*** (out of four)
I don’t get much enjoyment seeing sharp blades slice through a person’s skin. In “Machete Kills,” when Machete (Danny Trejo) cuts up an enemy’s abdomen, yanks the poor guy’s intestines and tosses them into a helicopter blade, I’m wincing, and not in a fun way. Maybe you disagree.
That said, director Robert Rodriguez’s violent sequel to the little-seen 2010 exploitation flick “Machete” doesn’t resign itself only to grisly dismembments. (Though there are plenty.) This unexpectedly entertaining B-movie throws a ton of fun-seeking ideas at the wall in hopes that we’ll enjoy the splatter.
Let’s name a few details without spoiling anything. Dangerous former cartel member Marcos Mendez (Oscar nominee Demian Bichir of “A Better Life,” having a blast) randomly flip-flops from revolutionary to madman. A killer known as the Chameleon changes faces on a regular basis, and the transitions (FYI: Lady Gaga is one of them) are wonderfully implausible. A team of killer prostitutes (including Sofia Vergara and Alexa Vega) hunts for Machete. And the U.S. president (Charlie Sheen, er, Carlos Estevez) connects Machete with an undercover operative (Amber Heard) who spends most of her time competing in pageants.
The plot involves Machete adapting after finding that the missile that Acapulco-based Mendez has aimed at Washington, D.C., will launch if the criminal’s heart stops, which is a pretty ingenious defense mechanism for a lunatic. As with the deadly hero’s previous feature, Machete’s out for revenge, but comes into focus with added personality this time. He shrugs off electrocution and can’t be hanged, but also earns widespread admiration through his technique and reliability.
Funny and recommended for very specific tastes, the film only sometimes fetishizes weapons, though there’s no denying Rodriguez caters to an audience who wants its explosions loud and its ass-kicking onscreen women scantily clad. If you think cleavage makes a great side dish to blood, you’re in the right place.
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