Save for the obligatory (and only slightly fake) preview trailer and the opening credits speckled with decay, little remains truly “Grindhouse” about “Machete Kills.” While the plot is purposely ludicrous and strangely reminiscent of James Bond’s “Moonraker” adventure, the dialogue fluctuates between self-reflective hilarity and just plain cringe-worthy antics. The men clearly get the brunt of good lines while the girls are relegated to spewing trashy nonsense and juvenile taunts. The action sequences fall into a disappointingly similar pattern. Decapitated heads and other over-the-top dismemberments are accompanied by excessive gush and gurgle, but such silliness continues even into the moments that desperately need serious spectacle over repetitive bloodletting. While mockery of 3D, Charlie Sheen as President, and a Swiss Army knife-machete are all clever and witty, Gatling gun bras, Lady Gaga, and a face-changing hitman outstay their welcome almost immediately.
When maniacal Mexican revolutionary Marco Mendez (Demian Bichir) claims to have a missile aimed at Washington, D.C., President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen) sends ex-federale Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) into Acapulco to assess the situation. Informed by his handler, Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard), that the key to locating Mendez is through his mistress Cereza (Vanessa Hudgens), Machete rescues the prostitute who then escorts him to the madman’s lair. Once there, Machete discovers that not only is the missile a real threat, but also billionaire arms dealer Luther Voz (Mel Gibson) is behind the nefarious plot. Now, with less than 24 hours to save the world, Machete must deliver a ticking human time bomb across the border, evade an elusive assassin, and outwit a clairvoyant sociopath hell-bent on plunging the world into darkness.
It must be a tremendously difficult task to purposely make a bad movie. Most filmmakers try their absolute best to craft a high-caliber piece; it’s only when they fail spectacularly that cult classics are born. Director Robert Rodriguez has only mimicked a grindhouse flick in visual style and subject matter: dirty, scratched film riddled with artifacts and themes of revenge, betrayal, and murder. But what he hopes to accomplish is designing a movie that is so bad it’s good – a B-movie that transcends its low budget, subpar acting, and overall middle-of-the-road production value. Instead, he’s constructed a considerably mediocre film, refusing to acknowledge that time-tested supporting masterpieces were almost always accidental and that self-aware outrageousness doesn’t translate as anything but overreaching.
Refashioning an exploitation extravaganza for the 21st century has already been done. Here, it’s redone, utilizing all of the same tactics while failing to add anything new. It’s so repetitive, gimmicky, and commonplace that it’s occasionally boring. All of the computer-generated blood, bevies of recognizable celebrities, and over-the-top dialogue can’t save “Machete Kills” from being an intentionally second-rate affair. It’s loaded with blonde women, voluptuous cleavage, beheadings, severed limbs, and explosions. And yet, for some unexplainable reason, there’s not a drop of nudity in the whole film, going so far as to deliberately avoid it. What a disappointment that will be for the target audience, hoping to catch a glimpse of flesh from the femme fatale filled cast.
Bad guys are bad, good guys are bad, a bordello is overrun with machinegun-toting hookers, intestinal tenacity is undeniable (remixing the best scene from the original “Machete”), the plot is stolen from “Escape from New York,” and the opening title sequence resembles a James Bond concept reject. Every pitiful element is questionably premeditated and the amateurish feel is entirely willful. But too often, eccentricities don’t go far enough, or cheesy dialogue goes too far. And the abundance of cameos is handled completely incorrectly – rather than filling existing roles with interesting catches, the screenplay seems as if parts were written as an addition each time a new actor joined the cast. At least Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen are comfortable approaching ridiculous characters with a moderate sense of genuineness.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)