Give Robert Rodriguez credit for keeping the “Grindhouse” dream alive. His re-created exploitation-fest with Quentin Tarantino might not have lived up to all the hype several years back, but Rodriguez did make the stronger showing — and better still, he later turned that faux trailer for “Machete” into a legit feature. But wait, there’s more: craggy-faced Danny Trejo is back as the eponymous, hyperviolently vengeful Mexican tough guy in “Machete Kills.” Save for another trailer at the opening, though, it’s not the sort of obsessive stylistic throwback we’ve come to expect from this franchise. Instead, it’s more a conceptual throwback, to days when Roger Corman and other low-budget mavericks gleefully deemed any crazy idea worth tossing into a movie. Test screenings? Pshaw.
This time, Machete is enlisted to take down an unhinged Mexican revolutionary (Demian Bichir, TV’s “The Bridge”) by America’s f-bombing president (Charlie Sheen, getting into the Tex-Mex spirit by appearing under his given name, Carlos Estevez). Machete gets, um, thoroughly briefed by his government handler (Amber Heard), who happens to be undercover as a beauty pageant contestant. But she can’t prepare Machete for the discovery that the madman has the trigger for a nuclear missile wired to his heart.