XXX: State of the Union
1.5/5UK title: XXX2 The Next Level
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Lee Tamahori
scr Simon Kinberg
with Ice Cube, Samuel L Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Michael Roof, Peter Strauss, Nona Gaye, Xzibit, Sunny Mabrey, Ned Schmidtke, Masuimi Max, Ramon De Ocampo
release US/UK 29.Apr.05
05/US Columbia 1h41

Let's blow something up: Jackson and Cube

cube jackson dafoe

XXX (2002) XXX 3 (2017)

XXX: State of the Union OK you don't expect a sequel to 2002's brainless XXX to be an action masterwork, but this is so preposterous that it feels like an overblown spoof of the original. Basically it's Charlie's Angels with testosterone. Bring Drew, Cameron and Lucy along and maybe it'd be watchable.

The original Agent XXX is dead, so his boss Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) springs an old colleague (Cube) from prison and installs him as the new XXX, a kind of renegade American James Bond with licence to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The current threat originates in the White House, where the right-wing Secretary of Defence (Dafoe) is plotting to oust the centrist President (Strauss) and take over. Enter Gibbons and crew, teaming with another agent (Speedman) and a few criminals (Gaye, Xzibit, et al) to save the world.

Excessively violent, extremely noisy and exceedingly fiery (virtually everything explodes), this exhausting film exists only to exploit action movie cliches. The story is ludicrous; there's little sense of character. Tamahori exhibits some of the exuberant skill he brought to Die Another Day; the film rockets along with an exaggerated energy that's actually quite hilarious. But it's so over-the-top that it's even more numbing than the first film. And with the high noise factor it's often excruciating.

Ice Cube manages to hold things together with sheer attitude; Jackson is clearly enjoying every minute; and Dafoe is in his villainous Spider-man mode, chomping on scenery with glee. But everyone seems aware that this is a deeply corny, illogical mess. The dialog is full of jingoistic nonsense ("We're gonna have to go further off the grid and outside the box!"); the special effects are so cartoonish that they're not remotely exciting, and they're not coherent enough to be funny. There's lots of cool stuff here for the boys--cars, guns, bombs, outfits, gadgets, big-bosomed babes. And the solution to every problem is to flamboyantly blow something up. In this film, America is a land of violence, injustice and madmen. It's just laughably bad. You might even say it's execrable.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 14.Apr.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... XXX: State of the Union brad, missouri: 5/5 "I thought it was awsome. There was alot of action and some sweet cars. I think it helped make it better having ice cube, xzibit and samuel jackson because they were funny and tricky." (30.Apr.05)

Matt Adcock, Hitchin, UK: 1.5/5 "When the world needs saving from megalomaniacs, warmongers or dastardly political enemies, there's only one super spy who can save the day ñ unfortunately James Bond isn't available at the moment, so here's an American alternative, special agent XXX, low on sophistication, high on stupidity and packing a serious number of weapons. XXX2 is the chubbier, less likeable and even more retarded follow up to 2002's all-action XXX. You might not like Vin Diesel, but at least he looked mean and tough enough to be a super agent. Cube looks like a confused and constipated Care Bear with an unconvincing snarl throughout. Along the way we witness him eating a lots of junk food, spouting lots of junk dialogue and blowing a lot of stuff up. When the highlight of a film is a tank battle which takes place on board an aircraft carrier you know that any visages of subtlety have long ago been reported AWOL. Samuel L Jackson is on hand to try and add some much-needed credibility but even he is forced to give up and look on in bemusement, along with the audience." (3.May.05)

© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall