Sunday, November 3, 2013

Machete Kills (2013)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

Following the events of Machete, Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) works with Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) to stop Mexican drug cartels. Machete and Sartana are caught in the middle of a cross fire during an illegal arms deal between a group of rogue US militarily soldiers and a dangerous Mexican cartel. While Machete dives head first into the chaos, slicing the enemy into pieces with his trusted machete one by one, Sartana accidentally catches a forbidden view of a doomsday weapon. Suddenly, a masked man appears to shoot Sartana in the forehead with a high tech weapon, leaving a helpless Machete alone with Sartana’s corpse.

With a limited number of options in front of him, Machete is forced to accept a mission from President Rathcock (Carlos Estevez): Machete must hunt and kill Marcos Mendez (Demian Bichir), a delusional visionary, who threatens to attack the United States with a nuclear missile. Machete reaches out to a one-eyed Luz/She (Michelle Rodriguez) and her underground network for help, and Machete will have to put aside bitter feelings for Luz’s new recruit, Osiris Amanpour (Tom Savini), the same man, who assisted Michael Booth in murdering his brother, Padre. Machete is able to gather more intel from Cereza (Vanessa Hudgens), a young woman confined to a brothel, and Cereza is one of Mendez’s favorites. And Machete works with Blanca (Amber Heard), an undercover agent, who uses the persona of a beauty pageant queen in San Antonio as her cover, but Blanca is hiding a dangerous secret underneath her good looks.

On Mendez’s personal island in Mexico, Machete fights through hordes of security, including Mendez’s seemingly invincible bodyguard, Zaror (Marko Zaror). Here, Machete learns another devastating secret about the missile: the timer for the missile is linked to Mendez’s heart rate, and while Machete roughly escorts Mendez off the island, Mendez activates the timer.

With Mendez as his hostage, Machete becomes a marked man with a large bounty. A precise and crafty assassin named El Camaleon (Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas) purses Machete for the bounty, Sheriff Doakes (William Sadler) sees an opportunity to cash in, and for revenge, Madame Desdemona (Sofia Vergara), the mother of Cereza and the leader of the brothel, vows to avenge Cereza’s death with the help of  KillJoy (Alexa Vega) and other women in her brothel.

But Machete’s mission takes an awkward turn, when he discovers the real mastermind behind Mendez: Luther Voz (Mel Gibson) is the wealthy tycoon, who supplied Mendez with his weapons, and using his vast fortune and resources, Voz created a set of boogeyman for the US to fear in various countries throughout the world. Machete has one chance to stop Voz before he completes a mission into space, and time is running out, as Mendez’s preserved heart thumps to the countdown of a deadly missile launch.

Danny Trejo delivers another entertaining performance in the leading role, as the grizzled tough guy, who dances to the beat of his own drum (“Machete don’t tweet!”). Carlos Estevez (or Charlie Sheen) is decent enough, but his character is limited to sporadic appearances here. Sofia Vergara’s is good for some laughs, as this sadistic and psychotic madam, who hates men. Heard fits the sultry vixen character like a glove, and Rodriguez is consistent as always, portraying the tough and unflinching hellcat. Vanessa Hudgens and Jessica Alba? Don’t get your hopes up too high for seeing a significant amount of screen time from both of them. Alba’s character is killed off in the first five minutes of the movie, and a handful of minutes after her first appearance, Hudgens is killed off before Machete’s trip to Mendez’s island, so it’s not fair to judge either performance (or lack there of).

Gibson has his moments as this nutty and maniacal tyrant, who’s an obsessive Star Wars fan, and Bichir’s schizophrenic performance isn’t bad. Mendez suffers from a split personality disorder, bouncing back and forth between a man, who wants to do the right thing, and an evil mad man, who’s hell bent on destroying the US. The El Camaleon character changes his face and persona after each murder (or set of murders). First, you’ll see Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding, Jr. is next, then Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas is the last face of El Camaleon. El Camaleon shedding his last persona for a new one, while constantly changing faces was a cool trick, but I have a message for Gaga fans, don’t expect too much out of her here. Gaga’s screen time as a face of El Camaleon is short, and  if you blink, there’s a chance you’ll miss her. Although, Gaga has a short one-liner that brought a little chuckle out of me during a chase scene with Machete: “Hola mother f*****!”

Machete Kills starts off with a mock trailer for Machete Kills Again….In Space! Machete (in a space suit) is wielding this hybrid machete/lightsaber, and he’s fighting a Darth Vader-esque villain in an iron mask on a space station. Michelle Rodriguez looks like a Terminator, and the trailer jokingly mentions Leonardo DiCaprio as the man, who’s a possible candidate to portray the villain in the iron mask. Well, guess what, the ending for Machete Kills leads into the trailer at the beginning.

How did we get here you ask? Well, after a lengthy battle with Voz, Machete severely burns Voz’s face with a corrosive liquid, forcing Voz to wear a metallic mask. Blanca reveals herself as a spy for Voz, and during a fight with Luz/She, Blanca permanently blinds Luz. Voz takes a select group of volunteers for a ride on his space station to start a new life in space, and Luz is trapped on the space station. Motivated by revenge, Machete accepts President Rathcock’s mission to go into space, kill Voz, and rescue Luz.

I LOVED this cliffhanger, because it’s the type of cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more for the next film. Machete goes into space to avenge Sartana’s death, and I’m assuming, Machete’s going to rescue the new love (Luz) in his life. A good move for a number of reasons. For starters, they’re going to unleash Machete in a new playground. It’s a good move, because Machete bouncing back and forth between bad guys in Mexico and Texas for a third or fourth film would feel too stale, tiresome, and redundant. Second, the cliffhanger establishes Voz as a real threat, because Machete wasn’t able to finish him off so easily. And this ties in with my first point, but the story progresses into a new environment, so we’re not going in circles with the Mexico/Texas stuff over and over again.

Machete Kills is a more polished film than Machete with a more refined story, and a few unexpected twists and turns. Bottom line, if you enjoyed Machete, you should enjoy Machete Kills, because there’s enough blood and violent carnage to fulfill expectations of chaotic and brutal mayhem for grindhouse fans. Machete Kills is another enjoyable comedy exploitation action film in the Machete series, and with all the cliffhangers and teasing at the end, Machete has more than enough fuel to fight another day, and more importantly, the story has more room to grow.

Rating: 7/10

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