While the heyday of 80’s B-movies are locked in vaults of the past, the genre, which still carries a massive global following, gets reinvented every so often by those brave enough to merge its cheesy reputation into modern day film making. Robert Rodriguez is probably the most successful director these days to be doing this, carving himself quite the film-making legacy in the process.
I first became familiar with Rodriguez after seeing his installment of the Grindhouse double feature that he did alongside fellow filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino. While I enjoyed Tarantino’s installment more (Death Proof), Rodriguez’s Planet Terror was also a hit for me with its overly graphic violence and slapstick action scenes. And of course, who could ever forget the scene stealing moment when Rose McGowen’s character goes on a gory killing spree with a machine gun fixed to her recently amputated leg stump. It was so ridiculous that it was fun and the Machete franchise falls within similar territory to Planet Terror so going into Machete Kills with my expectations firmly in place helped me decide whether I loved or hated Rodriguez’s latest effort.
Machete Kills begins with Machete and Sartana Rivera (played by Jessica Alba) who are about to top a weapons trade between the U.S. military and the Mexican drug cartel but things take a turn for the worst when when Sartana is killed by a masked assailant and Machete is arrested. With vengeance now running through the veins of the Machete, an offer is put on the table by the President of the U.S.A to capture a madman (Demian Bichir) before he launches a missile at Washington D.C. To add excitement and action into the mix, a bounty is put out for the Mexican leading to a string of scorned and greedy characters to target the knife wielding villain turned hero in an effort to gain the multi-million dollar reward. Along the way we are introduced to some new and interesting characters including Madame Desdemona (played by Sofia Vergara) who relentlessly tracks down Machete with a few imaginative weapons including a strap on gun and a machine gun bra that creates some of the films highly memorable moments.
Machete Kills doesn’t take itself seriously in any way during its 2 hour duration. In fact, it sets out to be as absurd as it can possibly be, putting together scenarios that are just outright laughable – all in the name of fun. Joining the cast for the latest instalment alongside Danny Treja is a mix of A-list names including Lady Gaga as the gorgeously enticing and seductive Chameleon (a character also shared throughout the film byWaltor Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jnr and Antonio Banderas), Jessica Alba, Amber Heard as beauty pageant hero-turned villain Miss San Antonio, Michele Rodriguez reprises her kick-ass role as patch-wearing Shé, and the fabulously psychotic Sofia Vergara. A few of the film industry’s less celebrated inclusions also team up on Machete Kills such as Mel Gibson as the films bad guy and Charlie Sheen who is credited under his real name of Carlos Estévez and who plays the role of the gun-wielding, pot smoking President of the U.S.A.
At the end of the day you will either walk out of this film thinking it was the best time had or you will walk out thinking about all of the other things you could have been doing instead of watching Machete Kills for the past 2 hours. I thankfully walked out thinking the former. I think to enjoy this film an awareness of the genre is a must as well as an awareness of Rodriguez’s former B-movie glories. Though the film may not be a contender for any Oscar’s, its light-hearted action-fueled humor and gore filled story won me over right from the opening trailer hint of its even cheesier Machete in Space sequel.
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