Film Review: Machete Kills

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Plot: The unbreakable Mexican killing machine Machete (Danny Trejo) is recruited by the President of the United States (Carlos Estevez) to save the world from a mad man (Demian Bechir) who is threatening the world with nuclear weaponry.

I wonder if Robert Rodriguez is ever going to make a real movie again.

Seriously.

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It seems like since he made Sin City, way back in 2005, he has done nothing but make silly movie after silly movie — wink and nod homages to really, really crappy movies from days gone by.

Planet Terror was a hell of a lot of fun — a wonderful tribute to zombie movies and early ’80s sci-fi flicks. It reminded me so much of a vintage John Carpenter flick — great music, unbridled violence, clever humor and interesting plot development.

The original Machete was a step backward, but still had a lot of tongue-in-cheek political commentary and no holds barred gore and violence. In fact when you think about it Machete is more of a satire of US/Mexico border relations than an action movie. So points for being clever.

So, what I’m saying is, Rodriguez has gotten a pass from this reviewer for his most recent films.

Yet, I can’t afford him the same luxury with Machete Kills.

This film is about two steps above being a Zucker Brothers/Scary Movie parody. It’s so silly and unbelievable, that you can’t really enjoy Rodriguez’s patented winks and nods. See, with Planet Terror and even the original Machete, took themselves seriously which made their ludicrousness acceptable. They were nice breaks from reality and you, as an audience member were in on the joke.

Machete Kills blatantly does not remotely take itself serious. It’s completely absurd. However, it doesn’t come off like a full-blown comedy it comes off more like Rodriguez threw his hands up in the air and said “Fuck it, I’m gonna do what I want.”

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You’d think with the gloves off Rodriguez would create something absurdly sublime. Instead, we’re treated to a film that’s surprisingly lazy and surprisingly boring. The first act of the film is an absolute snooze fest as it relies way too much on Trejo to carry the film. When your portraying a character who barely talks and is deadly serious — making him the driving acting force of your film is a bad idea.

Luckily, the film allows its ample and talented supporting cast to save it from being completely unwatchable. Demian Bechir is the film’s first savior. He’s captivating and charismatic playing a schizophrenic former Mexican spy turned cartel madman turned revolutionary turned terrorist. He has fun with the multiple shades of his character and flexes both his dramatic and comedic muscle tremendously.

The film’s second savior, believe it or not, is Mel Gibson, who as you already know is the main villain of the film. (If you didn’t know I didn’t ruin a damn thing). Gibson is visibly having the time of his life playing such an insanely over the top villain. He really Mel Gibsons up the role — bat shit crazy to the hilt. But it really works in Machete Kills. Only someone who does actually know how to act, like Gibson (let’s give him some credit here), can pull off a roll like.

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In the end, however, two good performances, some clever running gags and Rodriguez-style action can not cover up all the warts on Machete Kills…especially when you come to the end of the film. You’re pretty much going to want to punch yourself in the balls when the credits start to roll. Why? Basically that’s exactly what Rodriguez has done to you with the way this movie concludes.

Look, Robert Rodriguez is a brilliant director. However, if you never saw any of his films before 2005, you’d think he was mediocre at best. With Sin City 2 on the horizon, there’s hope but if you’re watching Machete Kills, that hope is running out fast.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites