“xXx” | Movie Review

Grade (C+)

An action romp with enough spectacular thrills to be considered pure mindless fun.


Synopsis

An action sports junkie who has garnered a massive online following from his outrageous stunts is recruited by a government agency for a special mission, requiring a look and attitude that may be right in his area of expertise.

My Thoughts

With the announcement of Vin Diesel stepping back into the boots of the anti-hero Xander Cage in a new “xXx” film I decided to give the original a viewing since I had not seen it since its release in 2002. After watching, it was ridiculously absurd, it was over-the-top, and it was also just as mindlessly entertaining as I remember. I was in my mid-twenties when this film first came out and while I remembered enjoying it then, I was highly doubting I would still feel the same in my mid-thirties.

For what it wanted to be “xXx” was a success. Vin Diesel was in the process of building his legacy as an action star and even today he still feels perfect for the role of Xander Cage. His delivery of cheap one-liners and puns was surprisingly charismatic and despite the dumb material, he conveys it with energy and makes the most out of some flat out moronic (80’s movie-esque) lines in the screenplay. Diesel was also perfect for the anti-hero this film wanted him to be. He felt every bit the part of the adrenaline-junkie/stunt-man with his physicality, not to forget the bad attitude and disrespect for authority that he nails with great impact through his charming performance.

You will not do yourself any favors by dissecting the story-line given it is riddled with cliches and stock characters. In short this was a action spoof, of what James Bond would look like it he came out of the X-Games. The story was not the focus of this film but merely the device to boast as many wild stunts into a single film as possible. It was clear the script was simply there to provide scenarios for Diesel’s character to constantly use his extreme sports skills to create spectacular action-sequences.

Do not worry about the mission, its stupid, don’t look too hard into the generic villain, we all know he will die, don’t invest any interest in the love-story angle of this film, its a simple plot device and builds zero plausibility. Just enjoy this film as a pure action romp that will give you some chuckles and an over abundance of action, and by doing so you fill find yourself much more entertained.

This film was not intricate and it never gave off the appearance of trying to be such. I mean this film has Diesel snowboarding from an avalanche, jumping and exploding barn with a dirt-bike, sky-diving out of a Corvette that he drives off a bridge, you see where I am going, a plausible story formula was clearly left out during the creation of this one.

You can tell the film does not takes itself seriously and even the characters give off a feel of amusement at the lines they are delivering which gives off a nice lighthearted feel. This is certainly not a film to take seriously, but to simply sit back and turn the brain off to see the visual buffet of stunts. Stunts that were shot with so many cameras, that the editing of this film ensures you see every thing possible with many cuts from various angles added with some slow-motion capturing. Normally this would come across as nothing but forced, however, for this film it works because there is some classic stunt-work created in this project that are still to this day amazing because of their ambition and creativity.

Every single action-sequence in this movie could have been shot with a green screen and finished off with CGI but the effort and orchestration of actually performing many of the stunts in real-time was, and is still commendable. There were some great shots and overall the cinematography was excellent. This film sold itself on spectacle and the cinematography ensured it caught all the action.

This film was entirely too long without a doubt, and that was the main hindrance of it. A ridiculous story like this can either work to entertain or feel like a waste of time, but when the length drags out too long, either way they feel like the latter. While I did find this one fun it was entirely too stretched out and could have done itself huge favors by wrapping itself up twenty-minutes sooner. But to the filmmakers credit the pace really never falters, there were just so many action-sequences they wanted to fill this script with. This one could have also done without all the scene openings from the perspective of the xXx tattoo on the back of his neck, it was not major but after awhile it was like, ‘okay, we get it’.

“xXx” also boasted some fun international locations and gadgetry to tie it in with its depiction of the spy-world. There was also very good costume and wardrobe design to give it a stylish flair that matched the films overall attitude. With a new film on the horizon the possibilities are endless. It remains to be seen if Diesel can turn the character of Xander Cage into an action icon but regardless, this first film in the growing franchise is the classic definition of guilty pleasure for all fans of the over-the-top realm of action movies.



– Starring –

Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Samuel L. Jackson, Marton Csokas, Werner Daehn, Petr Jákl, Danny Trejo, Eve

– Directed By –

Rob Cohen

Time: 124 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For violence, non-stop action sequences, sensuality, drug content and language)


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