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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 41.18%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy52.94%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Machete Kills
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Plenty Of Guts, Little Glory"
2 stars

Under normal circumstances, you make the movie and when principal photography is completed, then you hold the wrap party. In the case of "Machete Kills," Robert Rodriguez's super-violent and super-silly continuation of his Mexploitation action epics that began with a hilarious fake trailer that was one of the highlights of the cinematic experience that was "Grindhouse" and was later spun off into the 2010 feature "Machete," it often feels as if they skipped the formal film production entirely and simply filmed the party instead. Based on the available evidence, Rodriguez is an awesome host to his invitees--he keeps the members of his decidedly eclectic guest list busy and they all seem to be having a good time throughout--but when it comes to entertaining his guests in the audience, his skills are somewhat more suspect because he expends so much energy in attempting to convince them that they are having fun as well that both the film and its viewers wind up utterly exhausted long before it finally drags itself across the finish line.

Continuing the further adventures of the seemingly unkillable and always taciturn former Federale and current all-purpose badass known only as Machete (Danny Trejo), the film kicks off with our hero decimating hordes of bad guys, suffering a great personal tragedy and being saved from hanging by a last-minute reprieve from none other than the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen, billed under his given name of Carlos Estevez)--all before the opening credits, no less--before being given a mission that he cannot possibly refuse. Crazed Mexican revolutionary Marcos Mendoza (Demian Bichir) has acquired a nuclear missile and is preparing to fire it directly at the White House within 24 hours. Machete's mission is to go down to Acapulco in order to infiltrate Mendoza's compound, disarm the missile and get rid of Mendoza once and for all. In exchange, Machete will be given a clean slate and American citizenship for his troubles.

Machete gets to Mendoza easily enough but makes a couple of discoveries that cloudy up his mission. The first is that Mendoza, a one-time honest cop driven around the bend by the murder of his wife and child before his eyes, has developed a split personality that changes at the drop of a hit--at some times, he is a decent man with a passion for helping to fight oppression and at others, he is a demented psychopath who makes Tony Montana seem practically Buddhist by comparison. The other is that the trigger for the nuclear missile is wired directly to his heart and that any attempt to separate the two will result in automatic detonation. The only person who can disarm the device is the man who created it, demented weapons manufacturer Luther Voz (Mel Gibson. . .yes, Mel Gibson) and so Machete is forced to race against time to sneak himself and Mendoza, who keeps ping-ponging between his god and bad incarnations, back into America and get him to Voz before everything goes boom. To make matters even more complicated, Bad Mendoza has put out a $10 million dollar bounty on himself in order to get things going quicker and that brings any number of new players out of the woodwork for our hero to deal with in his own inimitable fashion.

The films of Robert Rodriguez run the gamut from the great ("El Mariachi" and "Sin City") to the downright embarrassing ("The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl" and "Shorts") but Rodriguez approaches each one with an avalanche of ideas and the kind of energy level that suggests a jackrabbit with a serious meth habit. What separates the good from the bad is that with the good ones, Rodriguez is able to bring some focus and clarity to both so that he can tell a story that is consistent and consistently entertaining from start to finish. With the bad ones, he has no such control over either aspect and he burns through them so quickly and heedlessly that he runs out of both long before the midway point and is then forced to crank everything up to 11 and beyond in the hopes of distracting viewers from the fact that he is pretty much going on fumes for the remainder of the running time. You don't need to be a hard-core auteurist to recognize that "Machete Kills" is the worker of the latter Rodriguez. This is, after all, the kind of guy who comes up with a very funny running gag involving an assassin known as The Chameleon who assumes a number of very familiar faces and then cheerfully blows the gag by revealing their identities in the commercials instead of letting viewers discover them for themselves.

Like the previous installment, the basic idea is amusing in theory but what worked brilliantly as a 2-minute fake trailer--one that could ignore such notions as plot or narrative cohesion and just present a rapid-fire compilation of the Good Parts--does not necessarily stretch to cover a feature running nearly two hours. Pitting Machete against a character who is half benevolent and half psychotic, for example, is a nifty idea that another filmmaker might have developed at length but Rodriguez has so little patience in this regard that it is completely used up and spit out before the film is even half over and from that point on, it switches gears and becomes a James Bond parody/knockoff. Even this might have been excusable if the Bond movie in question wasn't "Moonraker," one of the weakest entries of the entire series. If Rodriguez wanted to rip off a Bond film, why couldn't he have picked "The Man with the Golden Gun"? That one, you will recall, featured Christopher Lee as an international assassin whose chief distinguishing characteristic was, of all things, a superfluous nipple. Then again, considering that the gun-toters in the cast include the likes of Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Alexa Vega and, perhaps inevitably, Lady Gaga, perhaps Rodriguez that a superfluous nipple amidst the pulchritude already on display would be. . .well, superfluous.

What fun there is to be had in "Machete Kills" comes from watching Rodriguez's crazy-quilt cast as the bounce off of each other in bizarre and unexpected ways. With the major exception of Amber Heard, who is trying just a little too hard to be wacky for her own good without having the comedic chops to pull it off, most of the rest of the players find the right level of tongue-in-cheek absurdity for their characters and let it rip. As in the earlier film, Trejo is a stone-faced delight as Machete and demonstrates enough undeniable on-screen charisma to make one wish that other filmmakers would give him a chance with a lead role. Likewise, Bichir and Gibson, in the other key roles, actually put some effort into their parts and the film is better for it--Bichir somehow manages to find an actual note of poignance and realism to the otherwise cartoonish proceedings while Gibson, on the other end of the scale, is hilariously over-the-top as Voz. No matter what you may think about the guy on a personal level, you will have to admit that he certainly gives this film all that he has and then some.

If forced to choose between the two--and I don't have the option to pick something a little more quiet, subtle and refined (the Metallica movie, perhaps)--I suppose that I would deem "Machete Kills" to be a slight improvement over the original, if only because the non-stop goofiness on display is slightly more palatable than the first one's occasionally awkward attempts to highlight the plight of immigrants amidst the carnage. However, this is a joke that has long exceeded its shelf life and even those who actually came out of "Machete" wanting more will find this one to simply be much too much of something wasn't all that great in the first place. However, if common sense chooses to elude you long enough to decide that you want to see this film after all, allow me to offer you two pieces of advice--be sure to get there on time and do not under any circumstances forget to bring along your 3D glasses.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24747&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/10/13 22:22:12
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2013 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

12/06/13 Pearl Bogdan I didnt like this movie at all but fans of bad movies will probable love it 2 stars
11/20/13 The Big D Sofia Vergara's great as a psychotic (but lovable) dominatrix--she's the reason to see it! 4 stars
10/19/13 mr.mike Only saw the second half. Not good. 2 stars
10/12/13 KingNeutron Loved it - Bichir and Gibson were awesome, Vega and M.Rodriguez were hot, much lolz :) 5 stars
10/12/13 David H. Why make another one? 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Oct-2013 (R)
  DVD: 21-Jan-2014

UK
  11-Oct-2013 (15)

Australia
  03-Oct-2013 (MA)
  DVD: 21-Jan-2014




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