Review: Machete Kills / Cert: 15 / Director: Robert Rodriguez / Screenplay: Kyle Ward, Robert Rodriguez / Starring: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez / Release Date: Out Now
Well, it's about time. After not killing much of anything in Robert Rodriguez's colourful Grindhouse spoof Machete, the eponymous character returns – this time, with a body count.
Aside from an out-of-shape Steven Seagal, there's no hiding from the fact that mercenary and occasional freedom fighter Machete Cortez didn't really kill much of anything in the original Machete. Normally, that's fine, but when you cast Danny Trejo as a character who is literally named after a really big kind of knife, you had better have him use it more than occasionally. Thankfully, Machete Kills gets the hint, and this sequel is chock full of bang for Machete's buck, from beheading through to disembowelling and much more besides.
The plot is barely important, with Machete tasked by the U.S. government to take down an insane arms dealer and disarm his massive space-bound payload. This puts Machete at odds with an angry brothel owner (Sofia Vergara and her machine gun boobs and penis), a mad scientist (a fantastic Mel Gibson) and a hitman named El Camaleón (played by almost half of the supporting cast – including, um, Lady Gaga).
Rodriguez has assembled an impressive cast here, most of whom are a joy to watch. Mel Gibson is particularly well cast as the Big Bad of the piece, clearly having fun in what would be his latest comeback gig. Trejo is as reliable as ever as Machete, still making for a remarkably convincing hero, in spite of his age. Beware the high definition offered by the Blu-ray release though – sufferers of trypophobia (warning: Googling it can cause contraction of said phobia) will likely pitch a fight at the HD pock marks, indentations and various caverns of Trejo's face and Gibson's crinkle-cut forehead.
With so much at play, it's no surprise that Machete Kills often struggles to maintain a semblance of coherency. The tone veers sharply between retro action movie and flat-out spoof, Machete now too invincible to care about as a character. It's all very hit and miss, with Machete's would-be execution a lot of fun, but his sex scene with Amber Heard coming across as exploitative and a little icky. That said, this is a film which has Danny Trejo and Mel Gibson riding side by side in a Star Wars landspeeder, so maybe it's best not to take it too seriously.
While another sequel might be a step too far, Machete Kills isn't quite the waste of space we may have feared.