Machete Kills (Blu-ray)
Universal / 2013 / 107 mins / R
I loved Robert Rodriguez's 2010 film MACHETE. I loved the faux trailer in 2007's GRINDHOUSE that spawned the feature film. Needless to say I went into Machete Cortez's (Danny Trejo) second feature-length outing, MACHETE KILLS, with high hopes. No, let me correct that: I was chomping at the bit all year to see MACHETE KILLS. I was practically bursting at the seams waiting for it to open. So when it finally did, I promptly went to the Alamo Drafthouse (the ONLY place to see this kind of movie), settled in and was ready for the movie ride of the year.
While I would never say the original MACHETE was a model of tight storytelling, it was a focused one with wonderfully fun tangents that never got out of control. MACHETE KILLS, unfortunately, is best called wildly-all-over-the-place. The core story involves Machete being hired by U.S. President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen) to thwart psycho-revolutionary Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir) from launching nuclear missiles at Washington D.C. However, complications arise that lead our Mexican hero to the uber-psychotic and STAR WARS obsessed megalomaniac Luther Voz (Mel Gibson.) Along the way, Machete must deal with the death of a close friend, a lethal Mexican Madame (Sofia Vergara) and her pistol-packin' ladies of the night, a corrupt border sheriff (William Sadler) and an unstoppable assassin with the ability to change his/her physical features known only as El Chameleón (played by several big names whom I won't spoil here.) But wait! There's more! Most of the surviving cast from the original film pops up here and there for mostly no reason other than nostalgia. All this (and a little more) in 107 minutes.
MACHETE KILLS is a fun and wild ride, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it, just not as much as my overly-elevated expectations hoped I would. Trejo is still a joy to behold and every minute he is on-screen (which is almost every scene) is loads of nasty exploitation fun. Likewise the star-studded cast seems to be having a blast, which comes through very well. Unfortunately there is something just… off about this outing. All the stars' cameos never hit with a force more than an "Oh, Rodriquez got them to be in the movie" punch. Once you get past that initial joke of who is here, they actually have very little to do or do a lot that is poorly developed (looking at you ladies, Vergara and company).
Sadly it seems that a lot of people felt this way, with MACHETE KILLS getting mostly bland reviews and an underwhelming box office take. I truly hope this doesn't squash the promised third outing, MACHETE KILLS AGAIN… IN SPACE, as I am very ready for more taco time with Trejo and friends. As it is, MACHETE KILLS is certainly worth a rental but it isn't a film fans will want to revisit over and over again.
Not much to say on the tech front for Universal's Blu-ray presentation other than the anamorphic 1.85 transfer is a perfect representation of what Rodriguez appeared to be shooting for; highly stylized color grading, sharp detail and a very A-quality looking B movie.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is loud, active, loud, busy, completely immersive and did I mention loud? Strap yourself in for this one.
Robert Rodriguez usually lavishes his movies home video releases with outstanding supplement packages but MACHETE KILLS doesn't get this treatment (where are our "Ten Minute Film School" and "Ten Minute Cooking School" featurettes? And our extremely informative commentary track? They are SORELY missed!) What is here amounts to very little.
"Making MACHETE KILLS" is a very enjoyable 20 minutes with the cast and crew on location.
The "Deleted and Extended Scenes" is a very unenjoyable 20 minutes of scenes that basically mirror what was seen in the finished production.
MACHETE KILLS may not be the whip-smart follow-up fans were hoping for but it is still a fun ride well worth renting.