'Machete': The Reviews Are In!

Most critics give high marks to Robert Rodriguez's mix of exaggerated violence and political satire.

[movie id="426067"]"Machete"[/movie] is everything "The Expendables" could have been but isn't: vicious, witty, funny, ridiculous, engrossing.

The sight of Sly Stallone cavorting with Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li in "Expendables" wears off pretty quickly, and what you're left with is dull dialogue, explosions-by-numbers action sequences and characters that you never get to know enough to actually care about. "Machete," by contrast, springs from the same creative well as "Expendables" — wacky and hyper-violent and fanboy-friendly — but there the similarities end. As nutty as "Machete" is, it's actually smart, with snappy dialogue, clever kills and a story line crackling with social commentary about the heated immigration debate in North America.

Why, then, did "Expendables" open to $34.8 million in ticket sales, while "Machete" won't even cross the $20 million mark over this Labor Day weekend? Credit Stallone and his '80s action pals. All we can say is that "Machete" delivers one of the most purely fun movie experiences of the summer. And most of the critics agree. Here's what they're saying about the film, which should hold the #1 box-office spot after the weekend.

The Story

"Three years after his wife and daughter were murdered by the druglord Torrez (Steven Seagal), the deadly Mexican Federale known as Machete (Danny Trejo) is working as a day laborer when he's hired to assassinate the racist Texas Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) in a plot to take down the network of illegal immigrants by the mysterious Shé. With the help of an immigration agent (Jessica Alba), a cook named Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), his preacher friend Padre (Cheech Marin) and a socialite named April (Lindsay Lohan), Machete must get to the bottom of the Senator's plan to put up a fence separating the United States and Mexico." — Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.Net

Machete Himself

"Danny Trejo plays the long-haired, craggy-faced titular Machete with a combination of swift ferocity and baleful kindliness. And the ladies love it. ... Trejo invests his character with an engaging blend of swagger, gravity and terse humor. When Alba's INS agent instructs him to contact her, he snarls, 'Machete don't text.' It's an instant catchphrase." — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Supporting Players

"Other bits that get a giggle are the casting of action-icon Steven Seagal as a Mexican drug lord and Robert De Niro as a murderously xenophobic U.S. senator whose abortive assassination Machete is framed for, setting the bloody, ridiculous plot in motion. You read that right. The Academy Award winner — De Niro, not Seagal — tears into the part of Texas Sen. John McLaughlin with all the relish and finesse of a starving man given a burrito. He has great, messy fun playing a corrupt politician whose aide (Jeff Fahey) arranges for him to be shot at in order to stir up anti-Mexican sentiment, and get him reelected. So, for that matter, does Cheech Marin as a foul-mouthed, gun-toting priest. He's Machete's brother. What did you expect? But just wait until you see Lindsay Lohan. Playing a campier, trampier version of herself — or at least her tabloid image — she at one point gets to dress up as a nun and shoot people. Don't ask. It's complicated (not to mention fairly random). For much of the rest of her 'performance,' she's naked." — Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post

The Dissenters

"An aggressively overstated mashup of testosterone-fueled melodrama, comically exaggerated violence and babe-o-licious action femmes, 'Machete' marks yet another attempt by multihyphenate Robert Rodriguez to simultaneously revive and burlesque the excesses of '70s exploitation pics. Heralded three years ago with a fake trailer in 'Grindhouse,' then developed into a standalone feature, this slam-bang B-movie pastiche is wildly uneven as it doggedly strives (sometimes with obvious strain) to sustain a free-wheeling, anything-goes air of exuberant junkiness." — Joe Leydon, Variety

The Final Word

"[R]est assured that the political satire and commentary merely provide backdrop for flying bullets, swinging blades, spurting arteries, naked babes and tough-guy one-liners ("Machete don't text" is tattoo-worthy). The film takes absolutely wild-eyed delight in viscera, gore and grotesquerie (to wit, one poor fellow's intestine is used as an escape rope, while another man is quite explicitly crucified). ... You can't always count on Rodriguez to get the balance of lunacy, competence and coherence right. But here he more or less gives you exactly what you were looking for: 100 or so minutes as bloody, excessive and ridiculous as those initial 150 or so seconds." — Shawn Levy, The Oregonian

Check out everything we've got on "Machete."

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.