© Universum/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Germany GmbH

Machete Kills
U.S.A./Russia 2013

Opening 19 Dec 2013

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Writing credits: Kyle Ward, Robert Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez
Principal actors: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez

Machete (Danny Trejo) is a wrinkly old man covered in tattoos, with long, stringy black hair. He wears a leather vest and speaks Spanish and English. His purpose in life is to punish evil-doers, although his methods are questionable. He says, “Machete kills; that’s what he does; he doesn’t save.” He also says that, “Machete doesn’t tweet.” Rathcock is, as he himself says, the President of the United fucking States.” He convinces Machete to travel to Mexico to unearth an evil-doer: Mendez. His reward? What else, but American citizenship (if he only knew what awaited him in the form of filling out tax statements, poor man)! It seems that Mendez has threatened to strike Washington D.C. with a nuclear missile. What else would you expect from a man suffering from split personality, who vacillates between good/funny to evil/funny? The funniest evil part of him is a machine connected to his heart, which, if this heart should stop beating, would cause the nuclear missile to shoot off towards Washington, D.C. Therefore, it’s not enough for Machete to eliminate Mendez; he must find the creator of the missile in order to have it shut down. This leads Machete and Mendez back across the Mexican border to Luther Voz and his VOZ TECH scientific laboratory. By now we have grown accustomed to the fact that most everyone in the film is completely mad.

Obviously, the actors and the production team had great fun in creating this film and, I hate to admit it, I enjoyed it, in spite of the approximately 40 identified, as well as probably 60 unidentified, corpses, people who came to grief in various perverse ways including “inside out.” This is a sequel to Machete (2010) and reminds me of the Fast & Furious series in that there are set people, or groups of people who interact according to expectations. For example there is Madame Desdemona, who literally became a man eater, when her father tried to seduce her; she leads a group of prostitute women warriors. There is Miss San Antonio (excellent: Amber Heard), a blond, nail polishing, ding-bat with a secret identity. That’s nothing for El Camaleón who brings it up to four identities, all characters who seem suspiciously familiar. Luz wears an eye patch and holds her own in hand-to-hand combat with Miss San Antonio. Most handsome would be Zaror, a clone. Most American would be Sheriff Doakes (William Sadler) who discusses the difference between “tomehto” and “tomahto.” I appreciated the mix of English and Spanish (which might be different if you see it in German). I won’t reveal the wealth of one liners but I will say that I learned that the average person passes gas 14 times a day.

Director Robert Rodriquez filmed Machete Kills in his native town of Austin, Texas, with some scenes in San Antonio. In the credits Charlie Sheen is listed under a screen name: Carlos Estevez, and plays President Rathcock. Mel Gibson is in his element as Voz. Like Fast & Furious, this could go on to multiple sequels. Rodriquez has already threatened us with a possible Part III: Machete Kills Again – in Space. Hopefully Danny Trejo can carry on – a big compliment to his acting abilities, considering that he is already pushing 70. (Becky Tan)

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