XXX: State of the Union movie poster
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XXX: State of the Union movie poster

XXX: State of the Union Movie Review

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A sequel to "XXX" was inevitable. After all, the first one was a big success, and, while not especially intelligent, was pretty entertaining. The same can be said about "XXX: State of the Union," except it is a thousand times dumber and flopped miserably at theaters.

This time around, Vin Diesel has been replaced by Ice Cube, a badass military agent who has spent the last nine years in prison for a crime I didn't really care to pay attention to. Since Diesel [smartly] decided not to do the sequel, the only explanation given is that he was killed off and now the NSA needs a new agent to replace him. In other words, Sony wasn't willing to pay Diesel enough to keep the franchise alive, and Diesel was smart enough to get out before he made a fool of himself. Unfortunately, Ice Cube wasn't nearly as lucky. Ice Cube generally chooses pretty good films, but his desire to do "XXX2" baffles me. Sure, there's the allure of playing a badass, beating people up and getting to spend time around beautiful women, but did he read the screenplay ahead of time? Diesel certainly did. If there is one thing that ruins the film, it's the screenplay. 'Absolutely horrible' comes to mind. 'Laughably bad' is another one. Regardless, the dialogue is a joke, and I don't know how respectable actors like Ice Cube and Samuel L. Jackson could keep a straight face throughout the course of filming. The dialogue is so bad that even Jackson can't make sense of it.

On top of the piss-poor dialogue, director Lee Tamahori brings another element to ""XXX2," and not in a good way. Tamahori, the genius who ruined "Die Another Day" with giant laser beams and ice surfing (basically it was a serious version of "Austin Powers'), delivers the same intelligent action as he did in that fateful James Bond movie. Some of the action is good and quite entertaining, but other sequences make little sense. A motorboat defies gravity for way too long, Ice Cube is able to escape from prison by leaping onto a helicopter that none of the prison guards seemed to notice, and the entire climax is so bad I might as well have been watching a cartoon. As the villain (Willem Dafoe) speeds away on the Presidential bullet train that doesn't exist, Ice Cube accelerates his car to a blinding 220 miles per hour to catch up with it, and just when you think he can't go any faster he hops onto the train tracks, somehow manages to shed his tires so that he is driving on the rails, and then smash into the back of the train just long enough for him to leap aboard. Then, just before the train explodes he manages to jump off a tall bridge - mind you still going upwards of 200 mph - shoot a grenade into the water and turn it to steam so he can dive into the water without hurting himself. Mr. Tamahori, action scenes need to be believable! Not laughable. Believable!

Admittedly, I didn't hate "XXX2" as much as I was expecting. It does have its moments and is never boring, but the screenplay and direction really kill any chance of it being even mildly rewarding. The potential is there, but I'd rather stick with James Bond any day of the week.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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