"JESUS CHRIST, Machete! You're a fucking shit magnet!" immigration officer Sartana (Jessica Alba) shouts. It's true. Wherever Machete (Danny Trejo) goes, people seem to lose their arms, intestines, and/or heads; just by following the geysers of blood and blasts of gore, it'd be easy to track his sordid trail of vengeance. Gleefully violent and giddily hilarious, Machete—an action comedy inspired by one of Robert Rodriguez's fake trailers from Grindhouse—is utterly content in its role as a bit of faux exploitation.
If you've seen the fake trailer, you get the joke: The hard-as-nails Machete is framed for a botched assassination attempt on Texas Senator John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), a "hardliner against wetbacks" who makes speeches and campaign ads likening the influx of illegal immigrants to both terrorist schemes and maggot infestations. (Machete is cartoony and lighthearted throughout, but it's remarkably frank about the current craze of anti-immigrant hysteria—no matter how eeevil McLaughlin is made out to be, he never seems all that different from America's real-life bigots.) The framed Machete, pissed off and righteous, sets out for vengeance—along the way, he gets help from Alba's Sartana; the smokin'-hot Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), who runs a support network for illegal immigrants from her taco truck; his priest brother (Cheech Marin), who says things like, "God has mercy. I don't"; and, naturally, Lindsay Lohan. Going up against powerful enemies—slimy politician Booth (Jeff Fahey), a samurai sword-wielding drug lord (Steven Seagal [YES!]), and a vicious, über-patriotic Minuteman (Don Johnson)—Machete hacks and slashes his way to blood-soaked justice, happily unconcerned with the legality thereof.
Balancing out all its action with satire that's alternatingly pointed and broad, Machete delivers—by the time we witness a climactic standoff between a terrified Minutemen militia and a phalanx of bumpin' lowriders, Machete's more than surpassed its goofy origins. Not just a fake trailer blown up to feature length, it's simply one of the year's funniest, best action flicks.