Monday, October 28, 2013

It Came From The Cineplex: Machete Kills

Machete Kills is the sequel to 2010's Machete, and was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Kyle Ward (after a story idea by Rodriguez).

While the first film was an homage to action and grindhouse films, this one has a James Bond-ian flavor to it, reminiscent of Moonraker.

As in the first film, the off beat casting is the real star here.In addition to Danny Trejo as Machete the film stars Michelle Roriguez, Sofia Vergara, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga (!), Cuba Gooding Jr., William Sadler, Charlie Sheen (!!) and Mel Gibson (!!!).

Robert Rodriguez seems to enjoy hiring "troubled" actors (such as Sheen and Gibson) for his films-- up to a point. The previous film starred Lindsay Lohan, whose character Rodriguez liked, but didn't include in this film because she, "Didn't fit into the story." That's another way of saying, "Aw hell no, she ain't gonna be in any more of MY films."

By the way, Charlie Sheen plays the President (!) and is billed here under his real name "Carlos Estevez."

The film begins with an old school beat up trailer for the third film in the series, Machete Kills Again... In Space. It looks very over the top and absolutely ridiculous in a fun way, and I'm hopefull it'll get made and complete the trilogy.

The Plot:
During a raid to destroy a Mexican drug cartel, Machete is captured by a corrupt Texas sheriff. As the sheriff is about to execute Machete, he's whisked away to Washington to meet with President Rathcock,

The President is concerned that an insane Mexican warlord has a nuclear missile aimed at Washington and wants Machete to diffuse the situation in exchange for full citizenship and a clean criminal record.

Machete accepts the mission and eventually stops the bomb aimed at Washington, but is then captured by eccentric billionaire Luther Voz, who's secretly instigating global nuclear war while building a space ark in which to escape Earth.

It's probably futile to point out flaws in such a silly movie. I will give it my best shot though.

Pros:
• Can you believe Danny Trejo is almost 70 years old? I had no idea he was that old. I'd have guessed late 50s.

Charlie Sheen, er, I mean Carlos Estevez turns in a decent and surprisingly restrained performance as President Rathcock. Also Mel Gibson plays a villain here for the first time and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. Why, he was perilously close to being likable here!

• I don't know why, but I find it funny that Machete has a last name. Several times throughout the film he's called "Machete Cortez." I just assumed "Machete" was his nickname or code name, like "Wolverine." So Machete is his real first name?

• Alexa Vega has a small part as a prostitute assassin called Killjoy. Ga ga ga Googy! Believe it or not she the same Alexa Vega who played Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids films. I have a hard time believing these are photos of the same person. And I feel more than a little dirty looking at her now...

• Somebody on the production staff is a Star Wars fan. In one scene Voz drives a replica of Luke's land speeder around his compound. Then after Luz is blinded, Voz has her frozen in what appears to be a block of carbonite, Han Solo-style. After Voz's face is burned, he takes to wearing a Darth Vader-like getup. He also has what appears to be a light saber battle with Machete in the Machete Kills Again… In Space trailer. 

Cons:
• At one point Machete dispatches a bad guy by grabbing him by the neck with one hand, then shoving his namesake weapon into a fusebox. This causes the electricity to pass harmlessly through Machete's body and into the bad guy, electrocuting him. I guess that's how it would work, but it still seems a bit dubious. 

Even if it would really work that way though, Machete lets go of the now-fried bad guy before pulling his blade out of the fusebox. Whoops!

• They must have used some kind of special lens or high contrast film on this film. Every closeup magnifies and accentuates every pore on Trejo's craggy, granite-like face.

• Everyone in this film seems to be nigh-indestructable. Machete gets shot several dozen times at point blank range (!) and somehow lives. Yes, he wakes up in Luther Voz's high tech healing pool, but still…

And Michelle Rodriguez's Luz character gets her eye shot out and somehow shakes it off.

• Speaking of Luz,  I just knew she was going to get her other eye shot out. Robert Rodriguez is repeating himself here; the same thing happened in Johnny Depp's character in Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

• Machete aims a jet pack at Voz which burns his face and horribly disfigures him. Voz then dons a very Doctor Doom-like metallic mask to hide his face. But once the mask is on his face, his voice suddenly sounds like it's being electronically processed, much like Darth Vader's. 

Um… why would that be? It's just a metal mask, and there's a fairly large mouth opening in it. I don't see any reason why his voice would take on an electronic tone, other than because it sounded cool.

Machete Kills is a silly but fun follow-up to the original film. I give it a B-.

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