This image released by Open Road Films shows Antonio Banderas in a scene from “Machete Kills.” (AP Photo/Open Road Films, Rico Torres)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” is a sequel based on an end-credits joke from a film that was itself based on a joke trailer contained within a half-joke grindhouse homage. Exactly how many degrees such an endeavor is removed from anything resembling serious cinema would require Jean Baudrillard to calculate, yet for more immediate filmgoing purposes, all there is to see here is a surprisingly long-lived gag finally running out of gas. As violent as its predecessor yet noticeably duller and less outrageous, “Machete Kills” is dragged to the finish line entirely by its director’s madcap energy and an absurd cast of major stars in strange cameos.
Since emerging as a DIY hero in the 1990s, Rodriguez has always been an inherently likable figure on the indie scene. At his best, he can tap into the most delightfully stupid adolescent fantasies and infuse them with a sort of earnestness that almost verges on sweetness — for example, casting Rose McGowan as a stripper with an M4 carbine for a leg in “Planet Terror.” At his worst, however, Rodriguez’s fantasies Login to read more