Austin reviews Robert Rodriguez’s MACHETE KILLS!!!

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Before I go into MACHETE KILLS, I must share my feelings about this whole endeavor.  GRINDHOUSE was my favorite film of 2007!  I fucking loved that movie!  One of the highlights was Robert Rodriguez’s fake trailer for MACHETE, starring criminal-turned-character actor Danny Trejo.  It wasn’t a real movie.  It was just a mock exploitation trailer to get you in the mood for the main attraction.  But when many fans thought that the segment was the best part of the movie, Rodriguez couldn’t resist to make it into a full length feature film.  So in 2010, the first MACHETE movie was unleashed.  Now, I did like it.  Quite a bit actually.  It was a lot of fun.  Did I like it as much as GRINDHOUSE? No, but that’s a hard egg to crack.  MACHETE was exactly what it was supposed to be.  I was pretty pumped (as well as a bit surprised) that a sequel to MACHETE was announced!

MACHETE KILLS starts off with a pre-title sequence that has Machete on a mission with his partner/girlfriend, Sartana (Jessica Alba) that ends badly.  Machete is captured, only to released by the president of the United States (Carlos Estevez aka Charlie “motherfucking”Sheen).  The President sends Machete on a top-secret mission to stop a mad man (Academy Award Nominee Demian Bichir) from shooting missiles at the White House.  Along the way he teams up with a sexy secret agent (Amber Heard), re-teams with the revolutionary Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), and confronts a plethora of baddies, like Desdemona (Sofia Vargera) and her deadly team of whores, a redneck sheriff (William Sadler), a bounty hunter called the chameleon (Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga), and an insane arms dealer who killed Sartana (Mel Gibson).

As you can see, the plot is convoluted and there are too many characters….. which is why this fucking insane movie works.  It achieves exactly what it sets out to be: a batshit crazy, exploitation flick with its tongue planted firmly in cheek.  In fact, the tongue even goes through the cheek.  Where the first one was sort of serious, this one doesn’t pretend to be for a second.  Now, some people might not like this switch in tone, but I found it to be an improvement over the original.  The energy is higher, the action is crazier, and the humor is more evident.  I had a hell of a good time with this.

I love that I live in a world where Danny Trejo can star in a major action movie with Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen supporting him.  How fucking awesome is that!  The pre-title sequence sets up the fact, that this movie is going to be very silly, with Machete chopping off heads (really fake looking heads) and electrocuting scumbags (by putting his machete in a power outlet and using himself as a conductor).  And then the movie just gets more ridiculous after that.  Rodriguez seems to be having a blast coming up with different ways that Machete disposes of bad guys.  There’s also a kind of James Bond-vibe this time around with Machete using gadgets and gizmos as he goes on his mission, while also meeting several femme fatales and eccentric villains.  Someone that I saw the screening with mentioned that it felt like a parody along the same lines of the Austin Powers movies, and it’d be hard to argue with that.  Except instead of Mike Myers beating a joke to death for 10 minutes, most of the punchlines here are gruesome deaths.  Oh yeah, and there’s a sex scene between Machete and Amber Heard that had me rolling.

Danny Trejo will forever be Machete (a character that was actually created in the “often neglected by Robert Rodriguez fans” SPY KIDS series).  Rodriguez and all of the supporting players treat him like a superstar, and he deserves it.  He has such a great presence on-screen.  He was born to play Machete.  With his grim face, full of beautifully tough wrinkles, and dead pan delivery (“Machete don’t tweet”), he’s the perfect hero for an exploitation movie.  The supporting cast is fantastic.  Michelle Rodriguez is great again, in her”tough guy” role.  Amber Heard seems to be having fun as Machete’s sexy new partner.  And I must point out that I think it’s absolutely great that these young chicks throw themselves at the nearly 70-year-old Machete.  That’s part of the gag.

Also in the mix is Demian Bichir as a crazy villain with multiple personalities.  He really hams it up and he’s a joy to watch.  Cuba Gooding Jr, Antonio Banderas, William Sadler, Tom Savini (reprising his role from the first one after his death scene was deleted), Walton Goggins, Lady Gaga, Sofia Vargera, Alexa Vega (looking absolutely smoking hot in assless chaps!  Holy shit!), Vanessa Hudgens and Marko Saror make up the rest of the crazy supporting cast.  They are all clearly having a ball.  Special notice must be made to Mel Gibson, who delivers a terrific, intentionally flat performance as one of the head villains.  It’s so great seeing him go machete-to-machete with Machete.  But for me, my favorite performance has to go to Charlie Sheen as the President.  His foul-mouthed, hooker banging President is brilliant.  Just hearing him say “I’m the mother fucking President of the United States” is pure gold!  I don’t think I’ve seen him this energetic in years.  Bravo to Rodriguez for this shear genius bit of stunt casting.

Director Rodriguez has out done himself this time.  He knows how silly this is and just accepts it.  He relishes in the ludicrousness of the franchise, and brings it up a few levels.  The direction is exactly how it should be.  The action scenes are well crafted too.  My only complaint (which was the same as the first movie) is that since this is a send-up of 70’s exploitation films, I feel like there is too much CGI involved.  I wish he would use practical effects.  But that said, it never really took away from the movie being one hell of a good time.

I must mention one more thing.  My favorite thing in the movie.  Actually, the movie begins with a fake trailer for Machete 3.  And it’s so utterly amazing.  Just the concept of it.  I won’t give it away here (though many other critics have).  Everything about it made me super excited for what was going to come.  The movie ends with a cliffhanger (which is very ballsy as far as I’m concerned), and then ends with some more scenes from the upcoming (I sure hope so!) Machete film.  Now, if I would’ve made this, I would have saved the trailer in the beginning for the end of the movie.  But, it did do a great job getting me in the mood for the movie though, so it’s hard to complain too much about it.

Oh yeah!  And this movie has a surprisingly good amount of Star Wars references throughout!  YES!

Is this a perfect movie?  Um…. duh!  It’s a Machete movie.  It’s not fucking trying to be!  It’s just supposed to be crazy, violent, exploitative fun.  And on that basis, MACHETE KILLS succeeds!  If you didn’t like the first movie, or the fake trailer, or don’t have a love of exploitation movies, then you have no business seeing this.  As for the rest of us sick puppies, MACHETE KILLS is a film geek’s treat.  It’s action-packed, full of nutty performances, and is absolutely hilarious!  Can’t wait for the third one!   ★★★½ (out of ★★★★)

– Rated R For strong bloody violence throughout, language and some sexual content.

– Running time: 1hr 47min.



Categories: Austin Kennedy, Reviews

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