By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Feeling less “grindhouse” and more cartoonish than the first film, Machete Kills plays out more like a Spy Kids spin-off for grownups. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when writer/director Robert Rodriguez and his co-writers Kyle Ward and Marcel Rodriguez make the film an often hilarious and absurdly goofy good time at the theater. Robert Rodriguez may not have Quentin Tarantino’s gift for writing sharp witted dialogue, but he does have an undeniable talent for imaginative and inventive movie making. Machete Kills clearly is another example of Rodriguez’s “kid in a candy store” style of making popcorn cinema.
Following the events of the first film Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) has been working closely with ICE officer, Sartana (Jessica Alba). After a mission goes awry, Machete receives a new assignment from the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen/Carlos Estevez). Machete’s mission is to stop a Mexican revolutionary madman named Mendez (Demian Bichir) who plans a terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. In carrying out his mission, Machete soon discovers that the real madman behind Mendez’s plot is billionaire arms dealer Luther Voz (Mel Gibson).
Even though this sequel lacks some of the smart comedic writing of the first film, this installment has some charming wit of its own. Rodriguez and his co-writers obviously have much love for 70s science fiction and the campy Roger Moore, James Bond movies of the same era. As I previously stated, this second chapter has less of a gritty grindhouse style and embraces the glossier side of seventies cinema. The humor mostly works and had me laughing and applauding regularly. Rodriguez chose excellent cast members who all looked like they had an absolute blast making this movie.
As the stoic, asskicking ladies man Machete, Danny Trejo owns this role. Granted, he doesn’t really have to do much, except for looking serious and menacing, but that’s okay. It would not be the same without him. Also reprising their roles from the first movie, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tom Savini are a joy to watch again, but this installment truly belongs to the new cast members. Oscar nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) plays the wild and insane revolutionary Mendez and obviously does so with glee. William Sadler is a treat and a hoot to watch as a Texas sheriff named Doakes who has a talent for spouting hysterical, anti-Mexican ethnic slurs. However, the real star of the show has to be Mel Gibson who hams it up wonderfully as Bond villain wannabe Luther Voz.
As with the first film, I’m sure this sequel will not appeal to everyone. I will highly recommend Machete Kills only for fans of the first movie. It doesn’t quite hit its mark as well as the first movie, but sequels rarely do, especially in the genre of exploitation. One should expect even more over-the-top action, adventure and a rollicking setup for a third installment which I hope comes to theaters very soon.