XXX: State of the Union Review
By Shawn McKenzie 04/30/2005
Is XXX: State of the Union (I refuse to call it xXx…it’s just so stupid) a goofy movie? Yes it is. Did I groan and roll my eyes more than once during the screening? Yes I did. Was it better than the first movie though? Yes it was.
The movie starts out with a bang. Senior NSA agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) is blindsided for unknown reasons in his underground bunker by a group of heavily armed stealth soldiers who kill 16 NSA agents. Gibbons fortunately avoids being killed himself (by using a car that was already in the bunker and was ready to go…but he had to blow up the bunker’s door to get away anyway. Didn’t he have an automatic door opener in his arsenal of cool stuff?) He realizes that he needs a super agent to fight back, so he helps former Special Op sniper Darius Stone (Ice Cube) escape from a government prison (causing my second eye roll, after the Gibbons escape) so that they can work together. Darius will become the new XXX, since the old XXX, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), was killed in Bora Bora (Gibbons mentions this in passing; Diesel never appears in the movie.) Darius had fought in Kosovo, but he had been imprisoned for nine years (of a 20-year sentence) after first refusing a direct order from General George Octavius Deckert (Willem Dafoe), then breaking Deckert’s jaw. Now Deckert is the Secretary of Defense under President James Sanford (Peter Strauss), so, of course, he is evil. If I have this correct, Gibbons suspects Deckert’s involvement, so that’s why he had to spring Darius out illegally. Whatever. Gibbons and tech geek Toby Lee Shavers (Michael Roof, returning from the first movie), whom Darius calls “College Boy,” both assist Darius in fighting against Deckert, so that the evildoer won’t implement his nefarious plans. What are those nefarious plans? He plans to take out the President, the Vice President, and the Speaker of the House, so that he can be President himself. What’s Deckert’s problem anyway? Sanford wants to decrease military spending and increase the food supply for inner cities and the Middle East. Deckert isn’t having any of that nonsense. Why would Darius care about being the new XXX? It’s because he is ticked at Gibbons for his imprisonment, which he believes Gibbons had a part in. Darius only changes his mind when he realizes that Deckert’s people could kill him in prison, since he is also a target. Rather than allowing that to happen, he becomes XXX. Along with Gibbons and Shavers, he asks for help from high-end car dealership owner Lola Jackson (Nona M. Gaye), a former lover of his, and Zeke (Xzibit), a chop-shop operator (and gun runner apparently.) Unfortunately, another NSA agent, Kyle Steele (Scott Speedman), is trying to find Darius so that he can put him back in jail. During a party (if which he dresses up as a waiter), Darius overhears Deckert and his plans. He also meets Congressional Aide Charlie Mayweather (Sunny Mabrey), the daughter of Cabinet official Jack Pettibone (Ned Schmidtke.) She helps keep Darius away from the authorities while he tries to figure out what his next move is. The next move becomes thwarting Deckert’s plans to kidnap the President during his State of the Union speech (what happened to the whole “killing the cabinet” thingie?) Darius, along with Zeke and his buddies, will fight back against Deckert’s army for the sake of life, liberty, and the rights of carjackers everywhere (I’m not kidding…Darius actually says something like that in this movie.)
Okay…why did I just trash this movie so heavily? It’s because this is movie is almost more unbelievable than the first one…yet I think that the unbelievable parts were a factor in what made it so fun. Aside from the above-mentioned parts, Darius also jumps a motorboat onto a bridge and chases a speeding train with a car traveling at speeds over 200 miles per hour. There is one point where the hefty Cube swims under some explosions with ease and speed, as if he was an Olympic swimmer. Don’t get me wrong…Cube has some guns for arms…but he seemed to be a little too flexible to convince me that he could do some of the things that he does here. Yet, he is so cool doing them. I know…if you read my review of the first movie, I said the same thing about Diesel. After being subjected to The Pacifier and some of the bad movies he has made in the last few years…I’m Dieseled out.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Jackson is the only other cool one in the movie (how could he not be?) Dafoe has been playing the same bad guy so many times that I wouldn’t be surprised if he had it on his business cards (“Willem Dafoe, professional bad guy.”) Speedman does nothing for the movie, and Roof reminds me a little of Marshall Flinkman from ABC’s “Alias.” All of the women are supposed to be professional, yet they sport so much cleavage that it would be hard to take them seriously (or keep men from concentrating.)
Diesel and his director from the first movie, Rob Cohen, originally signed up to do this movie together. They both dropped out (Cohen remained one of the executive producers though), so the producers wanted to keep the franchise going. They hired Lee Tamahori, best known for directing the excellent James Bond film Die Another Day, to do this one. From what I heard, their plan was to have a new XXX each time, so this might be Cube’s last shot here (the rumor is also that they want a female to play the new XXX in XXX3. Jennifer Garner…if you don’t fault her for Elektra…might be good.)
Some people are going to think I’m smoking something for actually liking XXX: State of the Union. It was the same reaction I got when I said that I liked 2 Fast 2 Furious better than The Fast and the Furious. Diesel has done some good movies, and so has Cohen, but together, they don’t seem to work. Will I buy the second XXX on DVD? Probably not…but if you and your friends want to see a cheese puff action movie, even if for no other reason than to trash it like I did…then I recommend the movie. Do it for life, liberty, and bad movies everywhere.
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