Sep 22, 2014

[Movies] Machete Kills (2013)

The B-movie has become an art form in itself. Sure, we still see low-budget ripoffs of popular movies (cue The Asylum), but that doesn't quite capture the now "classic" sense of the B-movie. And of course the challenge of precisely defining what makes these movies so entertaining despite how bad they are is probably worth creating a dedicated field of study all to itself.

But that hasn't stopped folks like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez from trying to create movies that clearly homage those types of movies precisely. And now we have the unusual campy sequel of a trailer that somehow became a movie, Machete Kills.

And I rather enjoyed the first Machete movie given it generally accomplished its goal - to celebrate the over-the-top craziness of the B-movie. It had a horrible script, gratuitous violence and all that good stuff. And this sequel tries to continue on in that grand tradition by finding ways to push things even further.

And while the movie wasn't much of a commercial success, I still rather enjoyed the movie precisely because of how hammy it was and its overall ridiculousness.

Synopsis: Machete Kills is the 2013 sequel to the action comedy movie Machete released in 2010. The movie was still directed by Robert Rodriguez with a screenplay by Kyle Ward. Given the franchise's roots as a fake trailier, it was amusing that this sequel actually starts with yet another trailer for a future Machete movie called Machete Kills Again...In Space.

The movie begins with Machete (Danny Trejo) and Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) working together to stop weapons dealers from the US military trying to supply the Mexican drug cartels. But things get confusing as first the military crooks are killed by a group of gangsters and then another group comes in to kill them in turn. Finally, a masked figure kills Sartana with some sort of laser gun and escapes. And while Machete is heartbroken by this loss, one thing leads to another and he is called back into action by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen credited as Carlos Estévez).

In exchange for full citizenship and cleansing his criminal record, the President asks Machete to eliminate a terrorist by the name of Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir). Apparently he has been threatening to launch a nuclear missile at Washington, DC unless something is done to stop the Mexican drug cartels that are ruining Mexico. Machete eventually agrees to take on the mission and first rendezvous with undercover beauty pageant queen Bianca Vasquez (Amber Heard) to give him his first lead and to arm him for his mission. There is also an assassin only known as El Chameleón who has no face of his own and is also on the trail of Machete.

For the most part, I actually felt that the story driving this sequel was a lot more coherent compared to the original movie. Sure, the last one was meant to be this over-the-top stance on immigration police with a heck of a lot of violence. This movie decided to invest in a bit more sensible plot, but I only say this relative to the first movie. On the whole things are still rather crazy.

The movie certainly has a lot of those key moments that are just hilarious and go a long way towards making the whole movie worth it. Key moments that come to mind involve Sophia Vergara as Madame Desdemona and her various armed undergarments and of course the many faces of El Chameleón. And of course there are so many different examples - I did just mention an undercover government asset disguised as a career beauty pageant girl. Come on!

There's a lot of death to go around, but I felt that things weren't quite as campily gratuitous in terms of violence this time around and that can be either a good or a bad thing depending on your sensibilities. I think we could have amped things further though give that's sort of what helps define these types of movies - we come not just for on-screen deaths, but bloody ones with cheap prosthetic limbs flying around and all that good stuff.

Mel Gibson was quite the surprise in this movie and I kinda appreciated his participation. I think he wasn't totally comfortable in what was being done though since his performance had weird moments when things seem to wobble or whatever.

I suppose the movie's lack of success lies in how it wasn't quite able to strike that balance of being so bad that it starts becoming good. There's a lot to cheer about in terms of this movie, but then there were moments that weren't bad and really more just dull. Boring isn't the word for it - it just felt a little off the mark.

Machete Kills Again is still a decent bit of fun and there's a lot to be enjoyed as long as you don't overthink things. If anything, just enjoy the nonsensical El Chameleón side-plot that was fun although almost totally extraneous to the core plot. The movie gets 3 silly space weapons out of a possible 5.


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