I must say, though, the casting free-for-all promises more freewheeling fun than "Kills" actually delivers. You chuckle at Rodriguez's prologue - the lo-fi throwback trailer, with the emulsion scratches and crackling audio, and the good will lasts for 20 minutes or so, until you realize the whole thing is a series of goofball trailers, and the novelty wears off.
Even with Sofia Vergara wearing a brassiere with D-cup Gatling guns. Or the vamping of Ms. Gaga, one of many people in the movie trying to kill Machete (Danny Trejo).
Who, by the way, has become a sort of immortal in this sequel. (Must be something in the agua. He plays a back-from-hell avenger in the straight-to-DVD release "Dead in Tombstone," newly available today.)
The new Machete is a sort of the grindhouse version of Javier Bardem's character in "No Country for Old Men," only he's a force for good. "Machete Kills" plays more like something from Russ Meyer, with a plot from "Austin Powers."
Machete is trying to stop a tech megalomaniac (Gibson) from launching a missile at President Tiger Blood (Sheen) in a bid to clear the Earth of rabble so he can restock it with a privileged few.
What are the odds that Machete and Michelle Rodriguez will put up with this? Especially when paired with Demian Bichir, brought in along with Antonio Banderas to class up the joint, one of the many stars who plays multiple roles.
Everybody's a good sport, and Rodriguez is clearly having a ball. But when he's not clowning, he can be a pretty good director ("Sin City"). I'd like to see him put his border-straddling bilingual talents to use via something a little more ambitious.
I think he has a great movie in him.