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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal)

photo caption:
FIGURING OUT HOW TO SAVE AMERICA: Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson, left) and Darius (Ice Cube) work together to develop a strategy to foil the renegade agents who are trying to overthrow the President of the United States.end caption.

xXx: State of the Union: Ice Cube Replaces Diesel in Disappointing Sequel

Review by Kam Williams

Three years ago it looked like Vin Diesel had his own James Bond style franchise in the making when he was introduced as Xander Cage, a.k.a. xXx. This triple-threat secret agent chased down diabolical villains while performing an eye-popping array of superhuman feats.

Despite raking in millions at the box office, the film's producers decided to go in a different direction with xXx: State of the Union.

The only two actors to return for the sequel are Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Roof, who reprise their roles as Agents Gibbons and Shavers, respectively. Diesel was replaced by Ice Cube, whose one-note, tough-guy act quickly wears thin.

The crew behind the camera has also been changed, starting with scriptwriter Simon Kinberg, who makes an underwhelming screenplay debut. The replacement director is Lee Tamahori, whose previous production, Die Another Day, was the 007 movie that opened against the original xXx in 2002.

Why this movie is even referred to as xXx 2 is puzzling to this critic, because it fails to resemble the first in feel, tone, dialogue, cinematography, or special effects. Tamahori chose to abandon all the spectacular stunt work which had made the original so successful. Visually-captivating cinematography has been replaced by a parade of tortoise-like military hardware and custom cars fresh from a chop shop.

The story opens with Gibbons and Shavers barely escaping a bloody ambush at National Security Agency headquarters. They somehow immediately sense that this is an inside job and is the work of Agency renegades bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

They recruit Darius Stone (Cube), a former colleague, who was unfairly jailed for striking a corrupt superior officer (Willem Dafoe) who has since become Secretary of Defense. Patriotic Darius proceeds to break out of prison, not to vindicate himself, but to save the life of the President. He returns to the 'hood where he acquires a posse, guns, ammunition, and autos with the assistance of his ex-girlfriend (Nona Gaye).

After about two hours of nonsense, a climactic battle unfolds between the heroes and one of the most formidable, treasonous, conspiracies ever to unfold in America is revealed. However, the only thing more boring than watching out-of-date army vehicles lumbering aimlessly around Washington, D.C., waiting to be blown-up or taken over by the Bloods and the Crips, is hearing Ice Cube utter lines like, "Tonight, the safety of the Free World is in the hands of a bunch of hustlers and thieves!"

The State of the Union? xXxcruciating!

Poor (0 stars). Rating: PG-13 for profanity and intense violence. Running time: 101 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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