xXx 2: State of the Union

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence and some language.
Starring:Ice Cube, Xzibit, Willam Defoe
Directed By:Lee Tamahori

Final Grade:

No one in the world could have told me a year ago that Ice Cube was the new star of the secret agent series, xXx. After all, Vin Diesel gained the respect of every extreme sports fanatic in the world by playing Extreme secret agent, Xander Cage a few years back in the original xXx. So when I had heard news that rap artist turned actor Ice Cube was the star, it made me wonder how is that going to work. The answer was quite shocking. It worked well.

xXx2: State of the Union picks up where the original left off. Xander Cage is killed in action by an extremist group that is planning to take over the presidency with the help of Secretary of Defense, George Deckhart. In order to stop their evil plan, Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) must train and recruit a new xXx, a man by the name of Darius Stone. Despite Stone’s criminal record and unorthodox ways he is the perfect breed of secret agent to take on the government.

Ice Cube brought to this series what the film really needed. The first film lacked attitude. Every good action flick has attitude and while Diesel nicely played the “extreme sports poser” I remember I felt cheated as I left the film. The movie was bland, spiritless and left me with a sour taste in my mouth. That’s why I was surprised that I enjoyed this film so much. Ice Cube’s Character had this “bad ass” attitude that her purveyed with every look, every action and every phrase he spouted out. That “badass” turned hero thing worked surprisingly well. In a generation of pop stars and rap stars suddenly trying out their acting skills, Ice Cube leads the way in artists that are consistently impressive across the board. While he may not always be in the best movies (Take Torque for example) in my opinion he always delivers.

Joining Ice Cube is once again Samuel L. Jackson who once again really takes the back seat in the story line, yet still manages to fit in some “shining moments.” Also starring in the film is MTV’s Pimp my Ride star, Xzibit, as a chop shop owner who helps Ice Cube on his final mission. Xzibit, also known as to me as “the right guard cool spray guy,” gets to pal around on screen with Ice Cube for 20 minutes or so and helps keep the situation lighthearted and fun.

If xXx2 goes wrong in any way it is the special effects. I can disengage my brain and enjoy the cheesiest of action films, but a car chasing a bullet train on train tracks is a little too crazy for me. The special effects were poorly done, and the idea is so ridiculous that it just seemed to lose points in my book for coming up with something so incredibly stupid. I was also disappointed with the way they handled the death of the original xXx (Xander Cage) feeling that fans could suffice with 2 lines. One being a random computer geek coming in and saying “Sir Xander Cage is Dead.” and later on Sam Jackson saying “xXx is Dead. You’re the new xXx“ While I understand why they did it that way, I just felt cheated into buying into worst possible way of writing off a character.

All in all, if you disengage your brain for two hours of mindless entertainment, you will enjoy it. xXx2 isn’t perfect but it’s a nice way to kick off your summer blockbusters. It’s lighthearted, got a fun new cast, a fresh new superspy (for those who are sick of the James Bond films) and stuff goes ka-boom. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.

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