Robert Rodriguez is one of those rare filmmakers whose movies -- for better or worse -- always come alive with his sheer enjoyment of making them.
In the case of Machete, that's a good thing. Unlike his corny kids' movies (Spy Kids, Shorts), Machete bleeds pure entertainment. Returning to the crank-it-up style Rodriguez brought to his half of the vastly underrated Grindhouse, Machete comes out swinging -- and usually what it's swinging includes an extremely sharp blade.
In fact, "Machete" was first glimpsed as a coming-attractions trailer between the two halves of Grindhouse. With its delicious catch-phrase, "You fucked with the wrong Mexican," it promised over-the-top action and a dizzying cast that ran the gamut from Jessica Alba to Lindsay Lohan, built around character actor Danny Trejo in the title role.
Rodriguez delivers on the promise of that trailer and then some. Indeed, the first 10 minutes of Machete contains more wild action than the climax of most ordinary action films.
No doubt there will be those critics who don't appreciate Rodriguez's gory aesthetic. His style here is pure drive-in exploitation film, circa 1973, right down to the choppy edits. Everything is overstated and takes the action two notches farther than you'd expect. Rodriguez is like a kid with a new toy (or an old favorite), amping things to suit his own pleasure center, perpetually asking the question, "Wouldn't it be cool if ...?"
Like, wouldn't it be cool if Machete, a Mexican federale played by the menacingly scowly Trejo, attacked a drug lord's headquarters, chopped off the hand of a guy with a gun in it, then picked up the gun, and used the severed hand to squeeze the trigger?
Or: wouldn't it be cool if Machete mounted a pair of gatling guns on a motorcycle, then flew it off a ramp, shooting bad guys as he soared through the air?
Or ... well, put it this way: If Rodriguez could think of it, he has included it in this film.