how this movie works. This would be a good concept, if the film wasn’t so long. Coming in at almost two hours, the first thirty minutes is a good “Machete” movie, with a middle section that just goes too serious, then with a finale hampered by the fact the movie lasted too long. Cut it down to about ninety minutes cut out some cameos and characters (Lady Gaga for example) and pace it better and this would have been more enjoyable.
The fact is I like many parts of Machete Kills, I even laughed at some of the parts which were meant to be comical but the joke of what Machete is meant to be is wearing thin, especially when the film starts to take itself too seriously. With many nods to films like Star Wars and the James Bond movies, Machete Kills does feel like it’s shouting at “film geeks” trying to convince them it’s a film made for their enjoyment, and some of the gags are funny in that knowing sense – it’s just a shame if anything it doesn’t get its own joke and what Machete is meant to be.
I wanted to like Machete Kills and in many ways I do and hope others do too, and don’t agree with my opinion. What I doubt though is that there will be a third movie in this franchise. I know hints are given blatantly at the start of the movie and the way it ends is pushing towards another (or it’s just yet another attempt at a joke) but I doubt there is enough material left to stretch this one out. There are moments that work well and Machete Kills is worth a watch even if it’s just for the performances by Mel Gibson and Demian Bichir, but the joke is now way too thin.
Machete Kills is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on February 17th.