Machete's a Mexican federale who's a straight up guy. He doesn't accept bribes, much to the chagrin of drug kingpin, Torrez (Steven Seagal looking kind of like Wayne Newton if Wayne Newton was attempting to play a Mexican bad guy). Torrez is ruthless in his desire to get Machete off his tail, and sets up the federale in order to corner and kill him - but not before he kills Machete's wife and daughter.
After being left for dead, Machete crosses the border into Texas and looks for work as a laborer. While hanging out in a parking lot with other illegal aliens, Machete meets Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the owner of a taco truck who's also involved in The Network (an organization that helps people cross the border and get jobs). Luz is strong and beautiful, a powerhouse to be reckoned with as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) knows well.
So, Machete's looking for work and lo and behold he's approached by a sleazy businessman (Jeff Fahey) with an offer to kill Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) for $150,000 - and it's an offer he can't refuse if he wants to remain alive and breathing. But when Machete shows up for the job, he quickly figures out he's been set-up. Identified as the would-be assassin, Machete now has to convince Agent Sartana he's not the mastermind of the failed attempt at murdering the senator while figuring out who's actually pulling all the strings.