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Vin Diesel's xXx: X-citement, X-tremity and X-Ray Vision

Aug 13, 2002 (Updated Aug 13, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The blazing action, the unbelievable stunts, Vin Diesel's surprising real-ness.

Cons:The music, the lack of a plot (like you really need one here)

The Bottom Line: He doesn't run on deisel. But he fights like a Hummer. Right in his prime at the age of XXX, or close.

XXX. I came. I saw. I forgot. But looking back, I wouldn't trade it for the two hours that I would have spent sitting on this computer.

XXX is pretty much what I expected it would be, a boatload of action scenes set to the abrasive tunes of Rammstein, Bush and others. Vin Diesel playing Xander Cage, the high fivin' mofo who fights like a Marine and loves his cars. Plot that is for the most part, negligible. And a whole lot of stunts.

Well I guess I should be brutally honest. The stunts didn't exactly blow me away. There were a couple of moments where I would lean back in my seat with my jaw dropped, like I was hanging on for dear life myself. But even in those moments, I knew just as well that it was mostly a conscious reaction, perhaps to help myself feel more vulnerable to Xander's situation. The "surfing on the plummeting car" stunt at the beginning was quite mind-blowing, even if that was already spoiled in the preview. There was a terrific fleeing scene towards the beginning, with numerous explosions, throbbing helicopter whomping and unfathomable motorcycle jumps (seriously, in between two sections of barbed-wire fence?). Then there was the avalanche scene whose special effects seemed to blaze back and forth between amazing and downright putrid. But maybe that was the idea.

There is no denying, xXx is a real ass-kicker.

As far as plot goes, it's something like this. Try to imagine yourself a six-year old kid again, just having been tucked into bed, and Samuel L. Jackson (with some Star Trek looking ridges on his left cheek) is reading you a bedtime story. But it's not really a story, it's more like an overview of a forthcoming mission. Let's stop throwing our mice into the snake pit, and throw in a snake of our own. xXx wastes no time setting up its situations; they need a badass fighter, there he is. Let's get on with the action. And that they do. Don't worry about missing a plot point; most of the time it will be something along the lines of Guess who I really am! or Guess what this really is! The revelation, in turn, becomes a motive or reason for more action. Just try not to blink.

If you can't beat them, join them; then beat them

Xander's motives are not always clear, but that's what keeps him so interesting. I found him to be a pretty likable and surprisingly sincere character in spite of his borderline stone-coldness. Every now and then, he'd flash some great off-the-wall humor, like when he's in the torture room, tied with his hands above his head, and the guy asks him, Is there something you'd like to tell me?, and X replies Yeah, you're short. He got to smile a lot and even when he wasn't smiling, his eyes still were. It's the kind of arrogant charm that I, even as a guy, will drool over because I can only dream of ever being that cool.

Samuel L. Jackson doesn't get a lot of time, but he makes good use of what he does get. He's just a cleverly manipulative old time veteran who has earned his keep. He offers Xander a genuine opportunity to... well, earn his own.

Asia Argento as Yelena is basically another Michelle Branch looking chick, and I have nooooo complaints there :) I've never seen a girl play hard-to-get quite the way she does. She wasn't exactly a fascinating character, but how much can you do with a chick who's on the "bad guys" side anyway? She really starts to shine in the last 15-20 minutes or so.

Speaking of bad guys, again, it's not all black and white at first. When I heard about how and why the big bad gang called Anarchy 99 first came into existence, I wanted to see them 'win', in some way, shape or form. Then I saw what they were really doing. Through a brick wall, no less.

Beavis and Butthead give it two thumbs up

As far as the music goes, I find myself resorting to this analogy again... the burner was turned all the way up, but there was no water in the pot. When choosing a backdrop for scenes as intense as these, I can see how water wouldn't be a high priority. I just can't help but wonder how much differently people would react if, say, the cleverly arranged flurry of guitar chords that follow the chorus of the Goo Goo Dolls' "Big Machine" had been used during a moment of victory. The thing is, you're not supposed to be happy, surprised, or relieved when Xander wins, because this is about a guy who never loses.

Why the heck did I see this anyway?

I don't know. I was kind of in a sh!tty mood yesterday, I was peeved about all the suffering going on in the world, and I just wanted to see somebody kick some ass. Ever get that way?

Well, Diesel filled up with $35 in fuel and took off like a Hummer. I don't normally go for movies like this, but today the mood hit me, so I went, I saw, and I forgot. I forgot my troubles for a few hours. I feel like a country music fan having just gone to an Alice In Chains concert. While the experience was enjoyable at the time, it's not something I think I would do again. And if the sequel came out tomorrow, I highly doubt I would see it unless the mood hit me. Making a sequel to this movie, to me, is like making a sequel to Tetris.

But they did make a sequel to Tetris, though, didn't they? Worse yet, I actually played it.

Recommend this product? Yes

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