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Machete Kills •

Machete_KillsStarring: Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenplay: Kyle Ward, Robert Rodriguez
Action/Crime/Thriller, Rated: R
Running Time: 107 minutes
Release Date: October 11, 2013



Well I can’t say I was surprised that a movie called Machete Kills had a high body count.

(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

And those bodies lost a lot of blood, too. Let’s recap.

We’re introduced to Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo), an Immigration and Customs Agent (ICE) who intercepts a military weapons shipment to the Mexican cartels. His agent friend Sartana (Jessica Alba) is killed in action and Machete blames himself. The local Texas sheriff comes upon the scene and accuses Machete, takes him back to the jail and hangs him. But Machete doesn’t die. While hanging from the rafters, the red phone rings and it’s the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen as Carlos Estevez) and he wants Machete for a secret mission.

President Rathcock (yes, you read that correctly) sends Machete to Mexico to kill a man named Mendez (Demian Bichir) who is threatening to destroy Washington DC with a missile attack. Machete has no problem finding Mendez but he discovers that Mendez has the missile launch trigger surgically attached to his heart. When his heart stops beating, the missile goes off. Machete has no choice but to bring Mendez alive back to the United States in hopes of finding the one surgeon who can dismantle the trigger device.

If this all sounds preposterous and a bit unfocused, it’s because it is. Machete Kills is among the most outrageous films of the year. Director Richard Rodriguez has fashioned this movie as a 1970s exploitation film with a sort of Mexican James Bond as the lead character. It is replete with bizarre evil characters for Machete to fight as well as quirky allies.

It is hard to know if the film is a parody of the Bond series or a serious attempt to create a true Mexican hero.  If it’s a parody, it should be funnier. If it’s an attempt to make a new hero, you’d think it would be rated PG-13 to appeal to a younger audience. As it is, Machete Kills falls into a gray void that is inexplicable.

Totally agree, Greg. As we were reviewing the details of the opening act of this movie, it almost sounded like Machete Kills is a normal, promising action-adventure movie. Unfortunately, it’s anything but that. This is a movie that knows it is outrageous and unrealistic but doesn’t know what to do with all the absurdity. Like you said, it’s not funny enough to be a spoof of a genre but it’s certainly not serious enough to be a legitimate thriller, either.  We’re left in limbo.

I wish the movie had tried to be a genuine adventure film — certainly the tools and resources are all in place. Danny Trejo is certainly up to the task, as are the other cast members with the notable exception of Carlos Estevez, whose silly presence is a reminder that we’re watching a movie that doesn’t matter because, well, it really isn’t even trying to matter.

The main villain in Machete Kills is a woman (Sofía Vergara as Desdemona) who is a self-proclaimed man eater. And that’s not figurative – she actually eats her male victims. She’s a man hater who runs a brothel. When she goes hunting for our hero, she dons a brazier that acts as a double-barrelled gatling gun. When she wants to blow up a vehicle, she straps on a … strap on that shoots rockets. Physics aside, it is hard to take such a villain seriously.

And while we’re on the subject of physics, the ways that Machete kills his victims range from absurd to just ridiculous. At one point, Machete reaches into a man’s stomach and pulls his innards out. If you think that is disgusting, he then throws the intestines into a helicopter’s rotating blades and the man is vertically disemboweled and sliced in the rotors. This is a film that spares no expense at being outright stupid – and yet still seems to take itself seriously.

Indeed, Machete Kills appears to have been made with the intent to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for most gruesome deaths by spinning blades. Many, many people are sliced and pureed to death, with the usual excessive blood splatter. Great efforts were made to show human dicing, even when unnecessary, as when a motorboat comes ashore at full speed and somehow spins around so that the blades of the motor tear apart the flesh of several movie extras. You may recall, Greg, that it was about this time that I was munching on my pepperoni pizza in the theater.

Greg, this was a movie that lost me about 30 minutes into the mayhem. There simply was no point because I knew I was watching a Saturday morning cartoon where anything can happen, and will happen, even when there’s no point to it happening. I realize that there is an audience for this type of film, but I can’t imagine that this audience is an aficionado of good movies with good stories.

This is a horrid, horrid movie. Rarely have we seen such purposeful drek. I think Machete Kills will find a cult following. The really odd thing to me is that it got made at all. The prequel Machete should have been enough. But now the next film Machete Kills Again, in Space is coming out. (By the way, there were several overt references to Star Wars and one wink at Star Trek the Next Generation that made no sense). We don’t need any of these films. For a bad idea well executed I give Machete Kills 1 Reel out of 5. Machete himself comes off as a good hero, even if he is a lampoon of Bond. I give him 2 out of 5 Heroes.

Movie: reel-1 Heroes: superman-2

Greg, I agree that Machete Kills was a bad idea, but it’s a stretch to say that it’s well executed. My attention and interest were executed, that’s for sure. You will not find me in the theater to watch the sequels in space, the purpose of which I’m sure is to show in full glory the splattering of blood in a zero-gravity environment.  Like you, I’ll very generously give this movie 1 bloody Reel out of 5, but just 1 splattered Hero out of 5.

Movie: reel-1 Heroes: superman-1

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