Machete Kills (2013)

Rating: C-

Dir: Robert Rodriguez
Star: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodrigues, Demián Bichir

I was thinking Rodriguez was going to return to the grindhouse vein mined by the original, but this is more like a spoof of 007 movies, with the addition of extraordinarily – and admittedly, deliberately – crap CGI. Which the films he is apeing never had, incidentally. It sees the return of Machete (Trejo), initially sent to Mexico to stop a reckless cartel leader, Marcos Mendez (Bichir), only to find that his scheme to launch a missile at Washington is only one aspect of the master-plan belonging to the real villain, arms mogul Luther Voz (Gibson). He wants to trigger nuclear armageddon, having plans to ship his chosen few into space, and then come back to the resulting scorched earth to begin a new civilization

Yeah, like I said, extremely Bond-villainesque. It’s up to Machete, with some help from “She” (Rodriguez), while various forces seek to collect the bounty on Machete’s head, including a group of prostitutes and a shapeshifting assassin known as ‘El Chameleon.’ It’s not as fun as it sounds. Indeed, it’s not nearly as excessive as it needs to be either: there’s no nudity, the violence is so cartoony it has a negligible impact, and if it weren’t for its potty-mouth, this could probably almost be rated PG-13 for content.

Hell, for large chunks, it feels like you could be watching an entry in Rodriguez’s other franchise, Spy Kids, and that’s even discounting the parade of celebrity stunt casting: Lady Gaga, f’heavens’ sake. Really, Robert? Trejo is, as always, a delight to watch in a role which, truly, only he could play, and Gibson also has a lot of fun with his role, going over the top in justifiable fashion. However, the rest of the cast ranged from forgettable to awful, and there were too many scenes which seemed stuck in, for no other reason than to provide employment for some of Robbie’s pals. My expectations for Sin City 2 just got severely reined in, if Rodriguez phones that in as much as he seemed to here.