Tuesday, May 10, 2005

xXx: State of the Union

XXX: STATE OF THE UNION (Lee Tamahori, 2005)

In XXX: STATE OF THE UNION, Vin Diesel’s XXX is killed off in a line of dialogue, so a new deep cover agent is needed to keep America safe. As agent Augustus Gibbons Samuel L. Jackson recruits prisoner Darius Stone, played by Ice Cube. Darius must protect the President and other top officials from the Defense Secretary’s plot to have them killed, thus clearing his way to lead the nation.

The first XXX put a new American generation’s twist on James Bond. It wasn’t exactly the reinvention of the wheel, but XXX had the energy and ludicrous stunts that have been lacking in the flagging 007 series. XXX: STATE OF THE UNION doesn’t fail because Diesel didn’t return. Ice Cube is a capable replacement who brings a better sense of humor. His presence leads to some potentially interesting racial subtext that earns a couple laughs but doesn’t get explored enough. XXX: STATE OF THE UNION falls flat because Lee Tamahori directs the action scenes with the grace of a bull in a china shop. A fight between two tanks on a ship sounds promising. In execution it’s a blur of overediting and tight close-ups, a charge that can be levied against too many contemporary action films. The screenplay is a mess too, although it does end with a wild chase on a bullet train careening through Washington D.C., the only setpiece that really works.

Grade: C-

(Review first aired on the May 10, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

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