Machete Kills (R16)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/10/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Machete Kills has its moments and is more fun than the disappointing original but it also outstays its welcome, overplays all its jokes and weirdly underuses its central character.

What's it all about?
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Machete Kills is the sequel to the 2010 hit, though it's not too concerned with picking up where the previous one left off and immediately kills off a key character from the first film in the opening sequence. After that, Machete (Danny Trejo) is summoned to Washington where the US President (Carlos Estevez, aka Charlie Sheen) tasks him with travelling to Mexico to track down dangerous drug kingpin Mendez (Demian Bichir), who's plotting with evil defence contractor Voz (Mel Gibson) to blow up Washington.

Fortunately, help is at hand and Machete receives valuable assistance from undercover beauty queen Ms San Antonio (Amber Heard) before hooking up with underground operative Luz (Michelle Rodriguez, reprising her role from the first film). However, Machete also has to contend with an angry brothel madam (Sofia Vergara) and a dogged hitman with multiple identities (Walton Goggins, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jnr and Lady Gaga as The Chameleon).

The Good
Rodriguez's rapid-fire, bring-'em-on, kill-'em-off approach to his cameo-heavy supporting cast is frequently amusing, particularly when you realise that half of his cast have had public disgrace issues, making you wonder if he got Gibson, Rodriguez, Sheen and Hudgens at a discount. Of the characters with more longevity, Rodriguez and Heard are a lot of fun and Bichir is good value as the split-personality kingpin (the film's best joke is that only one of his personalities wants to blow up Washington) while Vergara is clearly enjoying herself as the machine-gun-bra-equipped brothel madam (a gimmick stolen from 60s flick The 10th Victim) and a scene-stealing Estevez (Sheen's birth name) is good value as the President.

The gore factor is a lot more fun this time round, with some amusingly inventive death sequences and some decent 3D effects, though there's still a feeling that Rodriguez doesn't quite get his own joke, as the film doesn't fully exploit the exploitation angle the way it should.

The Bad
Trejo is solid as the grizzled hero, but, as with the first film, he is curiously under-used by the script – the characters all talk about what a legend he is, but we see nothing that suggests where that reputation might have come from, and if that's meant to be part of the joke, then it backfires. Similarly, the film can't quite sustain its 108 minute running time and runs out of steam before the end, frequently over-playing its jokes into the bargain (there's also an unwelcome streak of misogyny that seems wholly unnecessary).

Worth seeing?
Machete Kills is a watchable sequel that delivers nicely in terms of gore and performances but isn't quite as inventive, as trashy or as funny as it should have been. Also, note to filmmakers: making references to the likes of Justin Bieber will only ensure that your film is horribly dated within five years.

Film Trailer

Machete Kills (R16)
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Content updated: 13/12/2019 15:53

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