Fox News has little to fear from “Machete Kills,” a sequel that trades the subversive immigration politics of its predecessor in favor of more over-the-top mayhem and humor with its titular character, portrayed with monosyllabic gusto by Danny Trejo. The production opens with a fake (or is it?) trailer for “Machete Kills Again... In Space!” that reminded me of “Moonraker,” and sets the tone for the main feature, which finds Machete in the James Bond role of having to save the world from certain annihilation at the hands of an arms dealer (Mel Gibson) who moonlights as a global terrorist.
The setup is a thin plot to hang what seems like dozens of fight scenes, with newer and ever more creative ways to dispense of minor characters that are brought into the film just long enough to establish a plot point. No opportunity to slice and dice is wasted, as bad guys are chopped up with knives, swords, helicopter blades, even speedboat propellers.
After being coerced by the President (Carlos Estevez--Google him) into traveling south of the border on an important mission, Machete meets up with his handler in the Alamo City. Fellow South Texans, the San Antonio skyline, Riverwalk, and Majestic Theater all make split-second cameos.
Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard) is a beauty pageant contestant who just might be one of those good bad girls (or vice versa). After some alone time with our hero, she gets him across the border into Mexico to nab a drug lord key to the plot in some way, though for the life of me I can’t remember how, as like most of the characters, he doesn’t last until the final reel.
Once in Mexico, Machete spends the lengthy middle act of the film violating the Good Neighbor policy at every opportunity on his way back to el norte, chased by the police, the cartels, a master of disguises, and a gaggle of beautiful yet deadly women, led by the bullet-bra wearing Sofia Vegara. Along the way, the running gag of what Machete “don’t” do is exploited, and kids looking for a good role model, take note--Machete may kill without mercy, but “Machete don’t smoke.”
Visual gags abound for those of us with a knowledge of the culture of Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. Robert Rodriguez has yet to make a movie from anywhere beyond a 16-year-old’s point of view, but I found myself enjoying “Machete Kills” a little more than I did 2010’s “Machete” because of its sheer audacity. The special effects aren’t great, but that might be the point. Certainly the low quality of the FX contributed to my ability to survive the non-stop onslaught of carnage onscreen. This movie might not set the world on fire, but Machete might if you cross him, so watch out.
P.S. Don't believe Machete when he says "Machete don't tweet."