Machete is back and this time…he kills! Well, okay he’s been doing plenty of that, but this time…he really kills! A lot. Cause he’s Machete! Okay, this is getting out of hand here..
Machete was a film that started out as a fake-trailer that was part of the anthology project Grindhouse but became so popular that director Robert Rodriguez turned it into a feature-length movie (something he probably wanted to do anyway). In a way it was a one-joke movie but it was a pretty good joke and made for a hilarious 90-minute bit of craziness, complete with awesome one-liners and silly guest appearances (Robert De Niro! Steven Seagal!) and thankfully went all the way in being ridiculous. At the end of the film sequels were advertised and Rodriguez has kept his promise as we have now have a sequel in Machete Kills (and the third film, “Machete Kills Again… In Space!”, is teased here as well).
This time around Machete has to stop a war between the U.S. and Mexico from happening and then stop the world from being blown up!
Machete Kills is pretty much what you would expect from a Machete sequel and of course it doesn’t match the original film. Rodriguez has raised the stakes and upped the ante in craziness, as well as adding even sillier cast members to the mix (Mel Gibson as the bad guy! Charlie Sheen as the president, here billed as Carlos Estevez! (his birth name) and Lady Gaga!). But the whole thing is also flimsier, dumber and simply not as fresh as the original. The gag has lost a little steam.
Still, Machete Kills nonetheless makes for a pretty decent time at the movies. There are plenty of laughs to be had (like when Machete is hanging with a noose around his neck and doesn’t even flinch!) and Rodriguez keeps throwing ridiculous stuff at you so it’s hard to be bored by Machete.
Rodriguez also has the good sense to fill this film with good and/or interesting actors and you can largely thank them that this movie works as well as it does. Danny Trejo is badass as always as Machete but the standouts here are Oscar-nominee Damian Bichir and Mel Gibson as the two main baddies. Bichir gets the right tone with a nice mix of silly and crazy (there’s a thin line between the two) and Gibson is just…Gibson. Maybe one of the world’s most disliked celebrities could revitalize his career by playing totally evil bad guys from now on.
Ultimately Machete Kills is a rather thin film with a flimsy plot and often takes its time to get going with large stretches of not much happening. The films attempts at taking itself seriously and trying to have something to say about the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico just don’t gel very well with the ridiculousness that surrounds it, making the film a bit messy tonally. The pacing often slags and it’s like Rodriguez is unsure of himself or doesn’t trust the film to be carried purely by its batshit insanity. The sillier this film is the better it works. Especially when Rodriguez is just paying nods to his influences, like having Gibson driving around in a hovercar just like the one Luke Skywalker drove in Star Wars.
At the very least he has the good sense to end this on a high note with the ending practically begging for a sequel. But since this film was a huge dud at the box office that’s not to so likely to happen. But surely Rodriguez will still find a way and if he actually manages to make a film titled Machete Kills Again… In Space, it will be a minor miracle, even if it sucks. And judging by the teaser it should be good for a few chuckles at least. In a world of seven Police Academy films, seven Saw films and five Resident Evil films, having three Machete films wouldn’t be so bad.
Final Verdict: Machete Kills is more of the same and not as fresh and funny as the first film, sometimes taking itself a bit too seriously and a bit messy in terms of tone and pacing. But a great cast makes it work, just about, and there enough laughs to keep you from being bored. A decent timewaster.