In the first 10 minutes of this movie, before the beginning credits start to roll, I counted the following things happening on screen: 3 decapitations, 5 head shots, one death by electrocution, one bad guy split in half from head to dick and a whole lot of machete killing. All of this happens in the first 10 minutes of Machete Kills and it hacks away at the audience until the blade is dull and the 106 minute runtime is finished.
Robert Rodriguez certainly has a way of upping the ante with his fake grindhouse trailer turned movie franchise starring Danny Trejo as the titular Mexican badass to end all Mexican badasses. Trejo returns to the Machete in Machete Kills, a star studded romp that feature more of everything. A bigger plot involving psycho dictators/revolutionary played by Demian Bichir (Mendez) and a madman billionaire tech giant played by Mel Gibson called Voz, whom are all hell bent on destroying the world, Machete must save the day and his own ass from a legion of hitmen, clones, and rednecks with itchy trigger fingers.
What worked well for the original Machete was that it was reveling in the wonderful idea of taking a fake trailer made for the Grindhouse feature that Rodriguez and Tarantino did and turning into a ridiculous movie. It was fun, had some heavy handed political tongue-in-cheek feel and had a dynamite cast that all felt perfectly developed in their own little world. Machete Kills…not so much striking gold again. Now I walked out of the movie with a smile on my face, enjoying the over-the-top action sequences that are relentless in the film, but something didn’t sit right with me.
Danny Trejo is still his usual self, saying very few lines that solidify Chingon status, but everything else around him felt, well, forced. It’s as if Rodriguez didn’t change anything about the man known as Machete, but turned up the volume on all the cameos and star casting that it felt like a factory churning out ancillary bodies to be cut down with a machete blade. When you cast includes the following people: Charlie Sheen (Carlos Estevez), Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Walton Goggins, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Alexa Vega, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr. and good old Tom Savini, I guess you pigeon hole yourself to quick glances and truncated screen time in order to get all those people into the movie. It’s a bloated film that introduces so much stuff that the storyline and movie is relegated to these “hey look it’s so and so” moments. Now it was fun seeing all these people on screen, but I find myself asking, “What’s the point of their role?” The El/La Chameleon role played by Goggins, Gooding, Gaga and Banderas wasn’t really a consistent threat to Machete. It’s a character role that isn’t needed, but I did at least enjoy seeing Goggins in this movie.
For all the stars in the movie and clusters that this causes, Machete Kills is still a really fun movie to watch. There is a lot more humor derived from the reluctant hero and the villains are so mustache twirly that I just couldn’t help but laugh at the way Mel Gibson just hammed it up on screen. Rodriguez certainly gives the audience those nibbles of comedy from the situations that the hero faces and the action scenes are nice meal on their own. The body count is ludicrous and satisfying, Machete just demolishes henchmen like nothing else, and it’s just plain fun.
I am conflicted when having to think back on this movie and rating it. On one hand the movie certainly scratches my itch of wanting to see more Danny Trejo in movies, that much is certain. A man, who looks the part of a henchman in almost any movie, has become an action star in his own right. Trejo is just flat out a joy to watch on screen because you can tell he just loves this sort of thing. I like that in an actor and especially one such as Trejo. On the other hand, the movie sets itself up for a shortcoming that we will have to wait until the third movie, yes a third movie, to get some sort of grand finale. I don’t know if it was a detriment to the movie to have a fake grindhouse trailer that showcases Machete Kills…IN SPACE, but I was certainly looking forward to that movie more than what was given to us here. A lot of a good thing can be bad sometimes, but I think overloading the casting with so many actors who had a total of maybe 5-10 minutes of screen time each wasn’t helpful and made the movie feel jumpy from scene to scene. The gooey bits of eviscerated flesh and carnage was a whole lot of fun to watch ridiculous shit go down, but while the bodies pile up, Machete Kills still seems like there was more to cut through in the end.
Rating: 3 Machetes out of 5
By Nick Guzman