Xxx

"Weak"

Xxx Review


More wow-worthy than an afternoon at the X-Games, more feebly-scripted than a gunfire-filled X-Box action game rated "M" for mature, "XXX" is cool, cool, cool until director Rob Cohen gets to the last act and has to make room between stunts to resolve the knuckleheaded plot.

Billed as a tattooed, testosterone-injected, street-smart, 21st Century usurper to James Bond's explosions-and-espionage glory, the flick is a custom-designed career vehicle for Vin Diesel, Hollywood's fastest-rising bald-and-bulging bad-ass. Considered a hot property after stealing all the thunder in "The Fast and the Furious," Diesel has re-teamed with Cohen, that film's director, for this picture about an extreme sports daredevil and social activist hoodlum recruited by the National Security Agency to go undercover where their Bond-ish, well-bred, erudite agents can't fit in.

The movie begins with Xander Cage (Diesel) -- known as Triple X because of a tattoo on the back of his neck -- swiping the new Corvette of a politician who wants to censor rock music and video games. He straps cameras to the car, then gives a live web-cast diatribe about the First Amendment while driving off a bridge into a gorge and parachuting to safety as the car blows up.

Soon thereafter he's dart-gunned and kidnapped by black-ops NSA troops who repel through the windows of his hip-grungy, warehouse-conversion loft. He wakes up in what looks like a diner, where he foils a fake robbery then proceeds to tell the secret agent scout who has been watching him (Samuel L. Jackson, sleepwalking through a sardonic mentor role) how and why he knew the whole thing was a set-up. Another "test" follows, in which Xander and a couple other ruffian recruits are literally dropped into the middle of a Colombian drug operation to see if they'll survive. Soon Triple X is jumping a motorcycle over the roof of an exploding barn and between two strands of razor wire atop a 30-foot fence while military helicopters blanket the joint with machine gun fire.

Such scenes are a blast -- often literally -- even if they are scored with loudly monotonous angry white-trash rock (bands with names like Hatebreed litter the soundtrack). And the action only gets better. The film's most visually amazing showpiece involves Triple X deliberately setting off an avalanche then out-running it on a snowboard. By the time it occurs to you the wall of snow must be a special effect, your heart is already pounding.

But whenever the stunts stop and the story kicks in, "XXX" nose-dives into the land of lobotomized screenwriting (by "Airheads" scribe Rich Wilkes) and the movie's facade of adrenaline-cool falls to pieces.

Fully deputized as a one-time NSA operative, Triple X is assigned to infiltrate a gang of leather-clad, unshaven Euro-thugs from Central Casting who host raves every night and bed anonymous bimbos that wear little more than charcoal briquette eyeliner. (Women, including spy-girl love interest Asia Argento, are nothing but currency and sex toys in "XXX.")

By day these party animals are anarchist terrorists who have some vague, laughably far-fetched and entirely unmotivated plan to poison the world's water supplies using a remote-controlled submarine that fires biological weapons. As villains, these clowns have all the credibility of a professional wrestler without a nickname, and foiling their plan is absurdly easy since the picture's finale ignores all kinds of "facts" established earlier in the story. The aforementioned submarine, for example, launched from a mountaintop hide-away that suddenly has a river at its base when the script calls for it, never submerges. So Triple X can follow it and jump onboard from a bridge, saving the day in an unnecessarily complex way when blowing the thing up with a missile launched from his tricked-out 1967 Pontiac GTO would have sufficed.

Diesel almost saves "XXX" by cutting such an impressive figure as an action hero. Muscle-bound, menacing and pug-mugged but exuding sexy, cavalier confidence, he's a good enough actor to sell the secret agent potential behind his fearless, street-wise, live-for-the-moment character. If there's anything screenwriter Wilkes does right, it's not to saddle the guy with stupid catch-phrase dialogue. Triple X speaks more like an ironic post-catch-phrase hero. "I like anything fast enough to do something stupid in," he says of his beloved car. If this movie is a hit, Diesel and The Rock ("The Scorpion King") are set to become this decade's Schwartzenegger and Stallone.

Unfortunately, early thrills, groovy gadgets (X-ray binoculars!) and oozing style and personality don't change the fact that "XXX" becomes so monumentally idiotic and cliché-driven in its last 30 minutes that even checking your brain at the door won't be enough to insulate your intellect from its insultingly incompetent and self-contradictory conclusion.



Xxx

Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th August 2002

Box Office USA: $141.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $277.4M

Budget: $70M

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Original Film, Revolution Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 86 Rotten: 92

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Xander Cage, as Yelena, as Yorgi, Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Gibbons, as Agent Toby Lee Shavers, Petr Jákl Jr. as Kolya, Richy Müller as Milan Sova, as Virg, as J.J., as Jordan King, as Agent Roger Donnan, Ted Maynard as James Tannick, as Virg

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.