xXx

 

Xander CageWhen I first saw previews for xXx, I expected a mindless action flick with cool stunts and no plot. More recently, however, it began to make headlines in the newspaper and news magazines. It was supposed to be the new Bond, for a new generation, with X-Games style stunts, not a charming Brit in a tuxedo. Sounds interesting. Well, as it turned out, my initial impression was the correct one.

Okay, to its credit, xXx, the latest from Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) does have a plot, albeit a dumb one. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is one badass living on the edge. He is famous among this supposed world community of new generation criminals, way too down and dirty for the likes of Bond to penetrate. The NSA is losing all its double-O-style agents–evidently trained to be major pretty boy/pussies–to one specific group they are trying to infiltrate. The only way to get in, according to Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), is to find somebody just as rough and tough as the bad guys, and X is just the badass to do it–we know this, because he has tatoos all over his upper body. His name is Xander, his friends call him X, and he has three X’s on his neck. This should indicate right now how thoughtful the movie is.

Cage himself isn’t that bad of a guy, I have to admit. He’s fairly intelligent and has his values straight. He doesn’t drink or smoke, except Sobe energy beverages, which pop up endlessly. He has to infiltrate a small group of ex-Russian secret agents lead by Yorgi (Marton Csokas) and soon finds himself involved with Yorgi’s ladyfriend Yelena (Asia Argento). They go to hip nightclubs and sit around in important rooms… being evil. Actually, about halfway through, we find out that they actually are quite evil, and it is eventually up to Cage to (surprise) save the world.

As mentioned above, this movie was touted as the anti-Bond. I guess compared to classic Bond, this viewpoint has some credibiltiy; however, with Pierce Brosnan doing motorcycle stunts on the rooves of buildings, xXx isn’t really shockingly original. Almost everything he does is just a more hip version of some Bond stunt. 007’s Aston Martin is replaced by hipper American cars, and rather than plain, pussy-style skydiving, X skydives on an airboard. Bond escaped snowmobiles on skis; X does it on a snowboard. Wow. To make matters worse, the spy gadgets are all really lame. They talk about tranquilizers like Dr. Evil talks about a “laser”, as if it’s some brand new concept. Furthermore, the dialogue is horrible; I kept feeling sorry for Samuel L. Jackson, to have to find some way to say the most stereotypical lines imaginable. And there was some motif of statues that was, to my best understanding, completely arbitrary. I read about Cohen describing his artistic inspiration: “I have a VAIO and love it, so X has a VAIO. I wanted X to like what I like.” I guess that’s all it takes to make a movie these days.