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The Independent Critic

Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Antonio Banderas, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Demian Bichir, Jessica Alba, Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady GaGa, Amber Heard
Robert Rodriguez
Kyle Ward
Rated R
107 Mins.
Open Road Films

 "Machete Kills" Needs to be Killed 
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Have you ever watched a film where you got the idea that they had a heck of a lot more fun making it than you had watching it? There are those who say that about Adam Sandler's films, because Sandler seems to surround himself time and time again with people he enjoys working with and you can't help but get the sense from watching his films that they had a blast making it even if the film itself is stretching itself to be considered mediocre.

Such is the case with Machete Kills, a sequel to a film that was based upon a trailer in the Rodriguez/Tarantino duet Grindhouse. When Machete came out, you couldn't help but do a double take at the thought of longtime character actor Danny Trejo being put front and center as a sort of machete wielding hero in a B-movie/exploitation kind of way. Given that Rodriguez has never been able to leave well enough alone, think about the 2000 films in the Spy Kids series, it seemed inevitable that the unexpectedly successful Machete would land a sequel and, as well, that sequel would inevitably amp up the volume on its lunacy, weirdness, and violence.

If you like that sort of thing, then there's a decent chance you'll look at my "C" rating for the film and be at least a little offended. It's not so much that I hated Machete Kills or that I think it's abysmal - it's just that everything about it screams out "unnecessary" and even Trejo himself seems to be looking around and wondering what he's doing in the film.

Trejo's Machete experiences a major tragedy as the film's credits open, and Machete finds himself recruited by the U.S. President (Charlie Sheen - go ahead and laugh) to head down to Mexico to handle a revolutionary (Demian Bichir, far removed from his Oscar nomination) and a kick-ass brothel mistress (Sofia Vergara). Eventually, Mel Gibson enters the picture and steals the entire film as an arms manufacturer.

You'll have to see it.

Gibson, whose career has continued on a bit of a downward slide as of late, is really the only one here who puts in a solid effort and it shows each time the actor's on screen. The film possesses another few cameos mostly for novelty's sake, but mostly it feels like a bunch of friends have gotten together and decided to make one more film for old time's sake. B-movie greats Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero also show up and, to their credit, they obviously get the vibe for what's going on here.

While Machete wasn't a great film, it had a certain goofy charm about it and you couldn't help but smile at the thought of Danny Trejo being a leading man. The film didn't actually require that he do a whole lot of acting, but Trejo for the most part did what he needed to do. This time around, Trejo seems more than a little bit detached and the film seems more like a Friday night cinematic frat party than it does an actual serious cinematic effort.

Now, we just have to hope that Robert Rodriguez doesn't treat this like Spy Kids and torture us with a few more films down the road. Machete may kill, but the simple truth is that rather than an effective B-movie/exploitation flick all Robert Rodriguez has really made is an expensive movie that looks cheap.

There's a difference.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic