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xXx, pronounced "Triple X", is a 2002 American action film directed by Rob Cohen and starring Vin Diesel in the lead role as Xander Cage, a thrill seeking extreme sports enthusiast, stuntman and rebellious extreme sport athlete-turned-reluctant spy for the National Security Agency who is sent on a dangerous mission to infiltrate a group of potential terrorists in Eastern Europe. xXx also stars Samuel L. Jackson, William Hope, Danny Trejo, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Michael Roof, Leila Arcieri and Tom Everett. The film received mixed reviews but was a financial success for the studios, grossing US$277,448,382 worldwide. It was followed by a 2005 sequel entitled xXx: State of the Union. An NSA agent on a mission infiltrates a concert where Rammstein is performing only to be killed by Anarchy 99, a rebellious Eastern European underground group. After losing the third agent assigned to the mission, NSA operative Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L.
And it really isn't. XXX has been carefully sculpted to maintain a teen-friendly PG-13 rating, an audience The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen squarely targets and hits perfectly
and thus, leaving us adults bored out of our skulls.
Make no mistake, teens are going to eat this movie up and excrete it two hours later, repeating the process over and over again until The Fast and the Furious 2 eventually comes out. In the film, Furious star Vin Diesel appears in nearly every scene, and he's almost always doing something illegal, something extreme!!!, or both. He's a real renaissance man: Vin skateboards, snowboards, sky-dives, snowboards while skydiving, grinds a staircase railing on a silver tray, rides motorcycles, drives fast cars, crashes fast cars, plays with a bunch of improbable tech gadgets (see through clothes!), and espouses the virtues of video games.
Why is he doing all this? What does that matter? The intended audience doesn't care one bit about Vin's motivation, as long as he blows up a lot of shit along the way, man! But for those of you curious about what kind of plot could involve all these activities, it's got something to do with Diesel's three-time felon named Xander (triple-X, get it?), who is offered a chance to work for the U.S. government busting a group of anarchists in Prague who plan to start a world war by unleashing biochemical missiles on cities throughout the world. If I was even more cynical I'd ask how a bunch of anarchists got so much money (they are loaded, seriously), but that would make me a killjoy.
Xander is forced by his handler (Samuel L. Jackson, just earnin' a paycheck) to infiltrate the group's base in Prague, and there he encounters the dangerously ravishing Russian Yelena (Asia Argento), whose job appears to be lounging in her underwear in provocative yet probably uncomfortable poses, if for no other reason than to stand out from the hundreds of other bikini- or bra-clad women scampering through the production.
I realize XXX is an action movie, but I was really hoping for something beyond the intellect of a Jean-Claude Van Damme kickboxing flick. For starters, the plot is totally idiotic. (Biggest question: If the anarchists wipe out Prague, where they live, won't they kill themselves too? And more importantly: Won't they kill all the bikini- and bra-clad women who come to their parties? I guess that's anarchy, baby!) As well, the dialogue is painfully bad, delivered in such a stilted manner as to make it seem like a joke.
But worst of all is that the action is simply boring. Every scene ends the same way: with Diesel jumping off or over something, and usually while that something is blowing up. In slow motion. We see the scene eight times from eight different camera angles -- all in slow motion -- meant, I presume, to prove that it's not CGI and that, yes, a real stuntman was riding that motorcycle. I almost fell asleep. Aside from a very impressive avalanche sequence (and ironically, that is CGI), XXX is a dud. You'll find far better action in Minority Report and Spider-Man.
In the end, Diesel is much more fun as a real bad guy (Pitch Black and even Furious) than as a phony secret agent. And while I appreciate the family-friendly message, delivering anti-smoking public service announcements in the middle of the movie just doesn't fit your character, Vin.
In summary, I've pretty much resigned myself that this review is going to bring me a flood of hate mail from the XXX-obsessed, but I take comfort in knowing that none of it will be properly spelled.
Hey folks, there's a new DVD that gives you not one, but two DVDs of XXX for your ever-loving buck. This new Special Edition is an unrated cut that features eight additional minutes of footage, an epilogue called 'The Death of Xander' (gasp!), sneaks at the upcoming XXX sequel, and endless behind-the-scenes looks, including a feature length commentary track.
'I love you and the guns.'