Directed by Rob Cohen.
Written by Rich Wilkes.
Starring Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas and Samuel L.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 8/12/02
Thank God, “XXX” didn’t suck. In what was
the most hyped film of the year not called “Spider-Man”, “XXX”
delivers on the parts that it is supposed to: the action.
But, for many reasons, the film’s
mostly-atrocious dialogue and its PG-13 rating hurt it just as much
as all of that action. The brief plot overview involves superstar
extreme athlete Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) getting roped into spy work
by NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) to clean Cage’s criminal
record. The mission is to head to Prague to stop Yorgi (Marton
Csokas), a Russian madman, and his sexy partner-in-crime Yelena
(Asia Argento), who are planning to launch a biological
weapon-of-destruction into orbit.
Let’s make it simple—here’s why “XXX” is
1. Vin Diesel. Even while delivering
Arnold-esque lines like “I told you smoking would kill you one day!”
Diesel is badass and incredibly watchable. I still haven’t figured
out what it is about Diesel that I like so much (besides his
ridiculous name), but I am sure that his cool rating is really
damned high. Plus, he actually does some of his stuntwork, rare for
a film with so many demanding...
2. Stunts. Sure, that Colombian hideout
motorcycle sequence IS ridiculous, but you can’t take your eyes off
of it! Did it occur to you during the scene that it was written to
be ridiculous? Director Rob Cohen (who also directed Diesel in
Fast and the Furious”) blows up nearly every building, vehicle and
mountain in “XXX” and I was laughing the whole way. There are cool
set pieces like that hideout scene throughout the film...and, the
snowboarding sequence is awesome.
3. Action, in an action movie. It is
getting tougher and tougher to find action movies that deliver
fighting, gunplay and car chase scenes these days, and “XXX” has
4. Beautiful shots of Prague. Hey, I’ve
been to Prague, and the production team for “XXX” seems to have
gotten all of the good locations in town in the film. The
architecture of the buildings in the city seems to be represented
here in the made-up locations (like Yorgi’s club) and, much like the
real Prague, damned near everyone in town speaks English first, and
some other language second.
5. What may be the best line of the year—if
you see the movie, listen for what one of the henchmen says when he
commands some hot women to enter the VIP area of Yorgi’s club.
Basically, I will be saying that in clubs for, well, the rest of my
6. Two words: 1967 Pontiac GTO.
“XXX” does feature lots of bad acting, and
judging by his reading of his one line, even skateboarding legend
Tony Hawk ought to avoid feature films. Csokas doesn’t really
convince you that he is supposed to be evil, and even the
normally-reliable Jackson is useless in his limited screen time.
Also, Diesel seems trapped sometimes by the lines, but judging from
his past work in “Saving Private Ryan” and
“Boiler Room”, I know
that with the right director he is capable of doing better things.
And, how good would “XXX” have been if it
had been rated R instead of PG-13? We’ll never know. But for
action films—especially, ones that clearly shoot for the fantastic
and not the realistic—like “XXX”, a little more toughness (i.e.,
bone-busting fights, martial-arts scenes that are more Jet Li than
Jackie Chan) and sensuality (ahem, sex scenes) might make the
grade. Since the sequel is already in the works, maybe they will
make the change to R...but, with the money-friendly PG-13 being a
factor, probably not.
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