Machete Kills


Reviewed by: Max Crawford

Machete Kills
"Machete Kills is a jumbled assortment of loosely related scenes whose main theme appears to be “how many different ways can you kill people with a helicopter?”"

If you didn't enjoy the original Machete you have no business setting foot anywhere near Machete Kills and also we can't be friends. Sorry. In fact, I don't want you reading this review. Go away. You're not welcome.

Is everyone left on the same page? Good, because this film is going to alienate all those people who didn't get the original, and more besides. Machete was always going to be a tough act to follow, and Rodriguez has apparently chosen the “turn it up to eleven” approach. Gone is any pretense of making anything other than a cartoon. While Machete has plenty of cartoonish moments, they're spread through a relatively coherent plot with some political points to make, however heavy-handedly. Machete Kills is a jumbled assortment of loosely related scenes whose main theme appears to be “how many different ways can you kill people with a helicopter?” Not that I'm saying this is a bad thing.

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We open with a trailer for Machete Kills Again: In Space, which is problematic because it looks like a much better film. Essentially it's Machete meets Starcrash, and again, if you're not on board with that idea then stop reading this and get off my lawn. Machete Kills is so obviously a stepping stone to this that it jettisons its own ridiculous plot halfway through and focuses on setting up for the sequel.

That plot, then. In a gentle riff on Escape From New York, President Rathcock (Carlos Estévez) enlists Machete to bring down dangerous radical Mendez the Madman (Demian Bichir). Everything goes a bit sideways by way of The Warriors, and Machete has 24 hours to get Mendez north of the US/Mexico border wall (yes, really) before Washington DC takes a nuke to the face. That's if he can escape the deadly face-shifting assassin El Cameleón, not to mention sadistic dominatrix Desdemona (Sofía Vergara) and her gang of battle-prostitutes.

This is the first half of the film. Things pick up in the second.

Mel Gibson turns in a pitch-perfect performance as evil space-scientist Voz, Michelle Rodriguez more than compensates for a number of lacklustre supporting performances, and Danny Trejo just straight up is Machete, without question. He somehow manages to ground a film that's otherwise in danger of tripping over its own self-referential in-jokes. Remember “Machete don't text”? Well, prepare to find out a number of other things that Machete don't. How about the time Machete, confronted with a wide selection of high-tech weaponry, opted for a machete? You could probably stand to see that another three or four times, right?

Right. As the difficult middle child, Machete Kills asks you to be patient while it sets up that amazing-looking space adventure it teased you with at the beginning. Stick with it. Trust me, it's going to be worth it.

Oh, and on the subject of rewarding patience, the post-credits sequences are worth sitting through a big old list of names for.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2013
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Machete Kills packshot
Machete is recruited by the US government to travel through Mexico and take down a drug dealer who plans to launch a deadly space weapon.
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Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Kyle Ward, Robert Rodriguez

Starring: Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Carlos Estevez, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Year: 2013

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: US, Russia


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