Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Demian Bechir, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga
Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins
Release Date: October 11, 2013
PLOT: Super man Machete (Trejo) must stop a schizophrenic Mexican leader (Bechir) from blowing up America, and an evil supergenius (Gibson) from blowing up the world.
WHO’S IT FOR? Chances are if you are buying a ticket for this one, you know what you’re going to get.
Rhymed by the dead silence he earns for his new dud “Machete don’t … ” catchphrase additions, the character Machete is a trailer-long joke whose amusement has doubly passed. Trejo’s acting is upstaged by the excessive wear-and-tear on his face (the dude was in prison before he became an actor!), regardless as to the size of the title weapon that he swings like a tree limb blowing in the wind.
It’s not very often that title heroes in bloody romps are some of the less interesting characters. Rodriguez’s recognizes this phenomenon by showing off some stunt work from a casting director whose work goes uncredited in both the film’s press notes and on IMDb.
Such is to be found in Demian Bechir, a talented actor who provides the necessary charisma needed for most of the film, as the script requires him to create a charismatic force with Machete in every scene until he is out of the picture. As for the smoother choices within Rodriguez’s latest playtime, the casting of a wide-eyed Mel Gibson is one of them. Guilty of expository dialogue reserved for James Bond villains, Gibson does well with dry delivery and refreshing lack of self-seriousness. With a few extra screws loosened to a twinkle in his eye, Gibson exposits things like, “I turned science fiction into science reality!”
Keeping his story busy with a cast, Rodriguez has no problem accommodating small parts, catering to the presence of whoever he can throw into the story mix, regardless of the damage it might have to story pacing. Antonio Banderas, for example, gets five minutes to dick around before dropping out. Sofia Vergara gets her own useless and disturbing monologue, which builds her pulpy seductress to no established end. Rodriguez’s former Spy Kid Alexa Vega shows up, she doesn’t do much. Lady Gaga makes her first big screen appearance, and it’s all to hold a gun in a certain way, playing a character engineered to create cameos, which then leads to star power.
With due regards to the crazier shit that happens in this movie, often involving our concrete slab hero cutting people’s heads off, Machete Kills does benefit from trying to redeem the type of madcappery that Crank borrowed from Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time in Mexico, etc. – that all characters can survive the worst violence if the mighty script needs them alive. With this endlessness in place, the violence in Machete Kills is best as a joke than it is spectacle, which only goes so far. How many times can helicopter blades kill bad guys before it’s old hat?
In the midst of turning numerous stars into wannabe action figures, Rodriguez continues to hot-button mash on the subjects of women, weapons, and the Wall, all of which compel him but none of which inspire a cohesive though; he just wants to show them. Oh, you’re showing us women that are empowered because they become men, literally, with gun dicks? Oh, there’s a giant wall between U.S. and Mexico that is diving everyone? Ok.
Similar to watching Tarantino’s weaker moments, it’s Rodriguez who is the most curious star here, this time as we watch a freewheeling filmmaker load up with a cast that doesn’t have much to work with, parade around a character actor in a lead role that offers for weak action, and show us that the more adventurous sequel that hasn’t been made yet but maybe it will be. Yet with enough surprises popping up throughout, Machete Kills is apt for its low, 2 AM standards. Enabled by his own Rodriguez Unchained freewill, Machete Kills runs amok within itself, usually trying too little to be so bad.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10