October 13, 2013

Movie Review: Machete Kills

It is hard to believe that it has been six years since the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez team up, Grindhouse, was released. No, it wasn't a big hit in theaters, but no matter, popular opinion is never a truly good test of quality.i had a blast with it and its trailers. Even more surprising is that one of the fake trailers made for that event was turned into a movie of its own. Now, that movie has spawned a sequel of its own, fighting the odds if you will. Whatever you want to call it, it puts a smile on my face.

Machete arrived in 2010 and brought with it an exaggerated, over the top, exploitative tale of revenge. I was a successful movie that really brought the crazy elements of old school Grindhouse and exploitation to a wide modern audience. While it promised a sequel, I think it had to be considered a long shot. Well, the long shot paid off and now we have Machete Kills!

I have to say, the movie can be considered pretty review proof. Any criticism could be written off as being done by design. So be it. What this type of movie comes down to is whether or not you like it. In that regard, no one is wrong. Like it, love it, loathe it, whatever. It is made for a certain kid of audience and no matter how widespread and mainstream I think that like and love should be, it is much more likely a targeted type of movie made for certain people with certain tastes. This can be evidenced by the rather low opening weekend box office total, or, as anecdotal evidence dictates, by the rather small crowd I saw it with on opening night in one of the theaters smaller houses.

The plot seems purposely convoluted, to the point that it matters less than the sum of all the individual pieces. As it stands, the plot follows Machete (Danny Trejo) as he becomes embroiled in a plot to start World War III. In the midst of being hung, he gets a reprieve from the President (Charlie Sheen credited as his real name, Carlos Estevez). He is sent to Mexico to get a revolutionary, Mendez (Demian Bichir) with a nuke pointed at Washington. Turns out the controls are wired to his heart, thanks to technoterrorist named Voz (Mel Gibson).

Voz wants to kickstart a war and jet off to his space station. Of course, everything is leading to that Voz vs. Machete showdown, but there is all sorts of other stuff along the way. There is a bounty on Machete's head that brings people like the Chameleon, an assassin who can change his face. Then there is Machete's government handler, Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard), who may be more than she appears. We also have a couple friendly faces like Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) and Osiris (Tom Savini). Oh yes, almost forgot about the man-hating madam, Desdemona (Sofia Vergara), and her working girls including Kill Joy (Alexa Vega) and Cereza (Vanessa Hudgeons).

Pretty much wherever you look, you will find a familiar face,or some sort of over the top activity. I am not sure I liked this as much as the first film, but there is a lot to enjoy in this. It is clearly made with enter and passion and that is very infectious.

The thing to remember is that while this is clearly smoked by grindhouse cinema and is an homage to those types of movies, it is not one of them. It is a movie made not in a serious effort to make an entertaining movie, it is calculated to be inconsistent, it is designed to be "bad". This is not a bad thing. Machete Kills is an absolute blast, just not a real grindhouse movie. So, with that said, go see it and enjoy it. It is a movie made,for fun.


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