Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Machete Kills

Get out your machetes, because we're reviewing Machete Kills!

In the near future, when insane Cartel-leader-turned-revolutionary Mendez (Demian Bichir) threatens to blow up the US, the President (Charlie Sheen) calls on the only man tough enough to stop him, Machete (Danny Trejo). Can Machete stop nuclear Armageddon?

Y'know, I was trying real hard to remember the first Machete and I really can't remember what happened in that movie. I know there was a lot of blood, sex, and violence but nothing really lasting. I feel like I won't remember this one too well, either. 

Not that it's all boring or terrible. It's just – weirdly not as exciting as I thought it would be? I mean, there are fun things going on and crazy crap happening all the time, and it's great to see which celebrities (or friends of Rodriguez) will turn up in random rolls. They have Walton Goggins (aka Boyd Crowder from Justified) playing a guy called "El CameleĆ³n." That's the price of admission for me right there. But it seems off. There are definitely things I should be super excited about, but somehow, I'm not. 

Part of it is that Rodriguez always amps it up to 11 on the gore and action in all his films. Compared to Planet Terror, or even the original Machete, this is a pretty mild walk in the park. There's still plenty of fantastic gore effects and silly action, like a gun that turns people inside out or Machete casually beheading bad guys with his trademark machete, but it has this feel of, "Well, haven't we seen this before?" How many times are we going to get the gag of someone showing Machete weapons and going, "Maybe THIS is more your style!" and look at that: it's a machete.

Another big problem: instead of a unified experience, Machete Kills is more of a set-up to the hopefully-coming-soon third Machete film, Machete Kills Again… in Space! I don't see this as a spoiler because they show it as made-up trailer (similarly to the first crazy Machete trailer before Planet Terror) before the second movie even starts. So even before you start watching Machete Kills, you're already let down because you know you are NOT watching guys with pew-pew lasers getting beheaded by Machete with a laser machete. I feel like I'm watching a prequel to a movie I haven't seen yet. It's The Matrix Reloaded of the Machete movies. It makes a ton of Star Wars jokes and it wants to be the Empire Strikes Back of Machete movies, but that would imply it's better than the first.

But hey! If you like Rodriguez' films with lots of carnage and blood and sexy boobs and crazy dialogue and actors chewing scenery like they have a scenery deficiency, there is definitely all of that. There's lots of ridiculous stuff to laugh at and go, "Whoa!" and it's fun. But a lot of that stuff feels as though it's in between miles and miles of scenes where people explain things to Machete while Machete stands around and looks angry. There are a lot of people explaining things either because they need to make sense of the ridiculous plot or because they are obviously setting stuff up for the sequel. It's a long movie. But there are lots of dudes’ heads flying around in it and boobs and butts! Tons of butts.

Can we talk about the boobs and butts? Because I don't know what to think about it. On the one hand, I THINK they are trying to satirize the James Bond idea of women throwing themselves at the main guy, and the guy in question is 69-year-old Danny Trejo who is literally doing nothing but standing around looking angry, and I kind of like that. But on the other hand, they're not doing anything to twist it, rise above it, or do anything new. All the bad-ass chicks with guns have super skimpy outfits, with a few of the ladies who are working at a brothel wearing outfits with their butts literally hanging out, and all the guys dress pretty regular. I guess I shouldn't expect much from an exploitation satire film with more gore than plot, but it would have been nice. At least there's no Damsel in Distress plot! Progress?

Holy crap is there a HUGE cast in this. If you haven't seen the trailer already, they have Charlie Sheen, Michelle Rodriguez, Cuba Gooding Jr., and actual crazy-person Mel Gibson playing a crazy bad guy. They're all pretty great. Also I would like to see Lady Gaga in more stuff because she's a fun person. Weirdly, the one actor who I don't think is doing their best is Danny Trejo. I'm not sure if it's because he's not given much to work with (other than standing there looking angry) or if he's not putting his all into it, but he doesn't really have the charm or over-the-top attitude he did in the first. Maybe because most of his scenes are of Machete standing around and listening to other characters explain him things. Machete don't emote.

So Machete Kills. There's fun to be had, but it's not as fun or outlandish as the first, and not as crazy as they're making the third sound. 

THE GOOD: Crazy action, lots of gore, huge cast, fun crazy action scenes, silly plot, cool style, scantily clad women?

THE BAD: Feels long, too much of a set-up for the next one, too much explaining and not enough killing, all the women are scantily clad, Danny Trejo stands around and is angry.

THE VERDICT: $$$ It's still pretty fun! Lots of gore and action! But probably not as gory or action-y as you've seen before. And I don't know if you necessarily NEED to see it in theaters, although there is a pretty great 3D gag. And I can't help thinking this will be a better watch when all three of them are put together. I really wish this felt more of a standalone fun action movie rather than promotional material for Machete's next big adventure.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Machete, Planet Terror, Sin City, 2 Guns, Fast Five

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Machete goes to a whore house in Mexico to pick up a girl so he can use her to get to Mendez. Some hell breaks loose. And by “some,” I mean some of the girls shoot at Machete and Sophia Vergara shoots her pointy tits at Machete and then he uses a random blood gag to run away with the girl. This is followed by a five minute scene of the girl explaining to Machete about Mendez while Machete stands around and looks angry.

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