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The U.S. government recruits Machete to battle his way through Mexico in order to take down an arms dealer who looks to launch a weapon into space.
For more about Machete Kills and the Machete Kills Blu-ray release, see Machete Kills Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 5, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Demián Bichir, Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara
Director: Robert Rodríguez (I)
» See full cast & crew
Machete Kills Blu-ray Review
"You know Mexico. Hell, you are Mexico!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 5, 2014
I went into director Robert Rodriguez's Machete with the humblest of hopes and the lowest of expectations only to emerge pleasantly surprised -- and enormously entertained -- by the film's gory grindhouse gags, sharp sense of humor and Danny Trejo's gnarled block of nigh unstoppable Latino vengeance. Unfortunately, Machete Kills is a different beastie. The original film, born from a faux-trailer attached to Rodriguez and Tarantino's Grindhouse (and before that a promise to Trejo on the set of Desperado), is cheap-thrill-a-minute Mexploitation at its finest. Machete's first sequel, though, is clumsier, duller and less polished than its deceptively unpolished predecessor. Rodriguez and company are still clearly having the time of their lives, Trejo especially, but something's off. With less to prove and little to lose, the series' low-rent edge and grimy, gristly essence have been distilled into a bloody live-action cartoon; an R-rated Spy Kids that lacks guts, sleazy spectacle and a proper endgame.
Reeling from the death of his partner at the hands of masked killers, a grieving Machete Cortez (Trejo) narrowly escapes the noose of a crooked border sheriff (William Sadler) at the behest of U.S. President Rathcock (Charlie Sheen as Carlos Estévez). The people's POTUS tasks Machete with infiltrating a secure compound in Mexico and assassinating Marcos Mendez (Demián Bichir), a schizophrenic revolutionary threatening to launch a nuclear missile at Washington D.C. Machete, however, finds more than he bargained for in Mexico. Mendez is wired with a surgical implant that will fire the missile upon his death -- or within 24 hours, whichever comes first -- leaving Machete with little choice but to keep the madman alive long enough to seek the help of the weapon's creator: corrupt billionaire, merciless precog and sadistic Star Wars fanboy Luther Voz (Mel Gibson).
Mendez and Voz aren't Machete's only troubles. The blade-wielding hero also attracts the attention of a vindictive Mexican madame (Sofía Vergara) and her gunslinging cadre of prostitutes (captained by Alexa Vega's KillJoy), a lanky, seemingly unkillable martial artist (Marko Zaror) and a deadly, mysterious face-swapping hitman known only as El Chameleón (initially Walton Goggins, followed by three additional guest stars). Familiar franchise faces (among them Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini, Jessica Alba, and Electra and Elise Avellan) and new allies-n-enemies (Cuba Gooding Jr., Amber Heard, Antonio Banderas, Lady Gaga and Vanessa Hudgens) soon join the fray as hastily legalized U.S. citizen Machete races to save Washington and eventually the world.
Trejo commands the screen and does most of the heavy lifting -- rightfully so -- but it's Sheen, Bichir and Banderas that reap the rewards of Rodriguez's Big Delirious Fun. The rest of the cast is either underutilized or overindulged. In the underutilized corner is Michelle Rodriguez, who's given next to nothing to do other than the requisite girl fight; Vega, desperate to prove she's all grown up with nothing but skin and thongs to bolster her claim; Savini, simply wasted; Alba, escorted off screen after the briefest of scenes; and, surprisingly, Gibson, whose juicy role as villain is a mishmash of ideas the veteran actor seems all too content to take on with loopy, mid-sleepwalk indifference. In the overindulged corner is a shouty, mad-eyed, clamped jawed Vergara, whose grating performance is only worsened by her constant, migraine-inducing snarls and screeches; Lady Gaga, a miscast (or perhaps just impulsively cast) distraction if there ever was one; and Heard, playing a tough-talking bad girl beauty queen.
The actors are the least of the film's problems, though. Kyle Ward's screenplay is all over the place and Rodriguez tends to shoot from the hip (and on occasion borrow rather liberally from past movies, most obviously Sin City). The sequel's already thin geopolitical satire is rehashed from the original and many a joke lands with a thud (the Star Wars bits would have been tired twenty years ago). The third act is essentially an extended prelude to Machete Kills Again rather than delivering a satisfying close, and the frustrating gotcha ending bleeds out and dies long before the credits roll. Oh, there are a few solid laughs to be had. Cringes and groans to be stumbled upon. Even a coupla wildly over-the-top dismemberments, deaths and killshots that won't soon be forgotten. But it's difficult to tell if Rodriguez is trying too hard or isn't trying hard enough. Either way, I keep coming back to the words "something's off." Too shiny, too corny, too tame, too predictable, too cartoonish, too cameo-driven, too uneven, too anticlimactic, too much huffing and puffing and not enough blowing the house down.
Machete Kills Blu-ray, Video Quality
Retaining the style of the first film, Machete Kills hacks and slashes its way onto Blu-ray with a near-perfect 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. There's a bit of unwelcome crush here and there, but otherwise all is as it should be. The sequel's sun-scorched grindhouse palette is quite striking, armed with visceral reds, smoldering yellows, ambers and golds, aggressive primaries, beautifully saturated fleshtones and deep, inky blacks. Contrast is typically hot and heavy, but only insomuch as director Robert Rodriguez and cinematographer... erm, Robert Rodriguez intend. Detail is excellent as well. Edges are crisp and clean, without a hint of significant ringing, and textures are unexpectedly refined and revealing. What's more, the film's faint veneer of grain is intact and any and every scratch, mark or bit of print damage (what little faux-celluloid damage Rodriguez throws into the mix, mainly at the beginning and end of the flick) is there by design. And without any serious macroblocking, banding or aliasing to speak of, Machete Kills looks about as good as any fan could hope for.
Machete Kills Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is busy, blaring and bombastic; a crackling blitz of gunfire, explosions, laser blasts, engine revs, meaty decapitations, pulpy disembowelments and other nastiness that comes through all too loud and clear. LFE output is brash and bawdy, adding ample (sometimes fittingly exaggerated) weight and heft to the madness erupting on screen. The rear speakers never say die either, grabbing hold of any effect imaginable and jamming it into the already engaging soundfield. And while it can all seem like a scattershot assault on the senses, directionality is actually extremely precise, pans are silky smooth and the chaos amounts to a controlled burn. Dialogue remains intelligible and smartly prioritized at all times too, and the entire film benefits from the track's lossless power and prowess.
Machete Kills Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Machete Kills Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As sequels go, you could do worse. Trejo continues to solidify his place among the best B-movie A-listers, and he and the rest of his castmates are clearly having the time of their lives. Things veer from grindhouse to camp at record speed, though, and Rodriguez loses his grip on the story, FX and, really, the entire third act. (Which turns out to be little more than a distended threequel-setup gag.) But Universal's Blu-ray release? A more effecient killer. Yeah, more extras would have been much appreciated -- a commentary, a feature-length production documentary, real deleted scenes -- but the film's AV presentation doesn't disappoint. Ultimately, Machete Kills may be even more divisive than its predecessor, but it's at least worth a rent. I'm sure there are some who will dig it more than I did... and of course some who'll think I've been too kind.
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Machete Kills Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Machete Kills - January 15, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering five members the opportunity to win a copy of director Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, starring Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofía Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Alexa Vega, Demian Bichir, ...
• Machete Kills Blu-ray - November 19, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray dierctor Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills (2013), starring Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, Sofía Vergara, Charlie Sheen, Demian Bichir, and Lady Gaga. The release ...
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