Judge Patrick Naugle is the Danny Trejo of film critics.
Trained to kill. Left for dead. Back for more.
After Machete's (Danny Trejo, From Dusk Till Dawn) partner (Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four) is killed by a mysterious masked man in the desert, Machete is snatched up by a corrupt boarder sheriff (William Sadler, The Shawshank Redemption) and hung for his supposed 'crimes'. As Machete dangles from the end of a noose a phone call comes in to the police station from the President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen, Hot Shots!) to use Machete for a secret mission. Machete is told he must find a dangerous revolutionary named Marcos Mendez (a wild Demian Brichir, The Heat) before he launches a nuclear missile strike at Washington. As Machete moves into Mexico he meets up with all manner of villainous characters including a face swapping hitman (played by Boat Trip's Cuba Gooding, Jr. and pop star Lady Gaga, among others), a group of scantily clad psychotic sex workers (led by Modern Family's Sofia Vergara), and Luther Voz (Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon), a corrupot business owner with a special connection to both Machete and Machete's mission. Can Machete stop Washington from being vaporized? Will he ever avenge the death of his partner? One thing is certain: wherever Machete goes…Machete Kills.
Full disclosure: I haven't seen the original Machete. I recall having a mild passing interest in it during the theatrical release, but I never got around to seeing it. I was a little concerned that not having seen the original Machete would result in confusion about plot points in the sequel. I needn't worry. Machete Kills does not require you to have sat through the first film to understand the second (these aren't The Lord of the Rings trilogy, after all). All you need to know is how to watch things blow up real good. If you have that skill, Machete Kills is gonna be a real cake walk.
Machete Kills features a cavalcade of talented actors, prompting one to wonder if the screenplay they read was lined with gold flakes and cocaine. Charlie Sheen is the least convincing US President ever! Cuba Gooding, Jr. is a face changing hit man! Mel Gibson is a megalomaniacal Star Wars fan! And that's just the start. Sofia Vergara shows up as an S&M freak with a bra that's form fitted from an automatic uzi. Michelle Rodriguez is a one eyed agent of mass destruction. The list seemingly goes on and on. Danny Trejo is about as worn and leathery is Jack Palance was, only with a wispy moustache and longer hair. Trejo has become an unlikely leading man, though his range as an actor is rather limited. Even so, a movie like Machete Kills is probably the best place for Trejo to display his acting chops (since it requires little to no real skill).
Machete Kills is filled with mindless violence, the kind that goes so far over the top is wraps back around itself to become a bastion of bloody excess. Heads roll at an alarming rate and bodies are split in two like a hot knife running down a stick of butter (how this is physically possible is anyone's guess). The plot is everything plus the kitchen sink: racist sheriffs, possible alien forces, face peeling madmen, rocket ships, human clones, exploding wheelchairs, live beating hearts inside glass tubes. Add in some munchkins and Gandolf the Gray and you'd pretty much span the entire scope of cinematic history.
This is the kind of movie where actors don't just chew the scenery but frost it like a cake and eat it for breakfast. I have to admit that there are some pretty fun performances to be found here. Mel Gibson (Hollywood's seemingly most hated actor) gets a special shout out as Luther Voz, the film's main bad guy. Watching Gibson in Machete Kills is a reminder that while the actor may have dug his own grave with his personal views, as an actor he's still a lot of fun to watch. Antonio Banderas (Assassins) and Demián Bichir seem to be having the time of their lives as two of Machete's archenemies. William Sadler gets to play a good old boy who spews some of the films funniest lines. It's as if everyone was allowed to do whatever they wanted on a screenplay that plays fast and loose with…well, just about everything. The funniest thing about Machete Kills is the opening 'coming soon' trailer (worn and torn like an old Grindhouse feature) that puts Machete into outer space. Filled with light sabers and space suits, the trailer is ridiculously amusing and a proper start for what's to come.
Writer/director/producer/caterer Robert Rodriguez is like a kid in a candy store. He attempts to give Machete Kills a sleazy undertone but can't help letting his child like glee shine through. The action scenes are laughably goofy in their goriness. Not once but twice a man is sucked into the blades of a helicopter, exploding into a spray of blood and entrails. The effects work isn't always great, but considering the homage here—low budget action movies from the 1970s—they really don't have to be. If you put yourself in the right mindset, Machete Kills is a real hoot.
Machete Kills (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen in 1080p high definition. Universal's work on this transfer is great—although much of it looks over saturated at times, this is far more a choice by the director than an actual flaw in the image. There are a lot of predominant yellows, reds, and browns and the images practically leap off the screen. I don't have many complaints at all about how this Blu-ray's video looks: it's near perfect. The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround in English. This is a very aggressive and bombastic mix that nearly pours out of the side and rear speakers. It's an almost nonstop barrage of effects and music, making for a practically head-throbbing experience. No alternate audio mixes are included. Also included on this disc are English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
The extra features are rather light for this edition. Aside of the DVD copy and digital copy, there's also a short featurette on the making of the film ("Making Machete Kills") and around twenty minutes of deleted and extended scenes.
Machete Kills is B-level entertainment at its grandest. Although the film runs far too long (clocking in at almost two hours), it's a lot of fun for those who feel a special kinship with this kind of flick.
A blast from front to back. Well worth your time with a six pack of Coors Light.
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