Action
xXx
.
Dir: Rob Cohen
Star: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Samuel L Jackson, Marton Csokas
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2002
Format: DVD R1
'

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is an extreme sports nut, in fact amongst the Pepsi max drinking, bandanna wearing, airheads he is somewhat of a god. After pulling a stunt where he drives a Senator's car over a bridge he comes to the attention of NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) who is looking for a new breed of agent. Passing early tests, he is sent in to gain intelligence about Yorgi (Marton Csokas) an Russian gangster. It soon become clear that he has something big planned that will threaten the world, however the key to finding out what lies with the Yorgi's girlfriend Yelena (Asia Argento). It looks like Xander (xXx) will have to save the world whether he likes it or not.

After working together on The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel have been reunited to give us this secret agent movie, it is a sort of James Bond for the MTV generation. Big stunts, cool one liners, and silly techno gadgets are the name of the day then. But added to this mix are a serious dose of attitude, and some pretty unique extreme sports moves. It is obvious that xXx is here for James Bonds crown and he doesn't care who he has to punch to get it.

The best thing about the film is the stunts. The film opens at a pace with a neat car chase and a dive over a bridge, but things really hot up with the motorbike stunts in the helicopter shoot out. In many ways this is the best bit of the film. There is loads of great action to keep you going, with the snowboarding avalanche scene and tea tray escape giving some further highlights. It is nice to see CGI used properly as in this film with the computer effects seamlessly merged with the real life stunts to a stunning effect. Rob Cohen's direction of action is very good and while things are silly suspension of disbelief is just about maintained. The outcome is one wild ride.

We tipped Vin Diesel as one to watch early last year and it looks like we weren't wrong. He is excellent as Xander Cage. His physical presence and deep menacing voice are matched by fine acting skills, which give his character a real edge. Daughter of horror maestro Dario Argento, Asia Argento is the female lead, and she just exudes an air of indie rock chick cool sexuality. A good performance that ensures that her female character is anything other than token. On the downside we have Marton Csokas who gives us a generic Russian bad guy. The problem is he just doesn't stand out, and he certainly can't compete with any of the Bond badies. Also the character of Toby Shavers is just plain annoying, and in Michael Roof totally miscast. When will Hollywood learn that if you want a person to look like a geek it takes more than just a pullover? Thank heavens then for Samuel L Jackson who is as usual superb.

So far xXx is holding its own then against Bond, but here in lies the problem. It is obvious that xXx is meant to be a modern replacement for Bond. He is hip, he dresses cool, he has attitude, or at least he does for the first half of the film. You see after a while the film stops trying to compete with Bond and starts trying to be Bond. This means that by the end you have a character that is mealy a street smart Bond clone with a seriously ugly American muscle car (sorry guys the GTO just isn't cool, it looks like an early Ford Cortina on steroids for heavens sake). This is a waste, as flag-waving heroics replace the initial antiestablishment attitude. I mean would someone would hates government and the whole structure of power have a US flag parachute (unless he was trying to copy Bonds union jack parachute), it just doesn't sit well with the character. It looks like Xander desperately needs some attitude lessons from Snake Plissken.

Unfortunately this isn't the only fault. The film cries out for a 15+ rating instead it has a toned down PG13 rating. This means no blood and guts, and no sex. This really effects the story badly. Xander is meant to be a hard assed character yet due to the rating the violence has been bought down to A-Team levels, and thus Xander loses his edge. The worst moment has to be the effects of the poisoned gas, which are so tame (cough, cough fall over) as to almost completely lose its scariness, and therefore denying impact to the finale. This film cries out for an injection of blood and flesh, as it is it is far too tame.

xXx is entertaining and fun, in a don't think about it too hard sort of way. Vin Diesel, Asia Argento and Samuel L Jackson are excellent and the stunts are breath takingly stunning. So as Bond clones go it really compares well. But that is just it, It is nothing more than a Bond clone in hip clothes, it really could have been a whole lot more. Yet again James Bond proves he is the master of the spy game, Xander Cage comes is a watchable second.

Tagline

A New Breed Of Secret Agent.

Quotes

Welcome to the Xander Zone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Great Picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Nice explosions some great effects.
Features Audio Commentary with Rob Cohen
Filmmakers diary featurette
Mostly awful deleted scenes
Vin Diesel featurette
Designing The World Of XXX Featurette
Building Speed Featurette
Laughably bad GTO is Back Featurette
Adrenaline Music Video
Verdict Good film presentation but the extras are some what lacking and of variable quality

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home