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It was 11 years ago that Robert Rodriguez made 12-year-old child actress Alexa Vega a star by casting her as the pint-sized butt-kicker Carmen Cortez in the family-friendly action-comedy Spy Kids. Since then, she reprised that role in three more Rodriguez-directed Spy Kids sequels, most recently Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D. But now, for their fifth collaboration, Rodriguez has given her a chance at a more mature role in Machete Kills. And from the first look of Vega as KillJoy, it's clear she's no longer the little girl we all remember.
While it's generally rewarding to see directors reuniting with their past collaborators, I find this pic from Vega's Instagram dispiriting. It's traditionally tough to make the transition from child star to working adult actor, especially for young women who must face the rampant and aggressive sexualizing of starlets. Often, they attempt a "sexy" role to show everyone how grown up they are, but making the leap to respected actress from there instead of just movie eye candy is far more difficult. So, I can't help but think Rodriguez is doing Vega no favors by dressing her in a glitzy push-up bra and Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty" castoffs circa 2002.
Machete Kills is a sequel to the 2010 grindhouse inspired thriller Machete, and stars ex-con turned action star Danny Trejo as Machete Cortez, a burly badass who also appeared—albeit in a more cuddly form—in the Spy Kids movies. However, it's unclear if KillJoy will turn out to be an alias of Carmen Cortez, but let's hope not.
Machete Kills has not yet secured a U.S. release date.