This film is what it says it is. Nothing less. And perhaps a little more.
Most of Machete's critics that have given overall negative reviews, have fallen into a trap of their own devices. Machete is an exploitation film and was advertised as such. By definition, and exploitation film will include excessive violence, gore, nudity, and be high on intentional corny lines while low on plot devices and character development. To give low ratings to Machete because of one's distaste for the genre, would be like saying "The Shinning was awful because I don't like horror."
This is one of Rodriguez best films to date, side by side with Sin City (2005). Machete delivers on all accounts of action, gore, nudity, and corny lines. The plot is simple, but honestly, that's how it should be. The thing that sets this apart from other exploitation films is that the acting is top notch. I personally found that the three main female characters to be the most intriguing and diverse.
Jessica Alba plays the part of an ICE agent struggling with her loyalty to her nation and her people. She slowly begins to question her own logic on if people should follow law simply because they are laws. We see this struggle immediately, when she approaches a taco stand (apparently once every week) to by a coffee and lunch, despite her own people feeling from her site. Why does she continue this ritual? She says it is to check the papers of the character Luz, but really it is to try and hold onto a sliver of identity among her people.
Michelle Rodriguez plays said Luz (aka She) as an underground leader of illegal immigration. The character of Luz is a simple woman who believes in not bending to the broken system, but fighting for her people (the mirror image of Alba). "She" is only a myth on which Luz has built a cult following, understanding that sometimes being a myth can do more damage than flesh and blood. By the end of the film, Luz is reborn as the mythical She, just in time for the bloody battle.
Finally, the actress that surprised me the most was Lindsay Lohan. Despite only receiving 10-15 minutes of screen time (most are which she is undressed), she plays her character perfectly and flawlessly. The role seems to be written specifically for her and I applaud her for stepping up and taking on such a mature role. One of her first scenes is a tongue-in-cheek conversation about how she needs to give the people of the internet what they want, and that is more of her. Lohan played the part beautifully (in all aspects) and specks of talent are clearly visible. I hope that filmmakers and audiences (as well as herself) continue to allow her opportunities to showcase that talent.
Machete is an exploitation film at its finest. And, for the most part, if you are the type of cinema attendee who wants to see a movie called Machete in the first place, chances are you will be thoroughly entertained.