a critiQal film review xXx (2002)

Plot: Xander (Diesel) is a risk-taking bad boy. Turns out, that's exactly the type of person the NSA is looking for. In his first assignment as new secret agent xXx, he must go to Prague and find out about as much information as he can about a secret organization.

Reviewed
725 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 37s)
  • ...if acting and plot are just stuff that gets in the way of over-the-top action scenes for you, this disaster is right up your alley.

I’d heard the hype, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see xXx or not. After being burned by Vin Diesel in the past (The Fast and the Furious (2001), Pitch Black (2000), Knockaround Guys (2002), etc.), I was very hesitant if I wanted to risk another couple of hours of my life on him.

The mixed reviews didn’t help, either. I’d heard everything from “He’s the new James Bond” to “even the people working on the film thought it sucked.” After seeing the trailers, though, and the massive amounts of action, I figured it was worth a shot. If there’s that much action in the flick, Vin Diesel won’t have to act much, so xXx shouldn’t be half bad, right? Wrong.

The characters were incredibly weak. Casting Vin Diesel as a thug isn’t exactly inspired casting, to say the least. The problem is, if they want him to be anything other then a thug (or the viewer to give a crap about him), he falls apart. He’s better as a bodyguard for someone else – strong, and most definitely silent. He talks, it’s over. This movie wasn’t any different. I can’t blame it totally on him, though. The dialogue was wretched.

The other characters, including Samuel L. Jackson (Sam, sam, sam…why????) all don’t have to act much. They are just filler between action sequences. The viewer doesn’t care if they live or die.

The plot starts off well. A criminal being put into the CIA. No morals. No ties. What could be better? Of course…no training, either. Hopefully, our government isn’t as stupid as it’s portrayed here. Sure, they’re expendable, but if he can’t even shoot, what’s the point?

The dialogue seems to be a mishmash of some of the cheesiest lines ever from action films. “I told him that cigarette was going to kill him” immediately pops to mind. Every time Vin Diesel opens his mouth, out comes yet another cliched line. It’s pathetic. The only line they seem to be missing is from the recent movie The Transporter (2002) (“Last night…that was real”), but since it’s a new movie, they’re forgiven. Oh wait, xXx isn’t a spoof? Oops. My bad.

The action is intense, but amazingly …unbelievable. Anyone remember when Bond dives into an airplane in flight during GoldenEye (1995)? Remember the “Oh, come on now” that echoed through the theater? In xXx…that happens every couple of minutes. For example, most of the audience will laugh when Diesel jump a house with a motorcycle after launching himself off a bump in the road. It just looks too ridiculous for words.

Even the final climactic sequence, with him doing all this crazy stuff, is marred by a bad camera angle that looks entirely fake. The audience could swear they can almost see the blue screen behind him. It’s sad. The filmmakers could have done a lot better with xXx, but they didn’t seem to want to. They just wanted big explosions, big stunts, and people will go. Who cares if they are believable or not? Hopefully, viewers are smarter than that.

All in all, if xXx is really the new James Bond, Ian Fleming must be rolling over in his grave. To disgrace the James Bond legacy by saying that is almost blasphemous. True, all the Bond films haven’t been spectacular (yes, I remember Timothy Dalton too), but for the most part, they’ve had engaging actors, good storylines, and some pretty good action sequences. xXx fails…on all accounts. No engaging actors. Storyline that just falls by the wayside. Action sequences so over-the-top you can’t stop groaning. If you planned to rent this film, skip it.

If you liked The Fast and the Furious (2001), you probably already own this. It means your a big action junkie, and acting and plot are just stuff that gets in the way of over-the-top action scenes. For you, have fun with this one – and be prepared – they’re already working on the sequel. I guess it’s time for them to start milking the cash cow for all it’s worth. Me, I’m off to watch a Bond film.

PS…The best part of xXx has to be the end credits. It’s got great visuals and should have been in the beginning of the film. Would have started the movie off nicely. Of course, the rest still would have been a major disappointment.

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