XXX: State of the Union review, XXX: State of the Union DVD review

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Buy your copy from Amazon.com xXx: State of the Union (2005) starstarno starno starno star Starring: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Xzibit, Scott Speedman
Director: Lee Tamahori
Rating: PG-13
Category: Action/Adventure

ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.

“xXx: State of the Nation” is what would happen if someone fed the script from “Commando,” an episode of “Pimp My Ride,” and a book of Mad Libs into a word processor and hit ‘puree.’ For a franchise (a term used rather loosely here, since it is doubtful we will see a third installment) that supposedly prides itself on extreme, edge-of-your-seat action, the plot, dialogue, and most importantly, the action are positively quaint.

Ice Cube fills in for original xXx Vin Diesel (both Diesel and director Rob Cohen backed out of the movie early in production), playing Darius Stone, a former Navy SEAL who’s in the clink for leading a mutiny against General Deckert (Willem Dafoe), who’s now Secretary of Defense. Stone is sprung from prison by Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), Stone’s former superior and current deep cover special ops director. Stone becomes the new xXx (the original xXx, we are told, is dead, presumably at the hands of the screenwriter), and both are soon targeted by Deckert, who plans on taking over the Presidency by wiping out the chain of command that precedes him, and setting up those who dared to mutiny against him as the fall guys.

Think of a movie cliché, and it’s here. There’s the meeting of government agents analyzing Stone’s back story, which serves solely as exposition. There’s the White She-Devil (the admittedly smoking hot Sunny Mabrey) who tempts our hero but ultimately betrays him. There’s the slightly geeky and incredibly unhip hacker/inventor (Michael Roof). Lastly, there’s the Convenient Stunt Cast, where Stone’s buddy from his days in tha ‘hood makes a living tricking out cars (Xzibit, who makes a living tricking out cars). We won’t even discuss the final chase scene involving a super-charged car and a bullet train. It defies logic, physics and common sense.

It seems hard to believe that this brand of high-octane, low-IQ action fodder still has a place in the movie food chain. With all of the advancements movies have made in combining plot, effects and dazzling hand-to-hand combat, why on earth would anyone make a movie this antiquated? Wasn’t “The Matrix” supposed to do to “xXx” what Nirvana did to hair metal? This breed of action movies, it appears, are like cockroaches, U2 and Keith Richards. It will take an Apocalypse to wipe them out. Sigh.

DVD Features:
The widescreen DVD release of "State of the Union" packs a pretty big punch, with hours of special features that should entertain even if the film doesn't. Along with a full-length audio commentary with director Lee Tamahori, and a second commentary track with the visual effects team, the single-disc release includes three deleted scenes, four Bullet Train Breakdown Angles, and three production featurettes on everything from casting to the making of the film.

~David Medsker

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