xXx 2: The Next Level (2005)

AKA: xXx 2: The State Of The Union
Director: Lee Tamahori
Starring: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Peter Strauss.
Music: Marco Beltrami

After almost single handedly destroying the Bond franchise on Die Another Day, Lee Tamahori stuck his hooks into the xXx franchise.

This movie is bad. I try to be positive in my reviews, after all, ‘spy movies’ are a genre that I truly love, but this film has a B.S. quotient that has to be seen to be believed (maybe I have used the wrong words – I don’t recommend that you see it).

POOR SCRIPT or POOR DIRECTOR. Firstly, in the original xXx movie, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) worked for the NSA. In this film, the Division is called xXx. From the outset Gibbons states that Xander Cage, the original xXx (Vin Diesel) died in Bora Bora. Since that was where Xander was at the end of the first movie, and is dead by the start of the second, it is fair to presume that the rebranding of the NSA must have happened overnight (gee that was quick).

And we all know that xXx stood for Xander (and his love of X-treme sports) and was based on the tattoo on his neck. In an instant, that is all out the window with the rebranding of the organization, unless it is some kind of tribute (unlikely, he only saved the world once!). This is the contempt the film-makers show for continuity, and their audience and the story hasn’t even begun.

The movie starts with an assault on the xXx headquarters. Believability goes out the window, when the assailants use ACME holes, like the ones the Coyoté used in the Warner Brothers cartoons. Instantly underground, they kill everybody in the complex, except for Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) and Kyle Steele (Scott Speedman). Since their security has obviously been breached, Gibbons decides to recruit outside the system. Someone dangerous! A new xXx. Enter Darius Stone (Ice Cube). He is one bad motherf*cker who has been locked away in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Meanwhile Gen. George Octavius Deckert (Willem Dafoe) is cleaning house in the aftermath of the xXx headquarters massacre. Look, I am not even going to bother outlining any more of the plot. This film is one of the worst sequels made.

The only sign of creative thought that went into this action movie is when Stone launches a tank down the runway of an aircraft carrier. It doesn’t take off, but sure makes a mess of an opposing tank at the other end of the runway.

The special effects, especially during the climax on a bullet train are very poor CGI (even the bullet train CGI sequences in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible are superior – even though it was made nine years earlier. Toward the end of the first xXx movie, Vin Diesel says ‘Start thinking Playstation 2…’ Unfortunately, the film-makers have taken xXx’s quote literally and the movie looks like a stylised video game.

And the real sad part about this whole movie experience is that the film-makers think they have gotten away with presenting this lousy piece of shit to the public. They have the audacity to hint that there will be a xXx 3, with a new xXx. If this is an example of the standard, I don’t think the queue for the next film will be very long (I’m thinking straight to video!)

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