I admire Robert Rodriguez’ approach to making movies. He shoots quickly, works off the cuff and pulls off the sort of casting that makes you think he’s probably a fun guy to be around. His films aim to be fun too and when his technique works you end up with something great like Sin City. Sometimes though, you end up with a damp squib like Machete Kills.
The first Machete introduced a great character (the titular Federal), and also felt like it had something to say politically, albeit with a smirk. This one just sort of ambles from scene to scene with no connecting thread, rehashing beats that worked better the first time around.
It doesn’t help that the faux-grindhouse aesthetic has well and truly worn out its welcome. Rodriguez seems to be hoping viewers will excuse shoddy storytelling and dire SFX if we view things through a layer of nostalgia and irony. But the exploitation filmmakers of the ’70s were doing the best they could with the few resources they had, and Rodriguez barely seems to be trying at all. The result is like a Funny Or Die sketch that goes on for way too long.
Danny Trejo barely even registers this time, despite being in nearly every scene. He’s outshone by the only reason to watch this thing – the supporting cast. The likes of Amber Heard, Charlie Sheen and Sofia Vergara acquit themselves well, dialling up their performances to hambone levels to good effect. But it’s Mel Gibson’s evil genius who really shines, a reminder that he has a hugely magnetic screen presence even when he’s just goofing around.
Novelty casting aside, there’s not much here to recommend unfortunately. I can’t help but hope Rodriguez takes the whole ‘making a movie’ thing a bit more seriously next time.
‘Machete Kills’ Movie Times