Machete Kills

Starring : Danny Trejo, Demian Bichir, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Cuba Gooding Jr, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas

Director : Robert Rodriguez

Release Date : 12 Sep 2013

Even with a stellar cast, Machete Kills is a snooze fest.

Some ideas work much better as a short film ... or a “fake trailer”. As a fake trailer featured on Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, Machete was two minutes of outrageous B-movie bliss, and it got enough fanboy support to convince Rodriguez to make a feature film out of it.

Big mistake.

What may have sounded brilliant on paper, just does not cut it on celluloid. A large number of fans of the fake trailer, this reviewer included, found it a chore to sit through this whole film.

It is a lazy film with a one-note lead character played by beloved character actor Danny Trejo and too many flat jokes.

Trejo, again, plays the title character Machete, an ex-federale-cum-secret agent who is a nightmare for members of the Mexican drug cartel. Walking in on a weapons deal gone wrong involving the US army and a Mexican drug cartel, Machete’s main squeeze, Sartana (Jessica Alba) gets killed. There’s also a shady plan involving a stolen missile (which looks intentionally and unbelievably cheap) and an attempt to attack the US with it.

Machete then gets recruited by the US President (Charlie Sheen, credited with his real name Carlos Estevez) to stop the attack by going deep into the heart of Mexico to find and kill a revolutionary named Mendez (Demian Bichir, of A Better Life fame) who suffers from multiple personality disorder.

I think by this point in the film, the viewers would’ve already realised there’s not much of a plot; it is basically Rodriguez and screenwriter Kyle Ward’s “cool” and “crazy” ideas masked as a plot!

What you get, instead, is a constant stream of crazy characters and situations, plus a whole lot of one-liners thrown in just to see if anything might stick. And therein lies the film’s first major problem. When the crazy stuff doesn’t work, they’re just simply awful and boring. But when they do, they’re sort of wonderful.

Take the character named El Camaleon, a Mexican assassin who changes identity by swapping face masks

la Mission Impossible, who is played by four (count ‘em!) actors – he goes from Walton Goggins to Cuba Gooding Jr to Lady Gaga to Antonio Banderas! It is such a memorable character.

Mel Gibson is brilliantly cast as a billionaire nutcase who can see into the future and wants to take a few chosen people to outer space with him. It is only after we come into contact with Gibson’s glorious looniness that the film finally manages to become the crazy B-movie it aspires to be.

Still, that alone is not enough to save the movie for it is bogged down by its second and biggest problem – it’s a fake grindhouse movie. The stilted acting, appallingly amateurish staging, laughable cheap sets, props and over-the-top violence and sex of the grindhouse movies of yore were charming partially because, well, they were made on a tight budget. The thrill of watching them comes directly from their impoverished origins.

The problem with Machete Kills is that aspiring to be good (and mostly failing at it) is just not good enough.



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Machete Kills


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