This evening I watched the film Machete Kills on DVD. What a strange film.
I can see why it got so many bad reviews, but I’m not sure they are all entirely deserved because in many ways it is supposed to be bad isn’t it? It is either a pastiche of grindcore films, an homage to them, or a bit of both. It is also the sequel to a film that was an expansion of a spoof trailer made as a bit of a joke.
In other words, it is meant to be more than a bit trashy.
My big mistake was probably to watch it alone. Surely this is a film that is meant to be seen with friends or in a cinema with lots of audience participation and commentary. Even so it is, unfortunately a film that is a bit less than the sum of its parts.
There is so much going for it, but somehow it just doesn’t fit together properly. Here are a few of the good points:
- Danny Trejo. Obviously
- Charlie Sheen, billed as Carlos Estevez, as an over the top US president to outdo all other gung-ho film presidents.
- Familiar faces from other Rodriguez films – Tom Savini, the Avellan sisters, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Alexa Vega
- Mel Gibson as a megalomaniac baddie
- Cuba Gooding junior as the Scooby-Doo villain assassin who keeps peeling off his face.
- Cartoon violence – as long as the cartoon is Itchy & Scratchy or Happy Tree Friends
- The return of the notorious crotch pistol, as wielded by Tom Savini in From Dusk Til Dawn – but this time with a female owner
- A van full of scantily-dressed, heavily-armed psychopathic prostitutes causing mayhem
- A cameo from Elon Musk
Like Machete, this is a film that has a tongue very firmly in its cheek, which is supposed to be enjoyed rather than analysed, but for me it just went a bit too far. It is escapist stuff, far-fetched stuff like James Bond, but unfortunately it is very much Moore-era James Bond, even to the extent of using the central premise of Moonraker. The trouble is that is goes so over the top that it strays into Austin Powers territory as far as the plot goes.
Having said that, I’m sure I will watch it again, but next time it will be in company so we can all enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Even on my own I have to admit that I did laugh out loud a few times at the more outrageous stunts and beheadings.
Rodriguez is still one of my favourite directors, but that is in spite of this film rather than because of it.