Machete Kills Review

Machete Kills

Along with most gentlemen of my generation, I’ve been a Robert Rodriguez fan ever since I first caught sight of Salma Hayek cavorting around a roadside bar wearing a snake and little else.

But Rodriguez’s most recognisable cinematic contribution to date is probably the Mariachi trilogy, a series of increasingly bombastic films based on a legendary hero in the silent but violent mould.

He returns to similar territory here with Machete Kills, the second in what looks to be another trilogy of films, each attempting to outdo the previous instalment in terms of outrageousness.

The previous Machete film, if you remember, was a film adaptation like no other.

The source material was not novel, nor play, nor even comic book.

No, in a true feat of chicken-and-egg head-scratchery, Machete was a film adapted from its very own trailer.

If you know what you are getting into- and I cannot imagine that most viewers of this film will not- this movie generally hits a lot of the notes you would expect.

There are scantily-clad women aplenty, tons of imaginatively-shaped weaponry and countless scenes of bone crushing violence.

If you do not know what you are getting into, please allow me to enlighten you.

Danny Trejo plays Machete Cortez, a cartel-busting mercenary with a face as rugged as the Mexican landscape.

He’s the kind of brooding, strong and silent type that frequently refers to himself in the third person.

The basic plot sees Machete being enlisted by the US president (check out the casting there) to stop a terrorist launching a nuclear missile at Washington. But, per above, the story is essentially a flimsy excuse to allow Machete to trot the globe, slicing and dicing assorted bad guys.

Amongst the colourful coterie of adversaries he faces, there is a secret agent posing as a beauty queen, a dominatrix with a bullet-spitting brassiere, a sadistic redneck sheriff, and an assassin who changes his identity every time he dispatches a victim.

And there’s also Mel Gibson, gamely stepping into Robert DeNiro’s shoes from the previous film, in the role of Celebrity Bad Guy.

Trejo is as deadpan as ever, but Rodriguez has the sense to surround him at all times with wackier characters so that his impassiveness always remains a punchline rather than detracting from the character’s likeability.

However, about a third of the way into the film, you can’t help but feel that the joke is wearing a little thin.

In comparison to its predecessor, this film makes the quantum leap from being a nod-and-wink b-movie homage to an outright spoof in the Austin Powers mould.

Which is not to say that Machete Kills breaks its promise of Big, Dumb Fun; it most certainly fulfils that particular pledge.

But it also sails a little too close to the character-overloaded, plot-thread-tangled muddle of a mess that was Once Upon A Time in Mexico.

The most interesting thought that the film leaves you with is whether Rodriguez can both tidy up and satisfyingly conclude the trilogy with the next instalment.

Oh, and the upcoming sequel is called Machete Kills Again in Space.

Enough said.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2013