Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
Movies--#
Movies--A
Movies--B
Movies--C
Movies--D
Movies--E
Movies--F
Movies--G
Movies--H
Movies--I
Movies--J
Movies--K
Movies--L
Movies--M
Movies--N
Movies--O
Movies--P
Movies--Q
Movies--R
Movies--S
Movies--T
Movies--U
Movies--V
Movies--W
Movies--X
Movies--Y
Movies--Z
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup

 

"xXx"

Directed by Rob Cohen.
Written by Rich Wilkes.
Starring Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas and Samuel L. Jackson.
Release Year:  2002 

Review Date:  8/12/02 

Folks-- 

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 good:

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 “The 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 them all.

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 life.

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.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

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 "Office Space"). 

"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 half stars." 

"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 Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09