I was always told that if there isn’t a lot to write about a subject, don’t tax the reader by padding out an article. Nothing could be truer of this advice than my review of the newest release, Machete Kills.
I suppose some folks are going to criticize this critique because I do not appreciate (at least as much as they do) the insipid silliness of the first installment, “Machete,” from 2010. If that is the case, they will be equally distressed then to learn I did not care for this particular movie, either. Machete Kills, like its predecessor, is based on a three-minute “trailer” introduced in the 2007 homage to 1970s cinema, “Grindhouse” and by all that is logical, it should have stayed in that format.
Other faux trailers included “Don’t,” “Thanksgiving” and “Werewolf Women of the S.S.,” and while they were all certainly better than the two main films (“Planet of Terror” and “Death Proof“), they were never meant to be actual full-length motion pictures (director Robert Rodriguez had different idea with this one, obviously). With Danny Trejo (the bartender in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy“) in the lead as a former Federale from Mexico who gets hired to do hatchet jobs in the U.S., this was actually originally written as a feature movie in the early 1990s before “Grindhouse” was ever made.
It’s round-about journey to the big-screen was a logical conclusion, and while the first was praised as playfully ridiculous and a violent tongue-in-cheek satire on Mexploitation films, this sequel is a long, drawn-out series of mind-numbing beheadings, choppings, limb-hackings and gore-splattering scenes that would make a death camp survivor long for the good old days. For whatever plot one would want to attach to this farce, Machete Cortez is trying to stop a pair of madmen (Demian Bichir and Mel Gibson, and their hundreds of hapless henchmen) with a nuclear device from taking over the world at the behest of the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen in another example of just how far his star has fallen).
Because of the limited structure and concept of this enterprise, Trejo (whose craggy face makes Charles Bronson look like Jennifer Lawrence) is not required to act, only to simply look pissed off and throw large knives at people (much like Bronson did in most of his films). Even as parody, Machete Kills is sadly lacking in any comic or inventive stylings and the inside joke wears thin long before the credits roll.
Even the inclusion of recognizable faces such as Antonio Banderas (“The Skin I Live In“), Jessica Alba (“Little Fockers“), Michelle Rodriguez (“Fast & Furious 6“), Sofía Vergara (“The Three Stooges“), Amber Heard (“Paranoia“), William Sadler (“Iron Man 3“), Lady Gaga and Cuba Gooding Jr. (who should be forced to return his Academy Award for “Jerry Maguire“) do not make this installment any easier to go down — or to watch for that matter.