XXX: State of the Union

Bomb Rating: 

Director Lee Tamahori is that jackass who pissed all over the James Bond series with the atrocious and laughable "Die Another Day," so it wasn't like I expected anything from his follow-up to a movie that wasn't worthy of a sequel in the first place. About the only enjoyment I got from this movie was when somebody noted that Vin Diesel's character had been killed on some mission. (What a squandered opportunity to cut away and show a computer-generated Xander Cage wake boarding into a buoy or something.)

If I had been paying attention or bothered to bring my notebook and pen, I could easily list a litany of things from this film that make absolutely no sense at all. Basically, the new XXX is recruited by Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) to figure out why Gibbons's NSA office was attacked. The investigation leads Darius Stone (Ice Cube) out of prison and onto the trail of the Secretary of Defense, George Deckert (Willem Dafoe), a General who once commanded both Stone and Gibbons. Naturally, there are some bad feelings there. Stone also gets some help from another NSA agent, Felicity's boyfriend, Agent Kyle Steele (Scott Speedman).

This is sort of an aside, but it's a virtual guarantee that when a movie gives its characters ridiculous middle names for no apparent reason, the movie is going to be a pathetic mess. Gibbons's middle name is Augustus and Deckert's middle name is Octavius. Why the writers felt it was necessary to include that bit of information is questionable, other than to signal to the general public that they are desperate for attention.

Another thing that doesn't work in this film is the incredible speed at which Darius shows up at different locations with gear that probably costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Given that he's operating as a rogue agent and that Gibbons's resources would appear to be cut off, these costume changes seem rather far-fetched. Personally, I'd be a lot more impressed if the new XXX just ran around in a pair of cut-offs and somehow managed to save the world using nothing more than a set of common steak knives.

There are also a number of scenes where people on the outside of an event seem to know what's going on inside a place even though they have no communication or sight into that place. Darius and his crew blow a hole in the Capitol at precisely the right time so that the President (Peter Strauss) doesn't get shot. Director Tamahori, unable to create suspense any other way, just sort of plays along, and seems to believe that both events are coordinated.

In my favorite scene, Darius jumps off a speeding bullet train that's on a bridge, going around a curve at approximately 160 mph. The train is then hit with a missile, blows up, and the pieces fall into the water below. Somehow, Darius is underneath the train pieces as they fall, and the last bit of suspense involves Darius diving into the water below and swimming out of the way. I could do a little drawing with some vectors for you, but let's just say that the odds of the physics working out that way are less than the odds the Olson twins winning a hot dog eating contest against that freakish Asian kid.

Oh, and I completely forgot, I really loved the part where Darius, in a heavy armored vehicle, dodges rocket fire by turning his tank out of the way really quickly. And this is just the first of several missed shots aimed by ostensibly trained soldiers. One wonders how many more shots director Tamahori has to miss before he isn't allowed to ruin any more movies.

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