Revealing mistake: Xander has a XXX tattoo on the back of his neck. There are several scenes where you get a clear shot of the back of the stunt double's neck and there's no tattoo at all. Most noticeably in the scenes during the attack on the cocaine farm. (00:23:05)
For me, "XXX" is one of those guilty-pleasure movies that you know is preposterous... but you can't help but enjoy every silly second of it. I always got a kick out of it, and if it's on TV, chances are I'll watch it.
Admittedly, it doesn't hurt that I was the optimal age for this sort-of film when it first came out. I was a 14-year-old dope who lived off cheesy action-movies, "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" video-games and reruns of "Jackass." I was pretty much the perfect target audience and ate this film right up. So no matter what, it's always gonna be a little nostalgic for me.
Vin Diesel stars as Xander Cage or "XXX," an adrenaline junkie who is drafted into becoming a new breed of secret agent by the government. His mission? To stop a rouge terrorist group known as "Anarchy 99" from unleashing a deadly chemical weapon. And he must use his unique set of "skills" to stop them.
At its best moments, the movie is still quite entertaining, and delivers a slew of gleefully ridiculous action scenes. A sequence where Xander must escape from a drug cartel's plantation during a siege comes to mind as a highlight. As does a wonderfully silly scene where Xander triggers an avalanche that he must out-race on a snowboard. This is a movie that exists purely to deliver a series of increasingly over-the-top action set-pieces and in that respect, it works quite well. I also can't help but enjoy the majority of the cast. Vin Diesel will never be a great actor, but he's infinitely likable. Asia Argento is quite appealing as Xander's version of the iconic "Bond Girl." And of course there's good old Samuel L. Jackson, who's never anything less fantastic.
Where the movie falls apart... is pretty much everything else. The movie is essentially a string of cheesy cliches. When a movie starts with a character stealing a computer-chip with vital information (which had been a played-out cliche for years before this movie was released), you know what you're in for plot-wise. It pretty much a perfect example of hack-writing. I also can't help but notice that the movie feels incredibly dated. This feels like a product of its time thanks to all the "extreme sports" references, musical choices, and even the general style. And I could see it being hard for modern audiences to connect with it - especially younger viewers who may not have been around when it first came out.
But like I said, this is a movie about dumb action scenes being performed by a likable lead. And in that respect, it kinda, sorta works.
As it stands, the movie is at best a 2 out of 5 when it comes to the quality of the writing, direction, etc. But in terms of pure entertainment value, it's an easy 4 out of 5. So I'm putting them together and giving it an averaged out score of 3. If you like your action movies with extra cheese (and maybe a little early-2000's nostalgia), it's still worth seeing.
Xander Cage: I've been risking my life for a lot of stupid reasons. This is the first one that makes sense to me.
Trivia: When Cage goes to the party after his Corvette stunt, he starts talking to a girl with bleach blond hair and two tiger paw tattoos on her chest. This is an appearance by Eve, the famous rapper.
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