Maybe one day we'll all find these movies as amusing as Robert Rodriguez seems to.
For now, the DIY action auteur is back in grind house mode with "Machete Kills," the sequel to the 2010 exploitation flick featuring Rodriguez's muse Danny Trejo as the Mexican you don't want to mess with.
The "Machete" sequel may perhaps prove to be most notable for being something of a semi-comeback vehicle for Mel Gibson. "Machete Kills" is the troubled star's first on-screen acting gig following the little-seen "Get the Gringo" (2012), which never got a U.S. theatrical release, and "The Beaver" (2011), director Jodie Foster's unfairly ignored therapy drama. Gibson stars as Luther Voz, and the film's first trailer gives us a brief tease of his skills with a sword.
Voz has been announced as the main antagonist of "Machete Kills," which means this will be Gibson's first real villain role. Sure, he's played anti-heroes before (the tagline for the underrated "Payback" said, "Get ready to root for the bad guy") but never a full-blown force of evil ... and one that's good with a blade, at that.
True to fashion, Rodriguez is once again casting people that the rest of Hollywood doesn't want to touch with a ten-foot pole. The writer-director-everything-else gave Lindsay Lohan a part in the first "Machete," and the sequel finds Lohan's newly-found soul mate Charlie Sheen (here jokingly billed as the actor's birth name "Carlos Estevez") as, of all things, the President of the United States. You also get Cuba Gooding Jr., who's been inexplicably struggling with finding the right gig ever since he won an Oscar for "Jerry Maguire," as El Camaleon.
Rodriguez's fondness for "stunt casting" is also on display here as anti-pop sensation Lady Gaga plays a role, as does Antonio Banderas, absent from Rodriguez films since 2003's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" (not counting his uncredited cameo in 2011's dreadful "Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World").
The trailer opens with a (probably unintentional) meta-wink, as William Sadler, who just played the President of the United States in "Iron Man Three," gets a surprise call from the President of the United States, upon which he releases the man he literally had hanging in the room, who's revealed to be Machete. From there, it's a series of quick action clips showcasing Rodriguez's love for almost vaudevillian weaponry and scantily-clad warrior women, here played by returning players Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba, along with new recruits Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard and "Spy Kids" alum Alexa Vega.
It should be a hoot and a holler, if you're into this kind of thing. Though we can't help but wonder if Robert Rodriguez is ever going to stop fooling around with his arsenal of toys and character actors and actually one day attempt something resembling, shucks, a "real movie." For now, he seems content to believe that we still live in a time when Saturday night means a double feature at the drive-in.
"Machete Kills" opens September 13.
Watch Mel Gibson in the "Machete Kills" theatrical trailer...