xXx: Movie Man Jackson

xxx

It takes a mercenary to take down a group of ’em. After losing multiple agents in a quest to bring down the mysterious “Anarchy 99” Russian solider gang, the National Security Agency is grasping for straws. Who can successfully infiltrate the organization, one widely believed to be contributing to the production of a biological weapon?

NSA agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) believes that a new approach has to be taken. He turns to Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), extreme sports aficionado and viral superstar with some dirt on him. Reluctant as he his to serve authority, his record will be expunged if he complies. Dubbed xXx, he’s the new breed of secret agent the government needs for this type of mission.

gibbons

It’s important to remember now that when looking at xXx in 2017, the movie was originally released almost 15 years ago, so pretty much a lifetime. It was a very different time then for a bevvy of reasons, but one being the popularity of extreme sports and thrill-seeking mindsets. Sure, Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break (still the best movie about “extreme-ness”) falls into the grouping, but came before the rise. In the span of about five years from 1998-2003, the world got movies such as the Disney classic Brink!, Extreme Ops, the Rollerball remake, The Fast and the Furious, and Biker Boyz, to name a few. After TFatF, xXx is probably the most famous feature of that subgenre, a slightly barely above mediocre actioner.

From the opening scene, xXx is quick to remind the audience this isn’t a mission 007 could handle, as an individual who bears a resemblance to Bond is immediately snuffed out by the baddies and dealt with in a somewhat amusing fashion, all while metal band Rammstein is performing in the background. But this is still a film inspired by Ian Fleming, plot beats and all. Where the good and great Bonds beat this film by a substantial margin are the writing of its characters, and some of the small yet important minautae. Honestly, xXx‘s script isn’t horrid, but it certainly isn’t as cool or as funny as it thinks it is, and probably takes itself a little too seriously than it needs to. Half of the time, a line of dialogue hits, but the other half of the time, Cage’s one-liners are pretty forgettable.

argento

Even many years later, xXx stands as one of Vin Diesel’s more energetic roles. No, that doesn’t mean he’s putting on an acting tour-de-force, but it does mean that his role of Xander Cage has much more pop than some of his other more famous characters. Vin has no problem looking convincing as an action hero—in spite of an extremely hilarious fur coat—pulling off many of his own stunts throughout. Cameos by legendary athletes such as Tony Hawk and Mat Hoffman help sell the idea of Xander as extreme.

The rest of the cast is just OK. Samuel L. plays this one rather straight on the Samuel L sliding scale of memorability, essentially the M to Cage’s Bond with the random funny quip. As the villain, Marton Csokas is the stereotypical Eastern European baddie, nothing more or less, doing what is asked of him with a little hilarity thrown in for good measure. Out of the four main characters, Asia Argento is kind of a dud, her love chemistry with Diesel nonexistent. Seriously, the kissing between the two characters is a little awkward.

But xXx gets by as a fun watch because of its action proficiency. Fast and Furious collaborators Rob Cohen (director) and Neal H. Moritz (producer) join forces again. It may not be saying much considering his directorial catalog, but this could be Cohen’s finest hour as a director. Many of the action scenes are shot smoothly, cuts relatively minimal. Additionally, being shot in locations of Prague and Bora Bora help some of the set-pieces stand out more. The only odd looking one takes place on a snow-capped mountain, CGI looking extremely dated.

xander

Stacked against the best the spy genre has to offer, xXx doesn’t quite have the gadgets to compare. But, it does have just enough panache to get by, making the Xander Zone a passable diversion of time spent.

C+

Photo credits go to alchetron.com, cinemablend.com, impawards.com, and movie-roulette.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

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8 thoughts on “xXx: Movie Man Jackson

  1. Ppphhh, Sam Jackson being named Augustus Gibbons! Hahah!!! WHAT!

    I’ve seen this movie but not for a long, long time. I didn’t even realize he was in it. But now I’m never going to forget, with a freaking name like that. Come on guys, what the hell is going on. . . .

    • It’s fairly dumb, like most actions. But I think it does have some highlights, and it is cool to see Diesel not play a character who is so hardened and whatnot. I think he always has presence in almost all of his roles but I wouldn’t say he’s that charismatic. He is here.

      And Augustus Gibbons? What a name. He’s returning in The Return of Xander Cage lol. Now, to decide if I need to watch xXx: State of the Union or not…

    • Yes and no? The trailer is a little cringey, but, I do see some possibly good action scenes.

      However, Vin looks a little too much like Dom Torretto here, just with all of the ridiculous tats. I actually really do love his Xander character in the first, because he’s so energetic and whattot. I think this will end up feeling like a poor man’s version of Fast Five without the connections to the characters.

  2. Pingback: xXx: Return of Xander Cage: Movie Man Jackson | MovieManJackson

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