"xXx: State of the Union"
Directed by Lee Tamahori ("Die
Written by Simon Kinberg.
Starring Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman and Samuel L.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 5/1/05
I rounded up a gang of thieves, including
Chuck "The Daddy" Longer, Rina Fo' Fina, Ross, and Mr. Stokes, to go
see what we all thought would certainly be the worst film of
2005..."xXx: State of the Union" (known going forward as "xXx 2").
Sadly, I must report the truth to the good people of our viewing
"xXx 2" did NOT suck.
In fact, if you go with the right group of
people and realize that no one working on this production was
worried about comparisons with "Citizen Kane" or "Schindler's List",
"xXx 2" is actually a hilarious time at the movies because at almost
every turn, this film is totally fucking ridiculous.
Where do I even begin? How about with
Ice Cube, cast in the lead role for the sequel as Darius Stone,
former Navy SEAL and the Navy's second-best sniper training score
holder in history? The Cube is great here, back in scowl mode
after a few years off as the heir apparent to Eddie Murphy's
newfound family film career; he isn't asked to do much more than
fire weapons and look tough, and thankfully the one-liners Stone
must reel off are kept to a minimum. Playing a convict that
was wrongly imprisoned nine years ago by a corrupt government
official (Willem Dafoe, apparently blind to the writing on the wall
after doing "Speed 2: Cruise Control" all those years ago), Stone is
broken outta the joint by his former field supervisor, Augustus
Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his role from the first film).
Why would one government guy break a former soldier out of prison?
Well, after Gibbons' entire NSA unit is assassinated in a raid to
open the film, he needs someone to investigate who was behind the
attacks...someone with the skills that pay the bills, and apparently
there was no one else besides Stone available.
There were about 40 times during this film
where, due to script inaccuracies, stretches of incredible disbelief
or plain ol' Hollywood gratuitousness, I could not stop howling.
I have decided that in the case of "xXx 2", this didn't make the
film bad so much as setting up minor roadblocks for me to decide
whether or not I should slam this into Hard Vice territory or
elevate it to the price that I paid for it, Matinee. Examples:
Stone has been in prison for nine years;
the next day, in four minutes, he breaks out of a maximum
security prison almost completely by himself. And, he
resumes one-shot across-the-field kills the following morning.
Maybe Stone was playing "Duck Hunt" in his prison cell.
At one point, Stone goes from a dinner
downtown to a senator's house in Charlottesville. Even
though this would take no less than two hours in real life, in
the movie: fifteen minutes.
Every morning, I keep asking myself the
same question: how cool would it be to put a temporary stripper
pole on the hood of my '97 Saturn for girls to dance on while I
hang out in a auto mod garage? "xXx 2" answers that
question for me.
As NSA agents investigating the initial
slaughter go over Stone's profile, the producers decided to use
a shot of the young Cube while he was in N.W.A. to highlight his
upbringing. This made all of us--old-school rap fans, for
sure--burst with approval.
Bruce Bruce, quite simply the biggest
black guy I've ever seen on screen and the host of some comedy
show on BET, with my favorite line of the film: "That
ain't no cheese!"
Lee Tamahori, who brought Bond back to life
with "Die Another Day" a couple of years ago, does inject good times
with his action sequences; some of the stuntwork in "xXx 2" really
DOES look dangerous, right down to one number where you definitely
see a stuntman thrown out of the way by a Humvee that makes contact
with him. From the sheer amount of exploding vehicles, at
least the film looks dangerous, even if it is fluffy and a
prototypical "big, loud, dumb" formula thriller; plus, I did like
the soundtrack and any scene involving Xzibit just kind of hangin'
At the end of the day, though, "xXx 2" is
not great. Its PG-13 rating--also a bane for the first
"xXx"--limits the amount of violence included
here (although the producers did their best to squeeze every little
bit out of the ratings boards, thanks to gunplay, fistfights, and
high amounts of innocents getting killed) and the film comes from
other objectify-women-at-all-costs rule-based systems like
Fast and the Furious" and
I think there were only two women with lines in the whole damned
movie, including Nona Gaye as the Cube love interest, who looks like
she is wearing a top that is about to explode at any moment
throughout the movie. Peter Strauss, playing the President,
looks like he trying hard just to get his lines to sound like he is
buying into any of this bullshit. The movie's main plot, which
involves the Dafoe character's intent on removing the President from
office, doesn't even have any muster to it...he wants more funding
for a military bill, so when he doesn't get it, he plots to take
over the free world? And, finally, there are no lines that
measure up to still might be the funniest line of the
last...forever, from the first "xXx":
Well...at least I came in with low
expectations. Ultimately, I would have preferred to see Vin
Diesel back in his role from the first film, but it was not meant to
be (his character is even killed off in reported events during the
sequel)...he obviously felt that "The Pacifier" was a better route
for him to take. Wuss.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard