BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini, Charlie Sheen, William Sadler, Lady Gaga, Tom Savini, Sofía Vergara, Alexa PenaVega, Amber Heard, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr., Demián Bichir
There is something of a trend at the moment for people to build things up and then knock them down; okay, maybe that’s not a new thing but recently there have been several films that were celebrated once they were announced and then shot down in flames once they were released, despite being the exact thing they said they were. Take Pacific Rim as an example – a trailer was released, everyone rejoiced, film was released and then… backlash as it was “only robots fighting monsters”, which is exactly what the trailer was selling. Machete Kills also fell foul to this kind of negativity by coming off the back of a successful and popular first film that was a very self-aware homage to ’70′s grindhouse and then being criticised for doing exactly what a good sequel should do, and that’s giving you more of what you liked about the first film only in a more explosive way. It seems you just can’t win with some people…
Former federale Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo – Machete/From Dusk Till Dawn) is recruited by US President Rathcock (Carlos Estévez, otherwise known as Charlie Sheen) to go to Mexico and eliminate a psychopathic revolutionary called Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir – Savages), who has a nuclear missile aimed at the US and threatens to fire it if America doesn’t stop the Mexican drug cartels corrupting the government, and in return for completing this mission Rathcock will wipe Machete’s record clean and grant him US citizenship. Machete accepts and soon finds himself in all sorts of trouble the mission leads him to Luther Voz (Mel Gibson – Lethal Weapon/Braveheart), the megalomaniac inventor that was pulling Mendez’s strings, and then Machete gets really mad…
As with Machete the plot is, on the face of it, a simple one but once things get underway several characters are introduced and things take a few twists and turns as different plot threads develop. However, Machete Kills doesn’t get quite as bogged down with the politics that were laced throughout the plot of the first film and keeps things a little less complex with regards to who is who.
But that isn’t to say that Machete Kills doesn’t have moments of depth. Well alright, maybe depth isn’t the right word but there are plenty of satirical jokes and references that give it that all-important awareness, only this time everything is amped up almost to the point of parody but wisely stopping short. Obviously having Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen in the cast is a great help in that department, with both actors hamming it up appropriately. Sheen seems totally in his element by chanelling his father’s role in The West Wing and adding his own brand of humour to the part, and Gibson is the best Roger Moore-era Bond villain that never was.
There are, however, plenty of other notable names that pop up to keep the mayhem going. Walton Goggins (Predators), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Men of Honour), Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas (Desperado) all play one of the disguises of El Chameleón, an assassin out for the bounty on Machete’s head who has a neat line in costume changes, William Sadler (The Mist/Die Hard 2) shows up as a corrupt Sheriff, Sofía Vergara (The Smurfs) appears as the madame of a brothel who leads a team of assassin hookers and Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil) and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead/From Dusk Till Dawn) reprise their roles from the first film, with the question as to what happened to Savini’s character in that film answered. And Danny Trejo does what he does with the same no-nonsense attitude that has become his trademark, and for a man who is 70 years old he looks awesome – surely there’s a role in an Expendables film for him somewhere down the line?
So it has a great cast and a serviceable plot, but why the negativity? Possibly because the film does appear to be a lot cheaper than the first, which it is, but that is what gives it its charm. Grindhouse films were cheap and in this day of CGI blood effects combined with director Robert Rodriguez’s ability to be thrifty with a budget, Machete Kills delivers everything that it – and the first film – promised by looking deliberately and gloriously shoddy. And any film that has a death by intestines getting wrapped around helicopter blades has to get some credit for sheer inventiveness, right?
If you aren’t on board with the aesthetics of grindhouse movies then Machete Kills will go over your head. If you want slick, choreographed action with hyper-realism and Oscar-worthy special effects then there are plenty of Bourne, Bond or Batman films for you to indulge in, but the sheer joy of watching Danny Trejo go bonkers with an electrified machete whilst spinning off the blades of a chopper is worth a lot more than watching Matt Damon wave his arms around whilst you try to work out who is hitting who.
Overall, like Machete, Machete Kills is a little bit too long but the pace never drops and there’s always something happening to stop it becoming boring. The bad special effects, scratchy picture and cheesy dialogue are all part of the experience, emulating those cheap 1970′s action films but with a knowing nod and wink, although it appears that not many mainstream cinema goers were in on the joke. Which is a shame but for those of us in the know, Machete Kills is a joyous celebration of OTT grindhouse goodness that flicks all the right switches.
And speaking of not being boring, the trailer for the potential sequel is shown at the beginning of the film and if the idea of Machete Kills Again… In Space doesn’t fill you with boyish excitement then it is very possible that you’re already dead. Ignore the naysayers, Machete Kills is great fun and a worthy addition to any grindhouse/action movie collection.
Special Features: If Carlos Estevez Were President featurette, Six Degrees of Robert Rodriguez featurette, cast & crew interviews.
UK Release Date: 17th February 2014