on September 4, 2005
It may be too early to make a final judgment, but overall I am optimistic when looking at the state of the movies in 2005. Others may talk of declining box office, but I see a rosier picture when it appears that the audience is becoming more discerning. Derivative action flicks like Stealth stumble out of the gate, and not long ago, the same happened with the sequel to XXX.
Subtitled "State of the Union," XXX 2 is merely an excuse to watch things blow up. There are the vestiges of a plot involving a coup attempt by the Secretary of Defense, but the story is merely an excuse to get from one silly incident to the next. What's the most inane scene in this movie: the ludicrous prison escape or the final battle sequence which involves the recruiting of a bunch of gang members who all apparently never do drugs and have a vague sense of patriotism? There are probably a dozen other choices.
The intent of the original movie was to showcase extreme sports in a James Bond parody, and it was quite successful. With Vin Diesel's replacement (a perpetually scowling Ice Cube) an ex-SEAL, we basically lose what made the first movie original. Instead, we get a clichéd action flick that has been done better dozens of times.
So maybe movie audiences are getting better at recognizing garbage when it comes out, and maybe that in turn will lead to better movies. Yeah, right.
on April 29, 2010
I don't get all the bad ratings, because I thought this was a great sequel. It has plenty of action, special effects, and comedy. Ice Cube breathes new life into the xXx series. When Xander Cage and many other spies are killed in action, Agent Augustus Gibbons needs a new xXx that's tougher and with more attitude. He hires an inmate who is a former US Navy SEAL named Darius Stone to travel to Washington D.C. and track down military men who try to overthrow the U.S. government and assassinate the President, led by a corrupt Secretary of Defense named George Deckert. Deckert plans on assassinating the President while he is making the State of the Union Address. While the new xXx and his team be able to stop him? I highly recommend XXX: STATE OF THE UNION!!!
on August 1, 2005
I was a real fan of the original tripple X. Finally, we had a spy, although unlikely, was a bit more believable than Bond. The plot, other than a comic book type crazed killer, was intruigeing, the tempo was beyond belief, the sound track was good, and the hero was a stand-up guy. I liked the concept of a protagonist that began as a self-centered thrill seeker who gradually turned into someone that saw true evil and decided it was up to himself to make things right.
I was anxious for a sequal, and upon the previews, wondered why Vin did not return. After seeing the film, I soon discovered why (he most likely vomited while reading the script).
The film started with a gripping plot. Gibbon's (Samuel Jackson) branch of the NSA is attacked by unknown high-tech assailents. Most of the branch (made up of Gibbon's military team)has or is in the process of being assasinated. Gibbons decides to go further out of the box, and recruit a member of his former SEAL team (Ice Cube), who is currently searving time in military prison (for insubordination and punching his commander, portrayed by William DeFoe). A prison break is exicuted, and Ice Cube becomes the new xXx.
From therein, the plot and Ice Cube's charactor becomes downright offensive. In a nutshell, William DeFoe's charactor is planning to unseat the president...why? Because the president is a Clintonista liberal who wants to understaaaaand our enemies, turning the other cheek to attacks and showering them with aid. The "evil" DeFoe, instead, wants to strengthen the military enough to be able to properly defend the country (this is evil?!? Apparently so, and why terrorist attacks seem to continue.) DeFoe's charactor believes the only way to do this is to enact a small coup on the capitol building. It's up to a bunch of unrepentant gang bangers/car theives to save America. Unlike the original, where there is charactor developement, it is absent in the sequal. Other than a side National Security head man, no one else seems to care why they are trying to rescue the president, just what's in it for themselves (especially the gang bangers; they are in it for the right to jack cars in D.C.). Oh, yes, did I mention ample gratuitous black on white racist cracks (especilly comapiring an NRA chairman to a Ku Klux Klansman)? I used to like Ice Cube (in movie roles), but after starring in this garbage, well, I have to throw him in the same bin as other Hollywood RDDB's (I'm very surprised someone the caliber of Samuel L. Jackson would appear in something like this unless he was bound by contact).
Well, guys, if you are going to make another xXx similar to this debacle, here's your plot: Right wing radio talk show hosts have invaded the capitol. Gibbons goes further out of the box and springs an ex-Al Quida member from Guantanimo Bay. Together with the help of the ACLU and GLAD, explosions and lawsuits fly and anyone to the right of the loony left is overcome by compassion. The president disolves all the armed forces, and every dictator in the world is so overcome by our understaaaaanding, that they all throw down their guns and step down from power, and the world is at one with peace. Hey, it's in line with the sub plot of this movie, and the way a certain group of writers in Hollywood seem to think. And they wonder why box office reciepts are down. Please excuse me while I snap in "Seargent York" so I can see what Hollywood was at one time and feel like an American again.
When you sit down to watch a movie like XXX: State of the Union, you know you won't be seeing CITIZEN KANE, or even DIE HARD. You expect fast, silly, explosive action. Not a lot of exposition, not a lot of rich characterization. And on that count, XXX II succeeds. Unfortunately, it is also a hamfisted bore.
