Like Machete, many and most of the Grindhouse elements remain intact.
I recently wrote a review for Machete, and I concluded that while there were definitely some moments that could have been done better. The film succeeded at capturing the look and feel of what it was aiming for, and it was a decently entertaining film. I had lessened expectations about this film. The reviews weren't nearly as positive as the last one, and it's the kind of film that can easily be messed up. Nevertheless, I wanted to see for myself because it's also the kind of film that won't necessarily be a 'critical darling,' but I at least hoped it would have some entertainment-value.
As said, the film received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, but it also failed at having the same box-office success as the last one. The film barely made one-third of how much Machete did, but if they would have stuck with the first film's budget, it would have recouped it. With that, there's a lot of reason to suspect there won't be a third one.
Machete Kills brings our titular character back in the land of mayhem and destruction, under the watch of the United States Government. He is sent to find the leader of an underground drug cartel and off him. It is once finding him that he discovers a singular fact that changes the dynamic of the mission. If the leader of the cartel dies, a missile is readied to fire in the case of the leader's death.
As one might expect, Machete Kills brings various of the familiar elements found in the initial installment. The outlandishness and violence remains intact in high amounts and in a lot of ways has actually become even more nonsensical. While if I was reviewing any other film, that might come off as a criticism, it is important to know that the entire reason of these films is just that. It is meant to be fun, and for that, the film continues to up the ante.
The initial film featured interesting anecdotes and backstory from characters played by actors like Robert Dinero and Lindsay Lohan. This film brings even more familiar faces like Charlie Sheen, Amber Heard, Mel Gibson, and Antonio Banderas into the action. While none of the characters tap into the same humor as Dinero did in the first film, a lot of them achieve some colorful and entertaining portrayal.
The Marcos Mendez character might have been a little over-done, especially with the personality-disorder, but I did notice a couple of moments when he achieved more than I expected. One of his speeches while he was riding with Machete actually seemed well-written and emotionally felt which is damn-near more than you can say for the first film.
Even still, and more importantly than that, Machete Kills succeeds at doing something that Machete had troubles with. The first film didn't ever seem to go 'full-force' with their approach of nonsense and suspension of disbelief. It had moments where I felt as if it dragged and I had trouble keeping myself interested or entertained. While the cinematography doesn't necessarily capture the feeling of a 'grindhouse' flick in the same breath as the original. Machete Kills feels even more wacky, and even more entertaining.
In conclusion, while Machete Kills may not achieve the same critical reception as what Machete received, I do think that it actually improved over its predecessor. The film is even more fun, and I found myself even more entertained. I'll absolutely admit that it isn't for everyone, but I liked it, and I am definitely hoping that Robert Rodriguez moves forward with a third-film, which will likely be the best one of all.
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