DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguezmachete_kills_ver11_xlg

CAST: Danny Trejo, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Demián Bichir, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr., Walton Goggins, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega, Tom Savini

RUNNING TIME: 108 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: Machete (Trejo) is recruited by the President (Sheen) to bring down a revolutionary (Bichir) and the diabolical arms dealer who funded him (Gibson)…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

There’s a fine line between homage and straight-up parody. To homage something is to make a product that respects and admires it, a tribute band that happily lets their work open up a world of possibilities and art to unaware newcomers. A parody, on the other hand, is when someone takes a certain individual – be it a person, movie or, in this case, a genre – and plays it all for laughs.

Robert Rodriguez with Machete Kills, a follow-up to his 2010 Machete which very much so established itself as homage to the 70s era of exploitation films rather than a parody of it, has fallen off the line and landed firmly and embarrassingly onto the “parody” side.

From what one understands about the first Machete film – having not had a chance to see it before this film – it was ridiculous and over-the-top in its violence and delivery, yet it kept its feet firmly on the ground the whole time with some amusing cameos and clear sense of love towards the exploitation genre. From its opening fake trailer for a third film entitled “Machete Kills Again… In Space!”, complete with Michelle Rodriguez with a robot eye, “Justin Bieber” as a robot who amusingly gets shot multiple times, and a masked bad guy “played” by Leonardo DiCaprio (though a subtitle declares “actor subject to change”, unfortunately), we immediately get the sense that the mentality for this sequel is so far off the ground it is literally in orbit.

The preceding film does not disappoint on that promise, and we get some of the most insane imagery you’ll see all year. Only in Machete Kills will you see Walton Goggins rip his face off to become Cuba Gooding Jr., then rip it off again to become Lady Gaga, then again to become Antonio Banderas. Only within the conspicuously overlong running time (which becomes a downfall, since such craziness can be entertaining for so long) can you watch our lead Mexican hero, once more played with a sad lack of charisma by an otherwise charismatic Danny Trejo, kill bad guys with a Flash Gordon gun that turns people inside out. Only in a world built around the pure insanity of the premise is Charlie Sheen – here credited as his birth name Carlos Estevez – somehow in office as the Commander in Chief, Mel Gibson drives around in a vehicle literally borrowed from the set of Star Wars, Sofia Vergara using boob guns out of Austin Powers as well as the famous “cock gun” from Rodriguez’s own From Dusk Till Dawn, and Amber Heard actually has to compete to become a beauty queen (seriously though, not to demean the role of women in society but she is FREAKIN’ HOT!).

The odd thing about all of this – and that’s really saying a lot! – is that the overall intention of Rodriguez was to be tongue in cheek about the whole thing. Of course this is never meant to be taken seriously, need we remind you that Charlie Sheen is the President here? But any attempts by any critic, including this one, to fault the film for its plot inconsistencies and mental instability come across as invalid. Think about it, how many pure exploitation flicks rank amongst Citizen Kane or Raging Bull on any list of top films? Virtually none, they’re all technically intentionally bad movies. Machete Kills is technically an intentionally bad movie, therefore it fits perfectly amongst its critic-proof type.

However, it’s distracting in how insane it goes at times to get shock laughs from its audience and, as stated, its goofiness wears out after a while thanks to a longer-than-necessary running time. As the third act moves slowly along, settling itself into an out-of-nowhere sci-fi theme intended only for build-up for the next inevitable film, a sense of boredom starts to creep in. And when a film that has Charlie Sheen as the President of the United States has you staring at your watch, it’s a serious problem. Especially for a parody like this (note: NOT homage).

SO, TO SUM UP…

Like its assassin character as played by Goggins, Gooding Jr., Gaga and Banderas, Machete Kills does not know what identity it wants to take on and ends up looking stupidly funny and funnily stupid as a result. It’s weird, campy, not as bloodthirsty or exploitative as the first film, and pretty lame. Amber Heard is hot, though. As is ex-Spy Kid Alexa Vega (there’s something we never thought we’d say!).