XXX


Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by:Rich Wilkes
Starring: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Roof
Released: September 12, 2002
Grade: C

There is good action and there is bad action.  Good action is usually believable, looks good, feels logical and is supported by a well developed story.  Bad action is usually unbelievable, looks awful, feels illogical and has no story whatsoever.  XXX is an example of bad action.

Xander Cage (Diesel) is known simply as X and loves extreme sports and exposure.  He’s introduced to us when he steals the lavish car of a politician and drives it off a bridge.  He escapes via parachute and the whole sequence has been captured on video camera by X’s team to show on web casts around the world.

One person paying very close attention to X is Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson).  A secret organisation known as Anarchy 99 has been arousing suspicions in Prague.  They are becoming very wealthy and powerful and under leader Yorgi (Csokas), are rumoured to be developing biological weapons to destroy governments around the world.

With agent after agent being killed, Gibbons decides to try a different approach.  Why not try using someone with a criminal background?  Their hardened persona may be able to penetrate Anarchy 99 and get them on the inside.  X is Gibbons man and he convinces him to go with the threat of serving time behind bars for his wild stunts.

In Prague, the plan works perfectly.  X gets all the information he needs and Gibbons rewards him with freedom and a ticket home.  But of course, he’s fallen in love with a member of Anarchy 99, Yelena (Argento) and doesn’t want to leave her behind.  So despite his cover soon becoming blown, X stays behind to finish the job, blow up a bunch of stuff, and win the heart of Yelena.

There are a lot of amazing action sequences in XXX but they are too big for their own good.  The editing team has failed to make it gel and look sequential.  The quickly edited scenes are fragmented and I wasn’t buying a single minute of it.  The part still freshest in my mind is the hopelessly stupid scene where X rides his snowboard down the mountain followed closely by an avalanche.  Special effects are top-notch but everything else is substandard.

Vin Diesel isn’t a newcomer to Hollywood but you’d think he was with the wave of hype and publicity that has followed his every move in the past three months.  Diesel featured prominently in Saving Private Ryan, Pitch Black and the underrated Boiler Room before realising his true calling was for action.  After the huge success of last year’s The Fast And The Furious, XXX capitalises on his “action star” status and also sees him set to appear in sequels of both films.  A busy man he will be.

Did I mention that director Rob Cohen made both XXX and The Fast And The Furious?  He also made Daylight and Dragonheart.  As Diesel is an action star, Cohen is an action director that obviously has the experience but seems to be taking on more than he can chew.  People enjoy seeing outrageous stunts but if you wanna make a movie, you’ve gotta have a worthwhile story.  So with that said, this film gets a big X from me.