Machete Kills (Review)

machete-kills-new-poster-and-13-new-photos-1Machete was born from a two minute deliberately cheesy fake trailer sandwiched between the Grindhouse films. The brainchild of low budget, big ideas Robert Rodriguez, it wasn’t too surprising when it was blown out to create an amusing and exhilarating slab of B movie goodness starring Danny Trejo, a man previously relegated to roles as henchmen and criminals. After all, Rodriguez has made three movies about the same guitar wielding assassin El Mariachi, four about young kids who are spies, and his Planet Terror left Death Proof from the more highly fancied (by critics and himself) Quentin Tarantino, in the shade.

So why not a sequel to Machete? On the surface there are a billion reasons for it. Unfortunately now that it has arrived, I can only think of reasons against it…

Despite an initial plot line that seems simple and effective enough; US President (Charlie Sheen) asks Machete to locate and kill a bi-polar Mexican terrorist who has a missile targeting Washington – the film suffers from Rodriguez’ own personal Kryptonite… too many ideas.

There are so many actors lines up to lampoon their images and indulge themselves with wilful silliness in this high profile hamtomime, hoping that they can be Tarantino’d to prominence Travolta style (hello Lady GaGa!). Decisions. Decisions. Who to leave in? Who to politely decline? Rodriguez decides to include them all, ultimately even combining some in the exact same role as a dangerous assassin (he’d be a lousy chef, everything would be a gumbo containing every item of food in his house.)

By the time ‘surprise guest’ Mel Gibson racistly rocks up, we’re too gasped out with this hundred minute multi-character Mexi-Cannonball Run. And his performance and role isn’t much to write home about anyway.

Rodriguez also has too many ideas in the action sequences, and too many toys to bring them to life. The film does not benefit from the increased reliance on CGI. In fact it suffers because of it. In the past Rodriguez would come up with more organic effects, with the sparing CGI only padding out and capping off key moments.

Desperado had many incomparable scenes full of over the top histrionics and adrenaline fuelled action, and Rodriguez can still pull of a good one (he still has the best ‘two second filler’ moments in action cinema), but there is more duplication and failed experimentation here than in any film this side of Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Sure severed heads and big explosions go a long way – and this film might have you wondering just how many rounds an already straining D-cup holds – but there aren’t many moments that will linger long after the film ends.

Danny-Trejo-in-Machete-Kills-2013-Movie-ImageTrejo still tries hard as Machete. He is a tanned and buff island of grim stoicism amid the silliness which grows to proportions resembling Austin Powers, only without the dance numbers. This time around though he is swamped with a glut of cartoonish characters, and a plot that grows so complicated that it requires numerous lengthy pauses for explanation. It’s as if even the film itself is trying to work things out on the fly. Machete Kills is dangerously close to becoming a parody of a parody. Some of it is delightfully tacky, most though just regular tacky.

We are seeing more ill conceived and unnecessary sequels released every year, despite not even needing to exist. Some, like the recent Red 2 and Kick-Ass 2, are merely pale imitations of the original. Machete Kills is one of the more disappointing as Rodriguez has the ability to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. He couldn’t do it with this oinker…

When Machete talks – which isn’t often – it is usually to tell us what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t text. He doesn’t tweet. He doesn’t joke. Unfortunately Machete Kills proves he no longer entertains.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Machete Kills is like a precocious toddler. It is energetic, wants to do everything now, is prone to dramatic changes of mood, and regardless of your attentiveness and best efforts; it seems hell bent on doing things that will harm itself.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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