Movie Review: Machete Kills!

Machete-Kills1The film sets two tones. It starts with Machete (Danny Trejo) and Sartana (Jessica Alba) on a raid of an illegal weapons exchange, where Sartana reminds Machete of what he taught her, a line concerning laws and justice. Whereas the contrasting tone within the same scene, has Machete bare-handed grasping an unstable, exposed powerline and become a human conduit to electrocute an assailant. The ideals are real, but the reality cannot be taken seriously. Director Robert Rodriguez, known for “From Dusk Till Dawn“, “Spy Kids“, “Sin City“, and “El Mariachi Trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon A Time In Mexico)”, has brought you the return of this badass anti-hero in, “Machete Kills“.

If you’ve ever seen these over-the-top style of films, it is hard for reviewers not to mention a thematic similarity to the way Rodriguez approaches direction and writing in the same vein as Quentin Tarantino. But these two have definitely influenced many other writers and directors to employ a similar vision, to which we have pulpy movies like “Hobo with a Shotgun” or “Sushi Girl“. Fortunately, I’m aware of how common these references between close friends, Rodriguez and Tarantino, can be so I’ll spare the long lecture of how these two interact and influence eachother as much as the film industry.

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Let’s clear some things first…

I would like to emphasize that this movie does not take itself seriously. Do you need to watch the first “Machete” to enjoy “Machete Kills“? No. I watched this movie only seeing half of the original “Machete“, and although there are a few recurring characters, the script (and insanity) is strong enough to keep you too entertained to figuring out the backstory of some characters.

There is also the controversy concerning Alexa Vega, who played the tough older sister in Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids“, and her debut as a mature actress. She doesn’t have much in terms of a speaking role, if at all, but she does have the focus as “Killjoy“, Madam Desdemona’s (Sofia Vergara) head assistant. And just when you think her metallic bikini under studded chaps were bold enough, Vega’s last main scene with her crew departing shattered the idea of any kind of innocence in this once little girl– a bit like the perspective of Miley Cyrus and her Hanna Montana image. Then again, Alexa Vega was married for a few years. The movie industry can often isolate the image of its actors, which sometimes works for or against the actor. But as an effect of a Deadly Beauty, Alexa Vega is fair with her execution.

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Rodriguez makes no hesitation or excuse of having dismembering, shots to the head, Deadly Beauties, cheesy vulgarity, and Charlie Sheen in this movie. This movie screams ridiculous badassery. Even the villains are not cookie-cutter, as Mendez the Madman (Demian Bichir) ranks high in my favorite villain personalities in pulp movies.

The premise is simple, Mendez the Madman steals a weapon and aims it for Washington. The President summons Machete as the only man who can cross into Mexico and get the job done. Fortunately, that’s just the initial circumstance… and it is subject to several plot twists.

In most of what I review, I try as much as possible not to spoil your experience with finding certain details out in the movie. Some of the best moments in watching cinema, isn’t so much the ending of a journey, but the epiphanies and moments gained throughout it.

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What it’s not…

  • This movie’s universe isn’t serious, but the characters are.
  • This isn’t some top-notch production where you can suspend your disbelief. It can be sloppy, it can be cheap, and it’s intentional. It does it with finesse.
  • Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Antonio Banderas do not have a major role in the film despite being at the top of the casting list, but share one interesting character.
  • This isn’t Machete F*cks. Its Machete kills!┬áThe women are confident and can kick serious ass. It makes no apologies and offers no regrets. They can be ruthless and they can be powerful.
  • Machete isn’t going to be armed with a few dozen blades, like the first movie. It’s now quality over quantity.
  • Machete doesn’t go saving the bad guys.
  • A movie where Machete tweets.

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What it does well…

  • Entertaining, comedic slaughterfest.
  • Maintain a contrast between the character’s serious and solemn nature, against the insanity of his world.
  • Create a diverse and interesting cast of characters with unique circumstances and behaviors.
  • Constant pace to keep your attention. Never a real dull moment.
  • Modern-day Pulp. Horrid environment and situations, where one man who started as a nobody and rose to a status where even members of the Cartel sing songs of him.

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Although I would love to keep writing about this movie, it would just spoil the moments I’d prefer you experience yourself. Whether it’s the fake severed limbs, Carlos Estevez poking fun at himself, or hoping that they take Machete up into space to fight Leonardo diCaprio, I definitely recommend watching this movie, whether with good-humored family or awesome friends…or enjoy the carnage by yourself!

Grade: A

NOTE: Machete Kills begins October 11, 2013

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Jaynesis Ong
Jaynesis Ong 162 posts

He is currently a graphics designer by trade, illustrator for indie games, fashionisto, film production assistant, socialite, sampler of fine music, and taster of various new MMO games. JB likes destructive walks on the beach, visceral plot points, maniacal villains, and collapsing galactic empires.