When you look at the career of 45 year old Texan director Robert Rodriguez, its clear why his film studio was previously called ‘Troublemaker Studios’. Since his directorial debut with El Mariachi, Rodriguez has made a name for himself creating a new brand of crazy, be it RPG guitar cases as in Desperado or a man who really loves ‘p*ssy’ as with From Dusk Till Dawn.
One case that proves this perfectly was Machete. Unlike the uncle from Spy Kids of the same name (also played by Danny Trejo), the 2009 Machete was a knife happy ex-federale turned Mexican legend who knows only violence and will not die. From the trailer its sequel Machete Kills, it looked like we would see the qualities of Machete and indeed Rodriguez films again. But sadly this is not the case.
Much like the first outing, Machete is hired by a government official to kill a target and it all goes Pete Tong, leaving Machete to use his arsenal of machetes to bring about justice… Mexican style. The differences Rodriguez has made for Machete Kills include Machete being hired by the President of the United States, Carlos Estavos (Charlie Sheen, aka Mr Winning) rather than a government official and his target is not Robert De Niro but instead a mad Mexican terrorist by the name of Mendez (Demian Bichir) who has a missile pointed at America.
Machete Kills begins with a trailer for Rodriguez’ third Machete feature Machete Kills Again and reveals a big plot twist….. its set in space. In your head, you may think this would be an awesome way to end the Machete trilogy but once you see that trailer, your mind will immediately shift to the ‘You have got to be f**king kidding me?’ attitude. Whilst the first half of Machete Kills delivers most of the gags and carnage of the 2009 predecessor, the second half cranks up the carnage to overkill.
The plot in the second half makes no sense, the jokes and stereotypes go too far to the point of being offensive. Rodriguez ultimately tarnishes the good name we held up to him thanks to Sin City. Not even the familiar faces from previous Rodriguez films like Antonio Banderas, Tom Savini and even Alexa Vega (that’s right – Carmen Cortez), could stop Rodriguez from taking Machete that one step too far.
The result of Rodriguez overplaying the illogical nature and comedy of Machete leaves new characters such as the merciless and cool Bounty Hunter Le Chameleon (Lady Gaga/Cuba Gooding Jr) being massively underplayed and forgotten. Previous Rodriguez creations like Savini’s Sex Machine in From Dusk Till Dawn have proven that even the most minor of side-characters can be memorable.
This turn of sheer overt madness is signalled by the introduction of weapons designer Luthor Voz (Mel Gibson). Whilst recycling Steven Seagal’s character from Machete (only less subtle and more stupid), Rodriguez excessively introduces sci-fi clichés to the point that it starts to become painful to keep watching. Gibson in particular took the madness too far where he portrayed himself much like a B-Movie version of the villain from Moonraker and made Estevez’s President Rathcock look like a saint.
It is clear Rodriguez attempts to follow in the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino, but unfortunately misses the mark. Some of the gags are amusing but pretty much the majority of Machete Kills make it a disappointment for fans of Machete. I for one, will certainly not be queuing up for when Machete Kills Again… In Space.