Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Cinema File #265: "Machete Kills" Review

Due to its somewhat predictably poor box office performance, we'll mostly likely never get a chance to see the promised threequel in the Machete Franchise, a bloody space adventure called Machete Kills Again...In Space. We'll have to settle for the insane Star Wars influenced trailer that bookends the second and probably last film in the series, the aptly titled Machete Kills. Then again, the fact that we even got a Machete movie at all, itself inspired by a fake trailer in the equally less than blockbuster film Grindhouse, let alone a sequel to it was pretty amazing, so who knows. Maybe Machete will return at some point. If there can be four Spy Kids movies, why not three Machete movies? I don't know. All I know is, if I had my say, we'd get one every Christmas, or at least riding the coattails of every increasingly redundant James Bond movie. Because I don't care what you say, this shit's awesome.

Machete Kills is about Machete, machete wielding ex-Federale and professional wandering bad-ass, killing a bunch of people with his machete. There's other stuff, but its really not so important apart from the fact that its crazy and silly and bloody and everything you want it to be. Machete Kills is the kind of movie that can't really be judged in normal terms, because its appeal is so specific that there's no way you don't already know where you stand on it. Either you love this kind of thing and will instantly fall in love with the movie, or not. There's no in between with something this outrageous and unsubtle. The first movie had Machete using a man's lower intestine as a bungee cord to scale down a building, and the sequel takes this same ethos and runs with it farther than one might have thought possible or tasteful. Its not for everyone, but its damn sure for me and mine.

That's not to say its better than the first film, or even as good. The first Machete was a cartoon of a movie, but fun enough that you could almost sort of appreciate it earnestly if you suspended your disbelief and tried hard enough. Machete Kills goes way too far into camp to do this, effectively becoming a cartoon of a cartoon, which is fine if you're like me and that kind of thing doesn't bother you, but it means there's less margin of error to rope in people not already inside the film's small niche audience. Also, almost all the political commentary that made the first film greater than simple exploitation pastiche is pretty much gone here, which feels a little strange at first until you realize that there probably isn't all that much more Rodriguez could have said about the politics of immigration that wasn't already touched on the first time around.

Machete Kills is all about playing around in the sandbox created by the first movie. Its not about trying to say anything or satirize anything, just indulging in an unabashed love for a much maligned genre and seeing how far it can go before we can't take it anymore. I'd say it comes right up to the edge of being too silly to take, but then my threshold is probably a bit higher than most. The closest we get to full blown annoying pandering is in Charlie Sheen's extended cameo as President Rathcock, but luckily his character represents the one area of the movie where Rodriguez wisely uses restraint. In the meantime, we a get a much more interesting cast of villains, though some might be put off by the explicit breach into the supernatural with a main antagonist able to see the future, and another able to shed his face like a mask to assume new identities. But even if that's a problem for you, what more do I have to say beyond Sofia Vergara in a Gatling gun bra. And oh yes, the famous crotch gun makes an appearance as well, but I won't spoil that any further than I already have.

In short, Machete Kills is the kind of movie that in a perfect world, everyone would love and clamor for every year. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, so while the lackluster and overrated Incompetent Space Lady movie explodes at the box office, this bizarre little gem languishes in obscurity. If you have any interest at all based on anything you've seen; if there's even a glimmer of excitement that suggests this might be a thing you could enjoy, than I implore you to give it a chance and see it while you can. You don't really need to know anything about the previous film to understand it, and if there's any part of you that thinks you might like it, you probably will. Or at the very least, it might foster that spark of awesome inside you to one day learn how to appreciate something this goddamn cool, at which point you'll finally be a legitimate human being. Go see it now!

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