If you unscrew your head from your neck, Machete Kills comes off as a surprisingly deft and explosively cheesy action film with more comedy than you would expect. On top of that, I think I’ve forfeited my chance to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, because I once again LOVE Mel Gibson. Also, there is a 21% chance that there may have been fucking during my showing.
Go ahead, try to avoid clicking ahead for more now. So, I don’t think we’re going to get a third Machete film, even though Robert Rodriguez seems to have a pretty clear vision for where he wants to take the franchise (all the way into the land of science fiction) — a vision he vividly previewed in a mock trailer (or was it?) that preceded Machete Kills.
The fact is, this film looks like it’s on course to make about $5-7 million dollars this weekend, and when I saw it on Saturday night, the audience featured me, a friend, and two twenty-somethings in the back-row whose seats began squeaking uncontrollably for about ten minutes near the end of the film, cutting in on the sounds of guns and mayhem, surely entranced by the palatable musk of Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood.
Fuck you, he made a “winning” joke during the film… it’s still fair game.
You know how you sometimes think of the perfect thing to say moments after the opportunity has expired? Why didn’t I yell “Sugar Tits!” into the darkness as those back row rabbits possibly thrill banged in front of Danny Trejo and Tom Savini while they had a weathered face-off? Besides, that, when are America’s movie theaters going to warn us to not distract people with inch-y in & outing during the show like they warn us about texting or talking? Can we get the Muppets to make a PSA? Can someone clone Alex Billingon and put him on guard in every theater?
Whatever happened to the discreet popcorn hand job maneuver? When did we lose our way as a nation?
Anyway, besides being the soundtrack to someone’s future Penthouse Forum letter, Machete Kills does have worth, and it is, inexplicably, a brilliant spoof of Star Wars. Yeah, that’s right.
Some Spoilers Ahead… dum dum dum
In the film, Machete suffers a great loss and then a near death at the hands of a crooked southern sheriff in a William Sadler suit. Recruited by President Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn to save the world, he teams up with a beauty queen/government operative to thwart a Mexican based alleged revolutionary who is hell bent on blowing up Washington with a nuclear bomb if the US doesn’t world build Mexico into ivory freshness.
And then Machete winds up in a whore house with Ed O’Neill’s wife, Vanessa Hudgens (don’t tell ALIEN!), and the kid from Spy Kids. Hudgens plays Cerveza, the daughter of the revolutionary, but when it is revealed that she is totally down with Machete doing what Machete do to her father, she gets tossed out of a helicopter and then shot. In that order.
See, it turns out that her father, Mendez (as played by Demian Bichir) is extraordinarily bi-polar, gravitating between being a man of the people and a Joel Schumacher era Batman villain with the nuclear trigger laced into his heart. Bichir is having a grand time, lording over his henchman in his Mayan temple secret evil evil secret lair.
Once at said lair, Machete goes to work, absconding with Mendez while making a run for the border and the only man who knows how to disarm the bomb.
There are many ways to kill people with a helicopter blade. I know this now. Thanks Machete! I also know that if there is ever a Cannonball Run remake, I want Robert Rodriguez to handle it, because the ensuing chase across Mexico — which involves a shape shifting assassin (played by Walt Goggins, Cuba Gooding, and Lady Gaga), Sofia Vergara’s wide array of boob weaponry, Sadler’s crooked sheriff, an armored El Camino, and more (but sadly not Burt Reynolds) — was absolutely thrilling.
Once through the wall, though, we get to see our first full view of Mel Gibson. One of the charms of this franchise is Rodriguez’ penchant for stunt casting. Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Sheen, and Lindsay Lohan have all come through the world of Machete in bit parts, but none have shined like Gibson.
I don’t know if this will reboot his career and erase all the ill feelings toward him, especially since no one will likely see this, but it at least shows that he hasn’t gathered rust while we’ve all kept him in the closet.
There’s always been a sense of whimsical madness behind the eyes of Gibson’s characters — from Mad Max to Martin Riggs — and it’s still very much alive and well here as Gibson play Luther Voz, a semi-psychic and very mad war mongering weapons manufacturer with an obsession with Star Wars and the ability to pull off a cape as an accessory. Gibson is hilarious and confident in this role, stealing the entire movie as he gives Machete a tour of his facility in a modified landspeeder, matter of factly explaining that he is a huge Star Wars fan. We also get a glimpse into his plan to destroy the world and live up in the stars in what is basically a Deathstar (though, it doesn’t seem like Mel is inclined to use independent contractors), but it is the way that he neutralizes Michelle Rodriguez (tough and magnetic, as always) that will stick with you, as it is a terrific send-up of an iconic moment.
How much did I enjoy Gibson’s performance? I didn’t fuck anyone while he was on screen, and that is the mark of a great performance.
In the lead, Danny Trejo exhibits his usual level of badassery and catch phrase-y goodness, but when he shares the screen with Gibson, he gets blown right out of this movie. If you used to have a place in your heart for Mel Gibson, and you have the soul of a forgiver, see this movie for the mirage that is his (hopefully not) brief return to goodness.
Machete in Space? I’m not confident that it will happen, because apparently audiences don’t adore good looking ladies, the fetishism of movie violence and Star Wars jokes (we are seriously fucked), but Mel Gibson in something else worthwhile? God, I hope so.