Director Robert Rodriguez overworks a good joke. The Mexican superman Machete started out as the star of a gag trailer in a grindhouse homage, then grew - like a grapevine from a cutting, or a starfish from a single severed arm - into a full-fledged feature, starring Danny Trejo's magnificently ruined face. Also, Danny Trejo. It may be that Rodriguez is making fun of sequels here - the way they have to repeat themselves while at the same time tossing in enough additional verbiage to make the repetition worth hearing. But knowingness is not a stay against sequelitis, especially when the story plays like sloppy noir overlaid with spoofy gags. Some elements are great fun (Damien Bichir's split-personality hostage with a heart wired to a missile) while others sputter into nothing (Mel Gibson as a space-minded megalomaniac). Even if everything ties together in the third installment(!), Machete Kills will always be a mess. WIth Michelle Rodriguez, Lady Gaga, and Charlie Sheen as Carlos Estevez as the president. 2013.

1.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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