Pros: There won't be a xXx 3
Cons: Dumb dialogue, just plain dumb everything
xXx 2 is the sequel to the action-packed Vin Diesel movie from a couple years ago. Like too many action movie sequels, it is full of dumb dialogue, cheesy one-liners, busty women, and over-the-top unrealistic action and situations. As soon as I realized Vin Diesel was not in this sequel, I knew it was not going to be as good as the first.
The plot behind the original xXx was that a secret government agency would recruit thugs and criminals to do special James Bond type missions. That way, if those agents are killed, nobody will miss them. In this movie, Ice Cube becomes the new triple-X after the agencys compound is attacked and most of the officers are killed. Samuel L. Jackson comes back as the leader of the agency and this movies equivalent of the James Bond Q gadget guru character is back. Early on they explain that Vin Diesels character had been killed off.
The plot of this sequel involves corruption in the highest levels of government. Willem Defoe plays the Secretary of Defense who wants to bring back his former Navy Seals and work out a plot to overthrow the government and kill the President. He has a beef with Ice Cubes character from a past event that landed Cube in military prison for 20 years. Now Jackson and crew must go underground and work covertly while trying to stop Defoe. Scott Speedman (Underworld) stars as an NSA agent who is suspicious of Defoes motives and thinks Cubes character may be innocent.
This movie is filled with dialogue that sounds like it was written by a fourteen year old boy who was trying to sound cool for his friends. That means lots of dumb one-liners and attempts at humor. The original xXx was also a little on the juvenile side, but it was still an enjoyable movie. This film suffers from Charlies Angels 2 syndrome where it tried too hard to top the original and failed.
The action scenes started out pretty good because they used real vehicles with real people and real stunts. Toward the end, especially during the final extended action sequence, it relied too much on CGI and looked horribly unrealistic. In one part, he actually drives a car on some railroad tracks by tearing up the tires and running on the rims. It looked as bad as it sounds.
Ice Cube plays pretty much the same guy in most of his movies. He is stone faced and makes a few witty remarks while acting like nobody can touch him. Samuel L. Jacksons entire dialogue is mostly just one-liners that rephrase things he said in the first movie. Speedman does okay toward the end, though he is pretty wooden through the first half of the film. Defoe is always great, but didnt he learn his lesson about bad sequels from Speed 2?
Simon Kinberg wrote the screenplay for this film. In the past, he had done screenplay rewrites on two other bombs: Elektra and the previously mentioned Charlies Angels 2. He is also credited with writing the upcoming Pitt/Jolie action movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith as well as X-Men 3, and that really worries me.
Lee Tamahori (who directed Die Another Day) knows how to direct action films, but he isnt much of an actors director. Perhaps this movie was marketed toward testosterone-poisoned young teenage boys, but that isnt enough to fill the seats. It is no surprise that this $90 million movie has barely made $30 million at the box office. At least there wont be a xXx 3.
Unless you really liked the first one, dont bother seeing this until it comes out on video. It is worth a rental just to see a couple of cool action sequences, but as a whole it is pretty lame.