Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ten Statements About....MACHETE KILLS (2013)

Yep...Amber Heard is riding Danny Trejo.  Which proves
no virtue goes unrewarded...
"Machete don't tweet."

1) Boy, Robert Rodriguez really, really wants to direct a Star Wars movie, doesn't he?

No, seriously--there is a point in this film where the Star Wars tropes so overwhelms it that it forgets what made the original film so enjoyable, namely that this was a gory late 70's action film with Danny Trejo stuck in the role usually reserved for some white pretty boy.  Sure, the intention this time seemed to be to pluck the old Mexican in the middle of a spy movie, but the sudden turn into science fiction doesn't work.

2) ...but then, Rodriguez seems so excited by all these new characters he wants to introduce that he seems to forget this is a film about, you know, Machete.  Not that I'm saying that El Chameleon and Voz and Miss San Antonio and Desdemona The Maneater and Mexican Dennis Miller aren't fun characters; I'm saying that Rodiguez spends so much time setting them up and letting them play around that Machete and the characters already set up in his world almost seem like an afterthought.

3) Is it just me, or did it seem like Rodriguez was setting up Charlie Sheen's President Rathcock as either an ally of Mel Gibson's Voz or the ultimate mastermind behind him?  That political campaign ad in the middle of the film seemed to do everything but scream out 'bad guy in disguise'.  I suppose I should be grateful that he doesn't pull the trigger on that, but if you're just going to make Rathcock into a foul mouthed straight shooter, why bother muddying the water?

4) See, Hollywood?  It is possible to make Michelle Rodriguez smile and have fun in spots while still keeping her bad ass credentials.  Hell, we get her doing the big patriotic speech to rally the troops and kick Amber Heard's ass while blind.  Let's keep that in mind for Fast Seven, 'kay?

5) Okay, I give Demain Bichir major props for being a theatrical star in Mexico City, and for appearing in a Santo movie.  But I can't buy him as Mendez because every time he slips into his psychotic personality he
"Of course I have a heart!  It's right
here in this jar!"
becomes Mexican Dennis Miller and I keep expecting him to make Cop Rock references.

6) I know there are some people who have rolled their eyes in disgust ever since the first photos of Sofia Vengara's Desdemona showed up online....but I don't have a problem with her.  It's obvious that Vengara is having fun with this character who's the opposite of the one she plays in Modern Family, and she fits within the world that was set up in the first film.

7) Whether you think Mel Gibson is a racist, misogynistic pig dog or not, he gives a really amazing performance as Voz--which is even more amazing considering what a strange and wrongheaded character Voz is.  Gibson takes this messed-up bundle of science fiction and spy movie cliches and actually put real thought into it.  This results in a character with a level of realization that maybe doesn't deserve it.

8) The political content of this film is not only weird, it's contradictory to the political content of the original film.  Starting with the scene where President Rathcock gives Machete 'what every Mexican wants'--namely, U.S. Citizenship--and continuing with Michelle Rodriguez giving the speech about it not being about Mexico anymore, the film seems unconcerned with the immigration agenda the original embraced.  And given that it slides into cheapjack sci-fi James Bond-isms, well....
"You make one more reference I don't understand,
Mexican Dennis Miller, and I will so cut you!"

9)  Another thing that's missing here from the film is those 'what the hell' moments that infused the original.  There are plenty of attempts to do so, especially when we get to Voz's compound and he shows off his science fiction toys, but they don't have the impact of, let's say, Machete using a man's intestines as a rope or Lindsey Lohan dressed as a nun mowing people down.  Maybe it's because the 'oh shit' moments in this film are both calculated and centered around hardware instead of behavior.

10) I think it's indicative of how bored I was with the later half of the film that when Antonio Banderas shows up driving an evangelical tractor trailer (just go with it), my main thought was how cool it would be if this film was a Machete/El Mariachi crossover rather than the mess I was actually watching.

Overall...A thorough mess on almost every level that manages to undermine the strength of the Machete franchise at every turn.

And incidentally--Fuck you, editor of the Machete Kills television spots for ruining several of the major plot twists with that MMA/Ready To Rumble style campaign.

I was one of three people who were in the theater at Atlas Park to see this crumbling of a franchise first hand.  I have to be honest--none of the trailers appealed to me.  Hell, the closest thing to a promo I liked was the little behind-the-scenes stunt segment with Johnny Knoxville for Bad Grampa.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more about Mel Gibson. It would have been easy for him to have just showed up to collect a paycheck but he actually turns in a fully fleshed out performance. In fact, I'll put my neck out there and say that this is a movie where nobody is phoning it in or just shows up for a paycheck. Everybody is having a helluva good time being in this movie and it shows.

  2. Oh dear, I was really looking forward to this film...

  3. Wow, did not expect this review. I'll still check it out, but I've been appropriately warned...