It’s quite amazing and fun to witness how far Robert Rodriguez has been able to take the character of Machete. The character first appeared in a fake trailer airing with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s double feature Grindhouse. It seemed like the character would be left there, but Robert Rodriguez has some crazy ideas. In 2010, Rodriguez released Machete, a feature film based on that trailer, and it turned out to be a fun if cheesy film. Surely it would stop there, but the credits of the first film did promise sequels in the form of Machete Kills and Machete Kills…Again. While Machete didn’t light up the box office, it did well enough to get the first sequel green lit. Machete Kills was released this past fall, and while it’s a giant step down from the first film, there are a few moments of charm to allow viewers to find some enjoyment in it.
Machete Kills picks up with Machete (Danny Trejo) trying to stop an Operation Fast and Furious-like operation. When the mission runs into some problems, Machete finds himself being forced to take on a dangerous mission from the President of the United States himself (Charlie Sheen). The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez and is written by Robert Rodriguez, Marcal Rodriguez and Kyle Ward (making his feature film screenwriting debut).
Machete worked because Robert Rodriguez was able to find a storyline that could be grounded even if everything around the central storyline was heightened to max craziness. Unfortunately, Rodriguez forgot to ground his storyline this time around as it turns out to be just as crazy and nonsensical as Machete’s abilities, the film’s action scenes and the array of supporting characters. While many of the set pieces can be fun on their own, there just isn’t anything to tie everything together. That being said Rodriguez does a good job at continuing to be a director that can create a lot of fun and high jinks from a low budget.
Rodriguez was also able to assemble an impressive cast. Danny Trejo, despite his limited range, has really settled into the role of Machete, and it is clearly the role that his career will be remembered for. Mel Gibson makes for a perfect villain of the film. He doesn’t appear until the second half of the film, but he makes the most of his screen time as he chews as much of the scenery as he can get. Charlie Sheen also seems like he was having fun, and it would be great to see a sequel (although one is unlikely at this point considering the film’s poor box office intake) just to see where they take his over-the-top character. Unfortunately, the female characters just aren’t written well enough to get interesting performances from the actresses. Michelle Rodriguez is clearly playing a character that doesn’t have enough personality to appear in more than one film in this series, while Sofia Vergara’s performance as an antagonist is disappointing. I also have no idea what Amber Heard, Lady Gaga and Alexa Vega were doing in this film other than being there for their looks.
Machete Kills is a disappointing sequel.