Robert Rodriguez’s splendidly garish Machete Kills opens with a hilarious trailer for the next Machete movie, Machete Kills Again…in Space, which promises to be Rodriguez’s version of a tacky late-’70s Star Wars knockoff. It then dives into a credits sequence that’s like James Bond gone splatter pulp, and that more or less sums up the movie. Machete Kills blows up almost any previous notion you might have had of over-the-top. It’s much more lurid and insane than the first Machete (2010), which was just conventional enough to make you long for the gonzo fake Grindhouse trailer that kicked off this whole freak franchise.
In Machete Kills, there are good guys, like Danny Trejo’s hulking hombre with his Eastwood-meets-catfish sneer, and bad guys, like Demian Bichir as a drug-cartel boss with a split personality and a nuclear device sewn into his heart (if you kill him, it will go off). Mostly, though, the movie treats restraint itself as the enemy. Rodriguez seems to have jammed in every naughty-boy exploitation fantasy he’s ever had, from women warriors with machine-gun bras to knives that convert to gleaming Swiss Army murder machines to Michelle Rodriguez’s badass losing her second eye to Mel Gibson — who, as a supervillain who’s terrifyingly pleased with himself, looks as creased and ravaged as Machete. Machete Kills is gruesomely baroque trash staged with a kinetic freedom that is truly eye-popping, so you can forgive its lapses, like how it goes on a little too long. Rodriguez’s only real sin as a filmmaker is that he wants to give you way too much of a crazy ultraviolent good time. B+