Machete is back and doing what he does best – killing the bad guys in a variety of creative ways. Danny Trejo once again nails the character and holds his own against Mel Gibson in supervillain mode. The film doesn’t raise the franchise past its knockoff grindhouse roots, but fans will continue to find plenty to love.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez (from a story he wrote with Marcel Rodriguez) and with a screenplay from Kyle Ward, Machete Kills sees Trejo and Gibson joined by a huge ensemble cast that includes Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara (who is so over-the-top she steals the entire movie), Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega, Tom Savini, William Sadler, Jessica Alba, and Cheech Marin.
Once again with its tongue firmly implanted in its cheek, Machete Kills finds our knife loving hero Machete called into action to save the world against from Mexican terrorist Marcos Mendez (Bichir), who is planning on firing a nuclear missile on Washington, D.C.
In San Antonio, Machete is introduced to his handler “Miss San Antonio” Blanca Vasquez (Heard) who sends him below the border to find Cereza (Hudgens), and then to face-off against Mendez.
It doesn’t take long for Machete to figure out there is more to Mendez than meets the eye and that he is not the bad guy everyone thinks he is – even if he does suffer from a split personality and one of them is a complete psychopath.
The film’s real villain is Luther Voz (Gibson) and he has plans to cause nuclear war while he and a select few people head off to space to recreate the world in his vision. Along with Voz, Machete also gets the joy of dealing with a top assassin who goes by El Chameleón – who is a blast to watch as he changes his faces throughout the movie.
Machete Kills is not a film everyone will love and it assumes the audience is already in on the joke. The franchise was born from a fake trailer that appeared on Rodriguez’s 2007 double feature Grindhouse film he did with fellow director Quentin Tarantino. The Machete trailer was so loved, it spawned a movie of its own in 2010 and saw the main character taking on various social issues (like illegal immigration and racism) in his own unique and bloody style.
The sequel continues the same styles and themes established in the first film, but this time they seem a little too over-the-top. Trejo knows this character, and doesn’t attempt anything like character development to change him (although Machete does now text). The sequel also makes the character an unstoppable killing machine. He simply can’t be stopped – no matter how many times Vergara’s Desdemona fires bullets and missiles from her various weapon-packing bras.
Although it stumbles from time to time, Machete Kills is saved by Gibson’s gonzo performance as the film’s supervillain. The talented actor/director seems to be having the time of his life being as bad as he can be against Machete. It isn’t the best performance of his career, but it is a blast to watch. The film also benefits from the El Chameleón – who gives Machete Kills a chance to show of its impressive cast.
Although it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, Machete Kills is a little light on bonus material. It does come with yet another fake Machete trailer (which sees our hero heading to space for his next adventure) and deleted/extended scenes. There is also a “behind the scenes feature.
Machete Kills isn’t as good as the first film, but fans of the franchise will find plenty to love. Rodriguez and Trejo know this character and what franchise fans want from him. It also benefits from Gibson (who makes the most of every moment he is on screen) and the other huge stars that appear in the film.