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'Machete Kills' is a slice of brainless fun

Open Road Films
Danny Trejo cuts to the quick in 'Machete Kills.'

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‘Machete Kills'

★★1⁄2

R

Wide release

Pittsburgher movie quiz for yunz

Is 'Birdman' star Michael Keaton the best actor with western Pennsylvania ties? Click here to play the Trib's tongue-in-cheek attempt to find out.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Joe Gross
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 6:49 p.m.
 

“Machete kills,” U.S. President Rathcock says during, um, “Machete Kills.” “That's what he does.” So, no false advertising here, folks.

Say what you will about junky genre pictures with leaps in logic, ultra-violence and one impossible thing after another — such movies harness cinema's more overwhelming qualities better than most well-meaning indie flicks about things like “real people” and “relationships.” But don't go to Robert Rodriguez's “Machete Kills” expecting deep thoughts on anything. At all.

Shot in 29 days with an I-suppose-it-counts-as-a-script by Kyle Ward from a story by Rodriguez, “Machete Kills” stars the always-entertaining Danny Trejo as the titular ex-Federale and “enemy of the cartels.” The second movie in the series (which sprang from a fake trailer that Rodriguez cut for his movie “Grindhouse”) follows the man with the giant knife on a mission on behalf of the American government.

After a rough ambush, Machete is saved from lynching down South by a timely phone call from Rathcock (Carlos Estevez, otherwise known as Charlie Sheen), who needs the man who “is Mexico,” as the president puts it, to stop a Mexican madman with a bomb.

Said madman is named Mendez, played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who is best known to American audiences for his terrific turn as Juarez police detective Marco Ruiz in the FX TV program “The Bridge.” Bichir, all squints and rat-like faces, nearly scampers away with “Machete Kills.” The other standout is Chilean martial artist Marko Zaror as the bad guy's enforcer. Dude is over 6 feet tall but moves incredibly fast, like a much-smaller man, and his combat scenes are genuinely thrilling to watch.

Things explode, heads are removed, and mayhem ensues.

There's a vaguely political subplot about the war on drugs in “Machete Kills.” Look for Amber Heard as Miss San Antonio, Machete's government handler (as it were); Sofía Vergara as a deadly brothel madam; and cameos by Cuba Gooding Jr., Walt Goggins and Lady Gaga.

And yes, that is “Spy Kids” star Alexa Vega as one of the hookers. She is 25 now, but it is still a little weird to see her up there.

Oh, and Mel Gibson plays Voz, the big bad guy.

What is most fun about “Machete Kills” is its sense of itself. It is the most comic-book-like movie you will see this year. Much as comic books were from the 1940s to, say, “Watchmen” in 1986, you never know exactly what will happen next. All you know is that it will be cheap, fast and out of control. And a machine-gun bra might be involved.

Joe Gross is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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