There are plenty of explosions, guns-firing, & cars and boats doing ridiculous things. All well and good. Sounds like a James Bond movie (which, you may remember, the original XXX was supposed to be...a Bond for this generation. Ironically, the "old-school" Bond still does better.). But where Bond movies have some charm, some energy and some originality (the silliness factor in Bond movies is always overshadowed by the "how did they think of that" factor), XXX seems confused and needlessly loud. And one of the biggest stunts, involving a speedboat jumping onto a bridge of car traffic comes right from LIVE AND LET DIE...a Bond flick that's what, 30 YEARS OLD? Yes, this movie has a more throbbing sound mix, better crunching of innocent cars, but the basic idea for the stunt has a very tired feel...as does its execution.
The story, about how the Secretary of Defense is planning a coup in which he'll overthrow the compromise-with-terrorists-minded president wants to be thrilling and high-stakes. But not for one minute is the method for accomplishing this overthrow of government believable. An action movie of this ilk MUST make us suspend our disbelief. We never say to ourselves..."yeah, this could happen." But we should say, "I'm gonna enjoy this and see where it takes us." In XXX, the best I usually mustered was..."it's gotta get better, right?"
But plot concerns aside, the movie isn't even fun on an "actors having fun" level. Ice Cube, who can be somewhat charming in the right vehicle, plays a hardened con / former Navy SEAL, who gets a shot at redemption by becoming the new XXX. He looks bored in this first scene, and he looks bored in all subsequent scenes. He's supposed to look tough, world-weary, impervious...at least, I think that's the point. But bored is the best we get. He has some "romantic" scenes with an ex-girlfriend, and the amount of chemistry they generate makes Luke Wilson & Kate Hudson's scenes in ALEX & EMMA look like the hottest romance in film history.
Supporting "acting" is provided by Scott Speedman, looking ridiculous in a semi-heroic, semi-tightass role. Peter Strauss looks the part of president, but his part is underwritten, to say the least. Willem Dafoe is the evil secretary of state (he's evil because he wants to overthrow the government, yes...but the real message here from the filmmakers is that anyone who thinks that we should deal with terrorists by taking the battle to them is evil...real subtle!!). Dafoe is also not the least bit convincing. We all know this guy can play deranged, evil, threatening, whatever. He's often a great actor. But it seems to me that often when he takes these "paycheck" roles...where much isn't expected of him...he delivers NOT MUCH. He's a scary looking guy...but there ought to be more there. Samuel Jackson once again coasts through the kind of part he could do with his eyes closed. He cannot help but bring energy to a scene...he's the best thing in the movie...and that, more than anything else I can say kinda sums up the film. When Samuel Jackson, at his most bored, clichéd and predictable still steals the movie...you know you've got problems.
I can't really think of a reason to spend 2 hours of your time watching this film. It doesn't even deliver on the most basic level.
on December 11, 2006
If you're expecting some big, deep, meaningful morality tale in "XXX: State Of The Union", look elsewhere. This movie doesn't pretend to be a deep psychological political thriller, like the 1962 version of "The Manchurian Candidate" was; it's a fast-paced action flick, and it makes no bones about it.
Rapper/actor Ice Cube is Darius Stone, a Navy Seal who was wrongly imprisoned when he fought a order from his commanding officer to kill innocent people in Kosovo. Stone's former C.O. is now the Secretary Of Defense, and he's got some plans for the nation which aren't too pleasant.
Once again, we have Samuel L. Jackson reprisiing his role as NSA Senior Agent Gibbons, the man who enables Stone to escape from prison after a team of masked (and heavily armed) men stage a raid on Gibbons's NSA headquarters in which several agents are killed. This isn't gonna sit too well with Gibbons, so he wants to know what's going on; hence the need for Stone to do the investigating, and do a bit of butt-kicking along the way.
Needless to say ... a lot of action, including some pretty good stunt work, is packed into the space of 101 minutes, and director Lee Tamahori, who's no stranger to the action movie genre (he directed "Die Another Day" and "Along Came A Spider" -- two other films which fit the "popcorn action movie" genre), and he does a pretty good job of keeping the movie going, even though the plot itself has holes which are big enough to fly a fleet of Blackhawks through.
It's also good to see some familiar faces in this movie, including Willem Dafoe as the Secretary of Defense, Scott Speedman (who's definitely come a long way from his days on the TV series "Felicity") as the NSA agent who always seems to be at least one step behind Stone, and rapper Xzibit turns in a good performance as Zeke, the chop-shop owner who's recruited into the fight to save the nation.
While "XXX: State Of The Union" isn't the world's greatest movie, the DVD has enough goodies to keep you interested, and it's a good companion to the unrated director's cut version of "XXX".
All in all, if you want a movie that's perfect to munch popcorn by, "XXX: State Of The Union" is your kind of movie.
XXX: State of the Union (Lee Tamahori, 2005)
Whither, Lee Tamahori? Whither?
Tamahori continues the long and undistinguished tradition of fantastic directors from overseas (in his native New Zealand, Tamahori was responsible for Once Were Warriors, one of the country's most beloved and enduring film exports) coming to Hollywood and making absolute [...] What's worse, Tamahori, screenwriter Simon Kinberg, and (mostly) producers Neal Moritz and Arne Scmidt, have taken the most promising spy movie franchise since James Bond burst onto the scene and have spared no expense grinding it into the dust.
Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) needs to recruit a new XXX after the old one decided not to renew his contract (probably after reading this dog of a screenplay). He pulls the lieutenant from his old unit, Darius Stone (Ice Cube), out of prison to help him overthrow one of their old nemeses, the current Secretary of Defense (Willem Dafoe), who's planning something nefarious.
Compared to the franchise's first film, this one's a pale shadow. Lots of things blow up again, but that's really the only similarity between the two. The character development, the sense of pace, the attempts at getting the viewer to identify with anyone at all in the film, all gone. This is a movie for people who like to watch stuff blow up, and don't care about anything else. A horrible, horrible disappointment. *
on August 4, 2013
I thought this was a great sequel. It has plenty of action, special effects, and comedy. Ice Cube breathes new life into the xXx series.
Others may disagree, but I thought XXX: State of the Union was a great action movie; it had everything I want in this kind of thriller, and there's nothing more enjoyable than getting to the truth of a vast conspiracy - especially when the path is filled with as many explosions as the filmmakers can pack into 100 minutes. It's true that a lot of innocent civilians and a fair share of good guys are killed in the process, but this is just a movie -a wildly entertaining one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
on April 2, 2012
From the director of Die Another Day and the first XXX comes the sequel XXX State of the Union. The movie had more action than the first one did. Ice Cube played the new XXX who has to stop a threat on the U.S. Government itself. Samuel L. Jackson returns recruiting Ice Cube's character to help him to stop this new threat. There are plenty of surprises and twists in this movie the good guys aren't always good. Things are also not as they seem at first. Lots of explosion, running things down and also the first ever jacking of a tank. If wanting something with action, guns, things blowing up and want to see Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube and Scott Freedom then this movie is for you. Being Double crossed comes a lot in this movie it makes it better because you do not know who to trust. Special features are Filmmakers' Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Visual Effects Commentary Documentary "From Convict to Hero: The Making of `XXX: State of the Union'", Top Secret Military Warehouse XXX: According to Ice cube and Bullet Train Breakdown. XXX - State of the Union (Full Screen Edition)
OK, I admit I am not the target audience for a movie like this - so read this review with that in mind. I rented this in one of those "aw, what the heck" moments. I really like Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube, and Willem Dafoe and figured how bad could it really be.
Well, if you like non-stop hyperactive action that exceeds all bounds of reality and physics, then this is your cup of tea. However, I am not a tea drinker. It really was an ok way to turn off the brain for a couple of hours. There are a few plot twists and some action sequences that are pretty good. But when it gets to the CGI portions, it isn't so good. The super fast cars, trains, and low flying helicopters look like cartoons and the movie suffers from the break with the suspension of disbelief.
Still, the actors do well with what they are given and I enjoyed it in that kind of mind numbed way that the movie asks of us. Although without the performances delivered by the stars, this movie would sink like a rock in my rating system.
on January 6, 2006
If `XXX: State of the Union' is painfully bad, that is not because it has no coherent plot. Anyway you don't need it when you get good actions, interesting characters (hopefully with one-lines), and good supporting actors. The original `XXX' had all of them - extreme sports type actions with the hair-raising climax, super-macho Vin Diesel as likable hero Xander Cage, and beautiful and sexy Asia Argent.
So why did they make a sequel without them? No Diesel? No Asia? This must be a joke, and it turns out that way. Sam Jackson is back, yes, I admit, but his recent track record is not what it was when he was in `Pulp Fiction' and `Jackie Brown.' And the director is Lee Tanahori (no!) whose very inept direction in the latest 007 film is still a bad memory to me.
Probably you would think that you can write a better story after watching `XXX: State of the Union,' and probably you are right. Ice Cube is newly recruited from the prison by Samuel L. Jackson's Agent Gibbons, and Cube almost single-handedly prevents the sneering bad guy Willem Defoe from doing some terrible (but hardly credible) things in the most contrived way. When I say `single-handedly,' I do not exaggerate. Ice Cube jumps in the air from the wall, shoot rocket launchers, and chase the bullet train. Sometimes you can see him with sidekick Scott Speedman, and two `XXX' girls Nona Gaye and Sunny Mabrey, but basically Cube is the center of the film. Well, he is not bad.
What is really bad about the film is the over-the-top actions which overuse the special effects. As in `Die Another Day,' in which Tamahori did the same mistake, his excessive action set-pieces are always so big and loud that they often make it too obvious that the post-production work polished up the shots with fast-cut editing and CGIs. It is watching the screen of video games, where many explosions and car chases happen, but ultimately they are all tedious.
About eleven years ago, Tamahori impressed the world with his superb `Once Were Warriors.' Now he is doing `Along Came a Spider' `Die Another Day' and this one. But I'm not surprised seeing his recent career for this is a familiar story we all heard in Hollywood. And I'm not surprised either if someone is trying to make another `XXX' film. Next time, Rob Cohen please.