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XXX (2002)

xXx

A new breed of secret agent

Directed by:

Rob Cohen

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 115 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

With a nod in the direction of the extreme sports crowd and a title that sounds suspiciously like porn, this is ‘XXX’ – James Bond for the yoof market. The trouble is, Bond itself is a knackered, repetitive franchise that should have been put to bed years ago – not copied virtually to the letter in a new movie where the only notable change is to replace the suave 007 with a skin-headed man-gorilla.

In fairness to Vin Diesel, he produces one of his better performances here as Xander Cage, the underground snowboarding idol cajoled into helping the U.S government collar a group of Czech radicals. Much like Bond, his armoury comprises an array of top-secret gadgets, guilt-free promiscuity, and a lightning-quick line in tactless one-liners (best of all is when, after taking out a smoker with a heat-seeking missile, our hero quips: “I told him that cigarette would kill him one day.” Oh God, I laughed uncontrollably for about two hours after hearing that one. Honestly).

Among the more impressive elements of ‘XXX’ are the nicely put-together action sequences, most notably the avalanche scene. But don’t let Samuel L. Jackson’s presence as Xander’s boss fool you – this is a stupid film. At times I wasn’t sure if director Rob Cohen was being intentionally tongue-in-cheek, perhaps even wandering into spoof territory, or if I was just watching a genuine stinker. And Jackson’s a fine actor, but let’s face it – he’s not exactly choosy about the roles he takes. It often seems as if the guy would dress up as Barney the dinosaur if he was offered a good enough pay packet.

Fortunately, the whole thing is just about hectic enough that fans of run-of-the-mill actioners will get some enjoyment out of it. For everyone else, this offers little you can’t get from watching a Bond flick – assuming you’d even want to, that is.

It's Got: Subtitles when the Czech folks talk amongst themselves, ensuring we don’t miss out on gold-dust dialogue like “Catch him fast! Kill him slow!”

It Needs: Originality.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, three featurettes, visual effects info, deleted scenes, filmographies, trailers, and a Gavin Rossdale music vid. All in all, it’s a surprisingly decent package. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Any old Bond flick. Particularly that one with George Lazenby.

Summary

James Bond with a slap-head – shaven, not stirred. Get it? “Shaven”, not stirred? Eh? Oh, just forget it.

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