Starring: Danny Trejo (Desperado), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Amber Heard (Drive Angry), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Mel Gibson (Braveheart)
Director: Robert Rodriguez (Sin City)
Writer: Kyle Ward
Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes
Release Date: 11 October (US, UK)
When Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up to make Grindhouse, included in between Planet Terror and Death Proof were several fake trailers. Among such potential classics as Don’t, Thanksgiving and Werewolf Women of the SS was Machete. So popular was this trailer that the full movie was eventually made by Rodriguez in 2010, the end credits of which promised two sequels. Well, here’s the first one.
If you go into Machete Kills actually expecting something meaningful, you’re obviously in the wrong place. Machete Kills throws out any sense of logic and just does whatever the f*** it feels like. Whilst this does often lead to some fun moments, it also means the film is a bit of a disorganised mess. For a film with barely any plot, there is too much going on; too many characters who just come in and out with very little baring on the actual plot. If you cut out everything that doesn’t relate directly to the story, I doubt the film would make it to an hour. I’m perfectly fine with throwing logic and physics out of the window, but you still have to have some sense of cohesion. To top it all off, the film ends on a cliffhanger, setting up for what looks like an infinitely superior sequel. I get the feeling that Rodriguez could only come up with one good idea for a sequel and decided to pull a Hobbit by stretching it out into two. Either way, the film does move at a very fast pace and throws just enough good moments in that you will never be bored. It’s just kind of sad that the best part of the second Machete movie is the trailer for a third Machete movie that may not even get made.
Rodriguez loves shoving his films full of recognizable faces, and Machete Kills is no exception. Trejo is as good as always, but it is clear he’s on his last legs; whether he’ll be fit enough to even do a third movie is questionable. Michelle Rodriguez is the only other major player from the first film to return, but she shows up far too late and doesn’t get much to do until the rushed climax. The rest of the cast seems to just use the movie as an excuse to play it so over the top that they break through the ceiling and/or wear incredibly provocative outfits. Sofia Vergara chews so much scenery that there’s barely any left after her every appearance, but her and her gang of pissed-off prostitutes feel bafflingly useless by the end. The only reason you’ll be glad they were there at all is because it provides you with more opportunities to stare at Alexa Vega’s half-naked body (and then get creeped out when you remember she was the girl from Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series). Amber Heard again also feels like she’s here just for the sex appeal, but a scrap between her and Michelle Rodriguez at the end makes it worth it. Lady Gaga makes her film debut here (playing a role shared with several other name actors) and she doesn’t do a bad job, but her character is again just a superfluous distraction from the plot. Bichir and Gibson ultimately steal the movie as the main villains, providing the right amount of crazy and menacing; considering they’re the “classiest” of the acting talent here, that’s not surprising. Oh, and there’s some guy called Carlos Estavez in the movie. Don’t know much about him, but he certainly looks like he’s winning.
Rodriguez’s films of late have a very homemade feel to them that is now starting to grate. I get it; you’re a notorious Rebel Without a Crew, but your stuff is starting to look even cheaper that the movies you’re paying homage to. Not only does the gore look really fake, it has been considerably toned down from the first one. I know he has a preference for digital filmmaking and doing everything himself, but at this point it’s starting to hurt his films rather than make them cooler. Next time he makes one of these kind of flicks, he needs to shoot it on film, have a decent sized crew and do as much stuff practically as possible. Only then will his films look like a genuine grindhouse product.
Machete Kills is like junk food: fun at the time, but ultimately doesn’t satisfy; it’s easily the least enjoyable of the grindhouse homages. If you’re a Rodriguez fan, there’s just enough for you here for it to be worth a watch; anyone else should just stay away. Machete was a concept that honestly only had one good movie in it, but I still want to see another one is just so I can get some closure. I’m going to give Rodriguez a pass on this one, but if he doesn’t step up his game he could end up killing the notion of intentionally bad movies for everyone.
FINAL VERDICT: 6/10