This "Machete" doesn't kill.
"Machete Kills"★ ½
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Carlos Estevez, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, Demian Bichir, Sofia Vergara
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Other: An Open Road release. Rated R for violence, language, sexual situations. 106 minutes
But it does chill the marrow with the thought that another dumb sequel, "Machete Kills in Space," might already be on the cinematic assembly line.
Many heads roll in Robert Rodriguez's violent, comedy action sequel "Machete Kills."
Considering how brainless this motion picture gets, that might actually be a clever metaphor.
The rest of "Machete Kills"? Not so clever. Or funny. Or exciting.
In fact, how any movie crammed with this much gratuitous violence and sex could turn out to be such a snore might make a terrific mystery for a great detective to solve.
"Machete Kills" marks the first sequel to 2010's lame feature "Machete," itself based on a parody trailer of a fake movie featured in Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 tongue-in-cheek genre double-biller "Grindhouse."
To utilize a Western reference: Rodriguez has finally ridden this horse to death.
Danny Trejo reprises his tough-guy persona of Mexican hombre Machete, equal parts Charles Bronson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Voorhees. He used to work for the Mexican Federales.
Now he has been summoned to become an agent for the U.S. president (Charlie Sheen, appearing under his real birth name Carlos Estevez).
In exchange for American citizenship, Machete must stop a Mexican madman named Marcos Mendoza (Demian Bichir) from launching a nuclear missile at the White House.
Two complications make this difficult. Mendoza has a bad case of split personalities. He's a real sweetie of a liberal liberator sometimes. A psycho mad dog at other times.
He also has a nuclear launch key implanted in his heart so that if it stops beating, whoosh! The missile goes off.
Then along comes a third big complication: the inventor of the bomb, nutty weapons dealer and megalomaniac Luther Voz, played with lip-smacking relish by Mel Gibson channeling all the best 007 supervillain attributes in a single performance. Voz engineers a diabolical plan to launch an interplanetary Noah's ark with selected human specimens. (Think 1951's "When Worlds Collide.")
And, because Voz has glimpsed the future, he knows everything Machete will do to stop him!
Wait a minute.
All of this sounds far more enticing than the finished movie we actually see.
Rodriguez's fetish for deliberate grade-F filmmaking doesn't survive this time around, despite a talented all-star supporting cast struggling to breathe life into DOA characters. (Michelle Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Chicago's Cuba Gooding Jr., Jessica Alba and Lady Gaga lead the roster.)
"Machete Kills" never fully commits to the Abrahams/Zucker school of outrageous genre parodies ("Airplane!"), although Sofia Vergara's deadly machine-gun bra nicely updates Ursula Andress' sexy pair of .38 specials in "The 10th Victim."
Here, Rodriguez settles for making an R-rated version of a bad "Matt Helm" spy spoof from the 1960s. Complete with using human entrails as a lasso.