‘Machete Kills’ features more Machete than the first, at least

Michelle Rodriguez plays the one-named "She" in "Machete Kills." Credit: Rico Torres
Michelle Rodriguez plays the one-named “She” in “Machete Kills.”
Credit: Rico Torres

‘Machete Kills’
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Grindhouse fare sometimes plays better in trailer form, with the dull bits hacked off and the good (or just passable) bits exaggerated. “Machete” (born from a fake-trailer) tried to play as a pastiche with only the good bits — one incredible, OTT idea piled on top of another on top of another and so on. And it still stunk. “Machete Kills,” the not-quite-asked-for sequel to an underperforming franchise starter, is more of the same, only a little more spirited and a lot more inexplicably sci-fi. Gratutious “Star Wars” references are de rigueur in nerd movies, but usually not trash cinema that tries to set a record for the most decapitations.

It also features a fair amount more of Machete himself, the ex-Federali badass designed by director Robert Rodriguez for near-septuagenarian Danny Trejo. The first entry seemed to forget about him as it mounted a broad and not always witty takedown of the pro-immigration side. This one keeps him at the center, throwing one insanity after another his way, from a pro-gun douchebag American president (Carlos Estevez) to a schizo Mexican revolutionary with a bomb planted in heart (Demian Birchir, unusually hammy) to a mad scientist into cloning super-henchmen and making guns that turns people inside out (Mel Gibson).

Like the last “Machete,” “Machete Kills” just keeps throwing things at the screen. There’s not one but like six dangerous (and of course scantily clad) fatales, one of whom (Sofia Vergara) has a boob gun. There’s a racist redneck sheriff (William Sadler) who calls Machete “Taco.” It barely has room to fit a character named “El Chameleon,” embodied by a revolving door cast (including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lada Gaga), but into the mixer they go.

Rodriguez is so busy hurling in ingredients he doesn’t seem to notice he repeated an iconic character from his “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” The filmmaker has created a curious niche for himself: a factory (based partly in his garage) that upchucks sloppy, indifferently filmed fanboy product with a somewhat unnerving disinterest in human life, with F/X that are sometimes only a notch above those in “Birdemic” and an increasing trend towards wrangling up shamed celebrities. (Both Sheen and especially Gibson look like they’re having the time of their lives.) It’s a questionable gig that may become an endearing one by “Machete X: Machete Goes Hawaii.”


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