Robert Rodriguez’ ‘Machete Kills’ exploits grindhouse genre

A majority of the characters in “Machete Kills,” portrayed by well-known actors such as Alexa Vega, Lady GaGa and Antonio Banderas, are underdevelopted.  (Photo provided by machetekillsmovie.tumblr.com)
A majority of the characters in “Machete Kills,” portrayed by well-known actors such as Alexa Vega, Lady GaGa and Antonio Banderas, are underdevelopted. (Photo provided by machetekillsmovie.tumblr.com)

“Machete Kills” is the latest film in writer and director Robert Rodriguez’s Machete film series. Danny Trejo reprises the role of Machete as he fights his way through Mexico and the United States to stop a rampaging madman. The film features Rodriguez’s signature grindhouse aesthetic and penchant for ultra-violence.

“Machete Kills” has a very basic plot. The president of the United States (Carlos Estevez, “Scary Movie 5”) recruits Machete to kill a Mexican revolutionary who has a missile aimed at Washington, D.C. and then disarm the missile. During the course of the film, Machete encounters bounty hunters, the cartel, crooked cops, and the man responsible for creating the missile, Voz (Mel Gibson, “Get the Gringo”).

The entire film is completely over the top. It is full of cheesy dialogue, crazy deaths and fake trailers the grindhouse genre has come to be known for. Despite a number of inconsistencies with the plot, the film is enjoyable. Most characters have a distinct personality and it is easy to see the actors are having a lot of fun with their portrayals. Danny Trejo was simply born to play Machete. Despite being a character that speaks very little about his emotions, it is easy to sympathize and understand Machete through the expression and movements of Trejo. Demian Bichir (“The Bridge”) is good as the revolutionary/cartel madman Mendez. His character suffers from multiple personality disorder, allowing Bichir to display his acting talents in a variety of ways. Mel Gibson has the best performance in the movie. It is clear he is having the most fun with his character and he handles being both crazy and serious interchangeably exceptionally well.

However, there are a number of actors who are underutilized. The film touts an impressive resume of actors, but has most appear only for a brief scene before leaving. This is the case for actors Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lady Gaga, who have little screen time despite being highly billed.

“Machete Kills” is easy to follow without having seen the previous film, but some things will be glossed over in the assumption viewers are familiar with its world. Fight scenes are creative and deaths can be extremely graphic at times. Weapons of all kinds are used, ranging from the signature Machete to helicopters, flamethrowers, boats and machine gun bras. Audiences expecting a detailed plot will be disappointed as the movie keeps the story very basic, focusing more on the action with intermittent laughs. The humor is often hit or miss. It is an outlandish, ultra-violent action film. Plot holes and inconsistencies are easy to spot, but actually work for the film’s throwback style. Audiences looking for a good action film with creative fights, deaths and decent laughs will enjoy it.

new-3star5