Machete Kills (2013)
“Trained to kill. Left for dead. Back for more.”
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Demien Bichir
Synopsis: The U.S. government recruits Machete to battle his way through Mexico in order to take down an arms dealer who looks to launch a weapon into space.
Never will you see another movie in which so many people are detached from their heads as you do in Machete Kills, the over-the-top sequel to the equally over-the-top Machete (2010), Robert Rodriguez’s loving tribute to grindhouse movies of the 1970s. Heads are lopped from shoulders with frightening regularity, but they make up only a fraction of the cartoon violence that fills almost every moment of this deliberately mad movie. People are eviscerated by helicopter (a real laugh-out-loud-while-you’re-groaning moment), shot in the eye, garrotted, turned inside out — you name it. Machete moves at a breathless pace, and yet throughout every minute it gives off the impression that the writers are straining to come up with something to shock and/or delight its audience without ever quite succeeding.
Following the death of his partner Sartana (Jessica Alba — Awake), Machete (Danny Trejo — Heat) is press-ganged by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen, credited here for the first time under his real name of Carlos Estevez) into going to Mexico to take out Mendez (Demian Bichir), a mad Mexican who claims to have a missile aimed at Washington which he will launch if the US Government doesn’t do something about all those pesky Mexican drugs cartels. Machete’s not keen, but he’s given no choice but to comply with the President’s demands. His first port of call is San Antonio, where he meets his handler, beauty pageant queen Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard — The Stepfather), who informs him that he needs to find a young girl named Cereza (Vanessa Hudgens) if he’s to have any chance of locating Mendez. Cereza, whom Mendez is sweet on, is the daughter of Desdemona (Sofia Vergara), a brothel madam who has a collection of killer bras with tiny knives or machine guns concealed in their cups.
Mum isn’t too happy about her daughter going off with Machete, but he manages to spirit the girl away, only to see her shot and thrown from the helicopter in which they are being taken to see Mendez. It turns out that the Mexican was a member of the Mexican drugs cartel — and still is when the mood grabs him. At other times he’s a peace-loving freedom fighter thanks to a schizophrenic condition which sees his character changing at the most inopportune moments. Machete finds that Mendez does indeed possess a missile, and that its detonator is wired to his heart so that it will automatically be launched the moment his heart stops beating.
The plot gets increasingly silly from this stage, to the point at which it virtually becomes irrelevant. Someone gets killed every couple of minutes or so, and showers of blood fly across the screen. Mel Gibson makes a belated appearance as a Bond-type villain, a weapons manufacturer who plans to initiate a global war after first launching a rocket filled with a selected lucky few into space who will return once the rest of us have destroyed ourselves. Danny Trejo trudges through it all without once changing that ticked off expression on his deeply seamed face. Busty babes also abound, most of them clothed in fetishistic outfits that emphasise cleavage and butt.
It’s all gaudy spectacle, but Machete Kills is never as much fun as it should be and stays too firmly in this unrecognisable cartoon-like world which renders its irreverence redundant. It’s like watching an incredibly violent version of one of those spoof spy movies from the 1960s — the ones that spoofed James Bond because they knew they could never match it — a novelty movie in which the novelty quickly wears thin. Machete Kills does at least boast an interesting cast, though, with enjoyable cameo appearances from the likes of Antonio Banderas, William Sadler, Lady Gaga, and a surprisingly effective Cuba Gooding Jr.