By Kurt Jensen
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Less sexuality-soaked and blasphemous than 2010’s "Machete" — but just as gory — the action sequel "Machete Kills" (Open Road) is too much a deadening exercise in creative butchery, foul language and general vulgarity to make it worth viewing.
One senses wasted potential here. Director Robert Rodriguez, working from a script by Kyle Ward, has created a winking homage to 1970s exploitation films in the deadpan persona of protagonist Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo). He’s a scruffy Mexican superhero inclined to solve most conflicts with the aid of outsized cutlery.
Machete takes witty aim at American racism, immigration disputes, corrupt industrialists and the immense wall built to seal the border of Texas: The same Mexican laborers who helped construct that barrier are also clever enough to dig a maze of tunnels underneath it.
Machete, Rodriguez repeatedly demonstrates, is impossible to kill; likewise the Mexican spirit.
This should be inspirational, if only in a comic way. Instead, Rodriguez bogs down the first two-thirds of the picture under a fusillade of cursing and a seamy subplot involving a brothel with a strangely vicious madam called Desdemona (Sofia Vergara).
The main plot gives Machete — under orders from the Yankee president (Charlie Sheen, here billed as Carlos Estevez) — 24 hours to stop a missile aimed at the United States from what is presumed to be a drug cartel. It turns out to have originated instead from the evil Voztech Corp. headed by Luther Voz (Mel Gibson).
There are fast cars, a speeding powerboat, explosions, numerous beheadings, bad guys chopped in two, gunfire about every five minutes, and even a disembowelment with helicopter blades. It all becomes, in the end, a dulling smorgasbord of mayhem.
The film contains nearly nonstop violence with pervasive gore, vigilante justice, implied premarital sex, a few profanities and excessive crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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