Thursday, April 22, 2010

James Bond for the tatooed skateboarder crowd

xXx (aka Triple X) (2002)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, Asia Argento, and Marton Csokas
Director: Rob Cohen
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

After losing several agents attempting to get the goods on a mysterious Russian crime group known as Anarchy 99, NSA honcho Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) decides it's time to fight fire with fire. He recruits extreme sportsman, professional rebel, and underground Internet celebrity Xander Cage (Diesel) into the agency's service and sends him to eastern Europe. After gaining the trust of Yorgi (Csokas), the Russian military officer turned ararchist and crimelord, he discovers that Anarchy 99 is a far more deadly terrorist threat than anyone has imagined even in their worst nightmares.

"xXx" is a James Bond movie for the skateboarding, snowboarding, tongue-piercing, random tatooing, baggy-pants crowd. From Xander's nifty spy-toys through the superweapon that Yorgi is going to unleash on the world, this film follows the step-by-step recipies that every Bond film since "Diamonds Are Forever" has followed. The action has been amped up--it's pretty much non-stop for the two-hour running time of the film--but the major showpiece stunts are pretty much what you'd expect to see in a James Bond film... and the same is true to the climax AND the denoument.

Heck, there's even one element of this film that makes it seem a tiny bit more sensible and believable than most James Bond films: Xander Cage is established as being 100% capable of pulling off crazy stunts with just about any mode of transportation you care to think of. How exactly did James Bond master such skills? (Not that I'm saying "xXx" is realistic, but then I'd never accuse a James Bond movie of that either.)

People who slam this movie like to complain about Vin Diesel's acting. I don't know what their problem is, as I think he does a fine job... considering he doesn't really have to act at all in this film. (The one scene where he does does do some acting--where Yorgi shows himself to be a more psychopathic monster than even the worse Bond foes--he does an okay job, given the character has been established as having nerves of titanium and a large amount of sympathy for "the little guy.") If there's someone that should be slammed for not giving much of a performance, it should be Asia Argento; she's attractive to look at, but she's not much of an actress, if one is to judge her by this film.

All in all, "xXx" succeeds extremely well as being at being a spy-movie in the James Bond mold. Check it out; it's a great deal of fun.

1 comment:

  1. Thought this a tough sit! Vin Diesel was really weak in it. Plus he uttered the cringe-inducing line of "Welcome To The Xander Zone!"