XXX: State of the Union


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"It's not as bad as it could've been, but not as good as it could've been."










XXX: State of the Union
The Masked Reviewer

It's happened.  The Masked Reviewer knew it might.  This is the sequel to the Vin Diesel vehicle, XXX.  When that came out, the big question was: what will the sequel be called? 

XXX 2? X2X2X2?  XXX2?  XXXI?  XXX II?  XXXX (aka Quadruple X)?  How about YYY? 

And, in fact, if you see it, you may be asking yourself "why why why"?

Vin Diesel isn't in the film.  It won't be giving too much away to say that he's killed off in one line of exposition near the start of the film.  They couldn't even get a cameo.  He survives all the action of the first film and is dismissed with "Xander Cage was killed."  Wow.  What a way to go.  Although...they didn't mention finding a body, so maybe he'll be back for the next XXX.  That might be called XXX 3.  Or XXXXX.  Or XXXII.  Or, perhaps most appropriately, ZZZ.

Ice Cube (no relation to Rubik Cube) takes the helm as the new, badder-assed XXX.  Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Augustus Gibbons (no relation to "Entertainment Tonight's" Leeza Gibbons).  The guy who played the tech guru is also back, whoever he was.  Added to the mix is Willem Dafoe...not to give anything away, of course, because that could be considered a spoiler, but...let's just say that if his real name was Willem Dafriend, it would be misleading.

The opening scene for XXX: State of the Union is probably the highlight of the movie.  They should've stopped there.  The film is filled with explosions, gunplay, high speed chases, and hand-to-hand combat.  The action is uneven -- the good stuff is at the start of the movie, and it gets progressively less interesting.  In fact, the last big hand-to-hand battle is the worst scene in the movie; it's a perfect example of why fast cuts and shaky camera movements aren't interesting or exciting.  You can't tell what's going on. 

Here's what the last fight scene is like.  Intercut an elbow, a pot, a foot, a close up of a fist, someone getting punched in the stomach, a lighter falling to the floor, a hand, an ostrich, etc.  Okay, maybe that wasn't an ostrich.  It's too hard to tell.  Imagine 500 quick cuts in a period of 10 seconds.  The only thing you'll be able to process is the lighter, which you know will be important later in the fight.  The fights at the beginning of the movie were better, and Ice Cube does a nice job with them.

The other action scenes get less and less exciting.  The Masked Reviewer isn't claiming to be any kind of expert or anything, but it seems like it might be better to make the movie more interesting as it goes on, rather than less interesting.  Perhaps the filmmakers decided that rather than build up and up and then end a movie with audiences wanting more, they'd shoot their proverbial load at the start, then make it worse and worse until audiences couldn't wait to leave the theater.  Maybe the logic is that they'd be ready to see another movie sooner, since it will be longer since they saw anything interesting on screen.  Who understands the mind of the movie executive?

The writing for this movie is horrible.  It's one of the more predictable movies you'll see this year (that's the Masked Reviewer's prediction, anyway).  Many people will be able to say the dialogue before the character's on screen's very hackneyed and overdone.  There aren't any new twists or original ideas in the film, either.  You'd be hard pressed to find anything in the movie that hasn't been done before elsewhere, and done better. 

There's a lot of emphasis on vehicles (and vehicles blowing up) in State of the Union.  Perhaps the filmmakers wanted to combine the best of XXX and The Fast and the Furious.  Either way, there wasn't much to get excited about.

Here's the biggest criticism of the film: it takes itself a little bit too seriously.  You could forgive all the shortcomings of the film and go in expecting a popcorn flick with explosions and corny action dialogue if the film would let you.  There's no shame in a stupid movie being a stupid movie.  XXX wasn't bad because it never pretended to be anything (how could it, with Vin Diesel in the lead?).  There are a few moments and a couple of scenes in XXX: State of the Union where you wonder whether the filmmakers thought they were making something that wasn't an empty, silly movie.  Those scenes fail miserably and drag the movie down.  Most notably, the love story between Ice Cube and Nona Gaye (who played Zee in the last two Matrix movies) is very out of place.  Social commentary doesn't work in the movie, either.  It's just goofy, but they don't have quite enough fun with it to let the audience know that they should sit back and turn off their brains for two hours.

There are a few unexplained plot holes, too.  XXX has to risk his life to get something, and the thing he gets has apparently no use whatsoever.  But hey, at least he's got something to do.

It's not a good movie, but it could've been worse.  It doesn't share much in common with the first XXX, aside from Samuel L. Jackson.  He has a couple of decent lines, but the part is as big as it was in the first film.  It's not as bad as it could've been, but not as good as it could've been. 


Expectation from the Title: The latest porno featuring the President and the First Lady getting nasty in the West Wing...the highlight is when the Congress stops by and joins in for some wild non-partisan hot caucus action.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Ice Cube has the country's best intentions at heart, and that's nice to see.

The Pros: Big explosions, a couple of good lines by Samuel L. Jackson.  Ice Cube is an improvement over Vin Diesel.

The Cons: The film gets less and less interesting, horrible writing, lame dialogue, nothing original.

Icecube, Exzibit, Wilhelm DaFoe, William Dafoe, Vin Deisel, triple x, quadruple x

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