If you’ve missed the ‘saga’ that is Robert Rodriquez’s Machete so far it started life as a spoof trailer during the much maligned (partially justifiably) Grindhouse movie project he made with Quentin Tarantino but quickly seemed to take on a life of its own and soon Rodriquez announced he was making a full-scale movie based on the trailer.
That film was a mixed bag that failed to live up to the trailer but still had its enjoyable moments despite not quite having the joie de vivre that Sin City or Planet Terror (Rodriquez’s part of Grindhouse) had. So, I came to the sequel Machete Kills expecting something similar with cameos aplenty and a mixed bag or enjoyable moments and near misses.
What I got however was far more than I expected, certainly this is far from being a great film but what it does it does with much more a well placed sense of knowing than its predecessor.
From the off, a trailer for its own sequel Machete Kills Again, the whole thing is on a bigger scale.
While the first movie seemed to content to spoof the already self-parodying action movies that had their heyday in the 1980s what Machete Kills does is add something of a more James Bond aspect to its Tex-Mexploitation vibe – with all the dubious lack of political correctness this implies (though this is rectified slightly later in the movie).
With that in mind, following a pre-credits sequence, we soon meet Mr. President (Carlos Esteves, aka Charlie Sheen in fine form) taking the place of M and sending Machete (Danny Trejo filling the role of Bond) off to Texas to make his way to Mexico to foil a plot by renowned madman-cum-freedom fighter.
From there, things escalate in a way that could only be compared to Roger Moore’s era as 007, and the film soon hits a ridiculous stride both in terms of what happens and its pace. This rarely lets up as Mel Gibson turns up to deliver a bewilderingly crazy performance that makes one wonder if he’s acting or if he’s genuinely this far gone.
Machete Kills also, for the most part, puts aside its attempts to look lo-fi so the special effects are, for the most part, pretty good considering this isn’t (despite the cast) a mega-budget movie and the moments where they are more in a traditional b-movie style are much more knowing (particularly the missile and costumes in the climactic scenes).
While Machete Kills is far from being a classic movie, even of its genre, it is a far more successful attempt by Rodriquez at creating something coherent based on a 30 second trailer than the original and, despite my better judgement, has me genuinely interested and, I’ll admit, a little bit excited to see if he can keep things going in the third movie which, I can only assume by this film’s Bond aping ending, is “Coming soon to a theater near you”.