machete

In our world of film and television, there are masterpieces and there are flops. There are also amazing directors, writers and actors out there who sometimes create or star in these flops. Machete Kills, it seems, may be a box office failure—but if viewers and critics would look past the ridiculousness of the film, perhaps they would see that it’s actually an amazing movie that does its job: it entertains.

Film critics seem to be down on Machete Kills—but why? Sure, the film is an over-the-top festival of gore and violence with an extremely erratic plot—but who in their right mind thought that the movie would be any different? Machete Kills isn’t about stellar acting or writing; it’s here strictly for entertainment value. The film is fast-paced, hilarious and fun, and it is clear that director Robert Rodriguez doesn’t want us overthinking it.

The plot of Machete Kills is fairly easy to guess from the title alone—but let’s sum it up quickly: Machete (Danny Trejo) is recruited by U.S. President Rathcock (played by Charlie Sheen) to stop crazed Mexican revolutionary Mendez (Demián Bichir) from bombing the U.S. capitol. Little do they know that billionaire arms dealer Luther Voz (Mel Gibson) is behind the entire plan. Oh, and Voz is a Star Wars fanatic who wants to destroy and repopulate the world by having us bomb each other while he relocating to a space station with his select few followers until it blows over. Old and new characters unite in this hilarious film, and while the plot does get out of hand quickly, the film is over-the-top and entertaining enough to keep you watching.

Like its predecessor, Machete Kills is designed to be an exploitation film (or, as Rodriguez calls it, “Mexploitation”). The violence is gratuitous, the dialogue is campy and the acting is sub-par—which is exactly the point. And, in actuality, it takes some pretty amazing acting skills for a cast of A-listers to act in the style of B- and C-listers. Think about it for a minute: if you’re a classically-trained vocalist, could you be able to sing off-key on command? It’s hard to let go and not care, but these actors have all done just that: they had fun with their roles, and it definitely shows.

While all the characters of the film have their quirks and are portrayed by some great actors, perhaps the most interesting character is El Camaleón (or, in one case, La Camaleón), which is portrayed by four people: Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas. One of the assassins out for Machete due to a ransom on his and Mendez’s heads, El Cameleón has the unique ability to peel off his face and change his appearance totally. Gaga’s performance is the most stand-out of the foursome, as this is her first feature film—and she pulls it off nicely, in the sense that she’s really just playing herself with a gun. Bichir also shines in his role as Mendez, a character with split personality disorder.

Overall, Machete Kills should be taken simply at face value—and this is not a bad thing. The film is entertaining, as long as you don’t overthink it. As its predecessor spawned from a fake trailer to begin with, Machete Kills was obviously never meant to be a serious, plot-driven film worthy of an Academy Award. Despite all the negative criticism, it is worth a viewing—just don’t go in expecting something that it is not. And, for the record, hopefully Machete Kills Again… In Space actually gets made, because even as a fake movie trailer attached to this film, it looks just as ridiculously entertaining and just as promising.