Review: Machete Kills


Director:Robert Rodriguez

Cast:Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson

Running Time:107.00


When it was first announced Robert Rodriguez would make a movie based on his fake trailer Machete, my fear was that it would be a one-joke movie. When it ended up as the same kind of genius trash as the movie it was birthed from, I was ecstatic. So imagine my disappointment when its sequel falls into the trap the first one avoided.

Make no mistake: Machete Kills is still hilarious and absurdly violent. But it's a series of diminishing returns for its overlong 107 minutes. Any character introduced will only repeat his or her traits for the rest of the movie. Amber Heard will be a vapid beauty queen who can fight; Sofia Vergara will fire weapons from her breasts, and Charlie Sheen will be Charlie Sheen.

In the first film, the line that killed the most was "Machete don't text." It worked because it was a brief, hilarious summation of this Mexican Chuck Norris. In Machete Kills, Trejo repeats some variation of this throughout the movie. Part of what made Machete a great character was him being a man of few words. Here, he's a man of the same few words.

But that makes for a prime opportunity for plenty of scene-stealers. Demian Bichir, who just wrapped a great season of work on FX's The Bridge, plays a schizophrenic ex-cartel bruiser threatening to blow up Washington with the detonator wired to his heart. Bichir has proven he can break your heart, and this role proves he can make you laugh.

Even better is Mel Gibson as the film's big bad. He strikes the right balance of menacing and ridiculous. It would be nice to see him have a legitimate comeback, even though the wound of his real life sins still feels fresh. In the film, he makes references to "the incident" and his past films, most graphically The Man Without a Face. It's a great bit of winking, even if the film has a surplus of it already.

Machete Kills could have been a lean and mean sequel, but it's filled with far too many repetitive scenes. One more car chase, one more gun to Machete's head, one more over-the-top decapitation. Yet even in its bloated state, it's still an entertaining grindhouse flick.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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