Articles & Notes — November 17, 2013 at 12:10 am

Machete kills…but the film fails to deliver


Last year, I remember all the buzz around the net, when Sylvester Stallone was gathering both new and old expendables for the sequel. Despite all the media coverage, all the action stars, whom I really like – the film itself was something I was deeply disappointed with. Among reasons – over the top cheesiness and a rather unimpressive and badly made “Stallone vs Van Damme” fight. Anyway…

“Machete Kills” was the film I was looking forward to the most, of all films that have come out in 2013 so far. And again, just as “Expendables”, such high expectations led to big disappointment.

Yes, I’ve seen the first Machete, and I loved it. I loved Danny Trejo’s character (still do), loved the fact that De Niro and Steven Seagal both did the film, which was shot for some $10 million. I expected more of the same in the sequel. Didn’t happen.

On one hand – how can you not have great expectations from “Machete Kills” with such an impressive cast? On the other hand – overall film is just a shadow of the first Machete film.

Prior to the film, we’re shown the “Preview of coming attractions”, which should us a fake trailer of “Machete Kills Again…in Space”.

Sartana (Jessica Alba) gets killed off in the first 10 minutes of the film by Luther Voz (Mel Gibson), and Machete (Danny Trejo) gets recruited by the U.S. Government, in particular the president (Charlie Sheen aka Carlos Estevez), to go to Mexico and take down an arms dealer, who threatens to launch a missle at Washington. Machete agrees, and the film takes off.

machete-kills-3To me, it seemed like the story of the film was moving on too fast, with a lot of things being left unexplained. Aside from that, it’s a real contrast of how some characters in the film stand out, while others are simply unbearable.

Sam Mendez is easily the most attractive and vivid character in the film, brilliantly played by Demian Bichir. Mendez keeps changing his personality throughout the film, adding those evil laughs, and that makes him a joy to watch. The same can’t be said about Mel Gibson’s Luther Voz.

While I believe Gibson could still act his way out of anything, his character, despite having a really cool name, doesn’t have enough screen time, and towards the end really turns into a joke, with his evil plan to relocate people to space and “build a new world”.

The character of Chameleon was a cool idea, which probably looked even cooler on paper, but in the film it is not executed in the same way. Cuba Gooding Jr. was the best Chameleon of all, and it’s nice to see him still having his talent, despite mostly appearing in crappy movies. Walt Goggins and Antonio Banderas were good as other chameleons, but Lady Gaga? Come on. That was a bit too much.

Marko Zaror, a Chilean martial arts actor, familiar to the fans of “Undisputed” film series, plays some sort of a clone that has minimum dialogue and some martial arts scenes here and there. Part in “Machete Kills” might look good on Zaror’s resume, but in the film he’s not much to look at.

Leading female leads are satisfactory. Michelle Rodriquez continues to be typecast as a tough-as-nails female, and she’s looking better than ever in here. Amber Heard on the other hand is an eye-candy for the male audience, not much else. Her character felt sort of lifeless to me.

machete-kills-2I intentionally not going to write anything on Charlie Sheen (who decides to go by Carlos Estevez in the film). He’s playing the president, you know. And he’s “winning” in the end…

So why “Machete Kills” doesn’t work? Partially, I believe it’s because the script was written by Kyle Ward, while the first Machete was written by Robert Rodriquez himself.

Another reason why the film was disappointing to me is because Machete himself was turned into a joke. Especially in the end, where we see him on the missile, and later when he’s wearing a space suit, and goes on to battle Luther Voz in space…

According to Box Office Mojo, the first Machete, as already mentioned, was made for $10.5 million, and did well at the box-office, gathering over $44 million worldwide. The film earned slightly over $11 million in the opening weekend.

Machete Kills earned just under $4 million in opening weekend, and over $14 million worldwide – while being made for some $33 million (IMDb). Feel the difference.

Getting back to that fake “Machete Kills Again…in Space” trailer – something tells me if this is released as a 3rd Machete film, it will be even worse than the second one. If the budget for the sequel really was $33 million – it wasn’t worth it.

Tim Tal, BZFilm

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