Review: Machete Kills

PLOT: Machete (Danny Trejo) is back and this time he’s on a mission for the U.S President (Charlie Sheen…er…Carlos Estevez- embracing his gonzo rep) to kidnap a revolutionary- Mendez The Madman (Demian Bichir) who’s got a missile aimed at Washington D.C.

REVIEW: MACHETE made for a great trailer, but as a film it felt like a joke that was spread too thin. Suffice to say, the idea of a bigger, wilder sequel didn’t inspire too much confidence, but it turns out MACHETE KILLS is exactly the movie the first one should have been. Maybe it’s due to Robert Rodriguez being the sole director this time out (he only co-directed the first one with Ethan Maniquis) but MACHETE KILLS works. It’s certainly a dumb film, but it’s self-consciously dumb and everyone involved seems to be having a blast. That feeling proves to be contagious.

Once again, Danny Trejo slips into Machete’s iconic leather vest, and despite being older than most of the cast of THE EXPENDABLES, it can’t be denied this part was made for him. He’s like a Latino Charles Bronson on steroids. He’s essentially the straight-man for the world of absolute nonsense that surrounds him. While the impact of the role has no doubt been lessened by Trejo’s numerous appearances in a seemingly endless series of no-budget genre films, Rodriguez seems to have real affection for him, and it shows.

The one thing I really enjoyed about the first film was the supporting cast, but this one outdoes it. A couple of folks are back, including the great Tom Savini, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jessica Alba (in a reduced role). Alba, is actually more or less replaced by Amber Heard, as a beauty-queen/agent, who seems a good fit for Rodriguez’ crazed world. Demian Bichir, who’s usually such a serious actor, gets to really play against type as Mendez the schizophrenic, who veers from being an austere revolutionary in one scene, to a crossed-eyed maniac that would have probably been played by Klaus Kinski thirty years ago, in a similar exploitation film.

The big new player in the MACHETE franchise is Mel Gibson. Gibson’s never played an all-out baddie before, but his cartoonish, Bond-villain style antagonist is him having more fun than he’s had in years. Imagine an evil Riggs, crossed with Hugo Drax from MOONRAKER, and constantly backed up by a retro sci-fi score by Carl Thiel, and you’ve got a good idea of the fun that Gibson’s got in store for us. He single-handedly elevates the movie from being lightly amusing, to really entertaining. If you’re a fan of Gibson’s work, there’s a ton of Easter eggs thrown into the movie, which will not be spoiled here. There are tons of other fun parts, with Cuba Gooding Jr, Antonio Banderas, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady Gaga, William Sadler, and more showing up here and there.

However, just like the first one, MACHETE KILLS is not for everyone. It’s corny, brain-cell killing vibe will put off a big chunk of the audience, and not just those who don’t get the fact that it’s all a joke. Part of the fun of a good exploitation movie is that they’re not self-consciously funny. That’s not the case here, so it really is a 108 minute gag. Probably the best way to watch MACHETE KILLS is as a send-up of action movies, and I’d wager any five minute stretch of MACHETE KILLS is funnier than the entirety of the SCARY MOVIE franchise. Bring on MACHETE KILLS AGAIN…IN SPACE!



About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.