Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Machete Kills Review

Machete Kills Review
I remember April 7th 2007 pretty well, it was the night me and a friend saw "Grindhouse" in theaters. If you don't recall, "Grindhouse" was a two-movie double-bill for the price of one. One film was made by Robert Rodriguez and one by Quentin Tarantino. The film was based upon old-school 1970's grindhouse theaters, which showed double-bill exploitation films for cheap. What is an exploitation film? A film that relied on violence, sexuality and off-the-wall craziness to draw audiences. "Grindhouse" was a helluva time in the theater, and one of the highlights of the film were the faux trailers before and in front of both films. One of the faux trailers was called "Machete," and starred Danny Trejo. There was talk that each faux film advertised in "Grindhouse" would be made into full-lengths films. The first and only film so far was "Machete."

I just recently caught up with the film adaptation of "Machete," which got made and released in 2010. Much like "Grindhouse," I had a ton of fun with "Machete." I love Danny Trejo, I loved that all of the scenes featured in the faux trailer in "Grindhouse" were scenes in the movie. There was big action, crazy violence and big laughs. I was hoping for more from the sequel, entitled "Machete Kills," which got released this year. 

"Machete Kills," is big fun, Danny Trejo feels much more relaxed this time out, as if he has connected himself to the role. The film features a giant, random cast; which includes Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Carlos Estevez (aka Charlie Sheen, get it?), Cuba Gooding Jr., Antonio Banderas, Sofia Vergara, Lady Gaga (yes, Lady Gaga), Vanessa Hudgens, Walton Goggins, William Sadler, Amber Heard, Demian Bichir and Mel Gibson. Despite a monstrous cast and big action, the film tries to do a little too much. For a film that is trying to celebrate the B-Movie tradition, "Machete Kills," is a bit too convoluted and compact.

When it boils down to it, "Machete Kills," is about an assassin named Machete (Trejo) who gets hired by the President of the United States (Estevez), to kill a Mexican crime lord who has sinister plans for both Mexico and The United States. If Machete does this he gets his criminal record swiped clean and he gets to be a United States citizen. A pretty simple story, perfect for the B-Movie tradition, that could be a lot of fun. However, "Machete Kills" features more double crossings, character sub-plots and character motivations then it knows what to do with. It seems Machete switches allegiances at least fifty times throughout the whole film. Its not hard to follow, not really. But it gets to be a little too much, it seems the movie is unnecessarily epic. What made "Machete" in 2010 so much fun was that it wasn't filled to the brim with extra stuff that doesn't effect the plot, or doesn't add anything to the overall story.

There is a massive cast assembled for this picture, but don't get too starstruck. Most of the actors I listed above only get roughly 30 seconds to one minute of screen time. "Machete Kills" is a big film full of cameos, with most of the well-known actors walking on and off before we can even learn their names. I know most of the actors have worked with writer/director Robert Rodriguez before and they all respect him. Rodriguez certainly seems like a cool guy, fun to hang out with, so that's what draws these wonderful actors to him. I just wish he'd utilize his cast more, if he gave these characters more to do instead of writing in unneeded sub-plots, the film could have been stronger overall.

There is still plenty of fun, action and humor bulldozing itself throughout all of "Machete Kills." Many fans of the previous film will have fun with this I think. Overall, "Machete Kills" can be described as a Mexican version of "Moonraker," if you can't accept the fun in that premise, than this movie isn't for you. I also would like to say that Rodriguez is setting himself up for a crazy-epic third chapter in this series. I just hope for that potential third film, he uses what worked in the first film rather than try anything resembling this sequel. Out the first two films in this franchise, the first one is better. However, this second movie is still pretty good.

FINAL GRADE: B-

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