Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

Celtics Live

84

100

Final

Bruins Live

2

1

2nd Prd 4:36

Patriots Live

17

16

Final

movie review

‘Machete Kills’ takes a few whacks at reality

Amber Heard is the government handler, posing as a beauty pageant contestant, of Danny Trejo, tasked in “Machete Kills” to take down a revolutionary armed with a nuclear missile.

Rico Torres/Open Road Films

Amber Heard is the government handler, posing as a beauty pageant contestant, of Danny Trejo, tasked in “Machete Kills” to take down a revolutionary armed with a nuclear missile.

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.

Continue reading below

The only way to defuse that baby is back across the border in the United States — but getting there isn’t easy when you’re being tailed by a lethal bordello madam (Sofia Vergara) and a chameleonic assassin (Lady Gaga, among others). Oh, and at the trail’s end: an aerospace-and-arms industrialist/psychic (Mel Gibson) with a literally out-of-this-world scheme even deadlier than that missile.

Some will miss the studied sleaze of the first installment, including the amusing, willfully oblivious way that sexagenarian, scarily inexpressive Trejo was treated as a super-stud. (His tumble with Miss San Antonio is fleeting fun.) But Rodriguez does a fair job of keeping the zaniness coming: Vergara’s machine gun bra, Gibson delivering exposition in a “Star Wars” prop, bad guys offed by helicopter blades in dementedly creative ways. It’s enough that you’ll hope Rodriguez makes good on that new faux trailer — for “Machete Kills Again . . . in Space.”

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com