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Vin Blank

Nothing XXXceeds Like XXXcess

The Bald and the Beautiful: Vin Diesel (right) makes sure Asia Argento doesn't play with anybody else's gun in XXX.

By Joe MacLeod | Posted

Well, there's music by Rammstein, for starters. In our theater it was overwhelming, threatening to liquefy the areas of the brain that control higher thought processes. So from here on out, give a careful listen to "Feuer Frei" as recommended preparation for any new Vin Diesel picture, in this case XXX (pronounced "Triple Ex"), the latest from the very same Rob Cohen/Vin Diesel brain trust what brought ya The Fast and the Furious, back and all up in your face, this time with a bordering-on-parody crack at the secret-agent-man action flick, refined and realigned for today's attention-deficient PlayStation generation.

Usually (like at the beginning of one of those cheesy James Bond movies) you get the expensive animated credits to get things going, but the exxxtreme XXX filmmakers save their pixelpalooza computeriffic credits (featuring significant fetish objects from the film such as guns, cars, and girlies) for the end of the movie and muzzle-load this PG-13 motion picture ("violence, nonstop action sequences, sensuality, drug content, and language") with twin barrels of noise and action. Inside of 30 seconds somebody gets kicked in the head--pow!--while a whole Teutonic-metallo-goth Rammsteinian thing is going on in what later turns out to be the most ass-kickingest party-castle in the country of Prague. OK, the Czech Republic; you want a geography lesson, go read a book or something--we're tryin' to watch a movie here.

That's where erstwhile extreme sportsperson/political activist and presentwhile accidental secret agent Xander Cage (Diesel), known to his friends as "Triple X" (Cage, not Diesel), gets sent after getting caught up in a La Femme Nikita scenario for his urban-guerrilla crimes against The Man, which place him under the thumb of National Security Agency spy master and self-described "authority figure" Gibbons, portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, who's sporting a badly scarred movie-face that is not sufficient to distract attention from the ridiculous movie-wig he's got glued on his head. Guess you can't have more than one cool bald guy per movie, so big ups to Shaft Jr. for checking the ego at the box office and playing the ball-busting straight man to help move the story along.

Oh yeah, the story. It somehow involves sending a bullet-headed, heavily tattooed potential federal prisoner who makes all sorts of interesting wardrobe decisions (the bulky, woolly lapelled overcoat may spark this fall's unfortunate fashion trend) to covertly gather information vital to the security interests of the United States of America (and maybe even the Whole Planet, huh?), during which assignment he meets supercompetent supervillain Yorgi (a most excellent turn by Marton Csokas) for a moment of bonding over the punk-rock politics of the Vandals' "Anarchy Burger" and tries to hook up with the very, uh, European Yelena (Asia Argento) before riding the entire mess (the story) into the ground in a loud, flaming, mesmerizing ball of extreme automobile driving, extreme motorcycle riding, extreme skydiving, extreme snowboarding, extreme low-altitude drogue-chute deployment/aircraft exiting, and extreme serving-tray-from-a-fancy-Prague-restaurant skateboarding.

In other words, all the corny-ass bullshit stunts you've ever seen in any James Bond 007 spy movie, only with state-of-the-art production values and a regular-guy/cool-guy title character who won't have to start wearing a toupee when he gets older like Sean Connery did. And Rammstein. So XXX gets an "F" for letting the back half of its attempt to shake down the superspy-movie genre fall disappointingly right back into the boring and predictable, but Cohen and Diesel continue to Fail Upward, and the audience for flicks like this ain't exactly worried about getting good grades anyway. Just ask Austin Powers. Feuer Frei!

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