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XXX

Starring Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Martin Csokas and Samuel L. Jackson
Written by Rich Wilkes
Directed by Rob Cohen
website: www.sonypictures.com/movies/triplex

IN SHORT: A third-rate Bond clone, lacking anything resembling style, substance or sexiness. [Rated PG-13 for Violence, Non-Stop Action Sequences, Sensuality Drug Content and Language. 120 minutes]

Vin Diesel fans . . . don't even bother reading any further or writing to tell us that we're wrong. We're never wrong.

"There isn't really a lot we expect in a movie. A story that makes any kind of logical sense, even remotely logical, is usually good. A good guy who we feel like cheering for is good, though a tepid round of applause is OK if it's a film where the bad guy is supposed to be more heroic. Else, a bad guy who is so vicious that he gets a suitably gruesome ending involving bullets or explosions or flying body parts or any combination of the three." We wrote that about director Rob Cohen's last movie, The Fast and the Furious, which didn't have any of that stuff. XXX doesn't have any of that stuff either. What it does have are performances and dialog so awful that our audience was laughing at, and yelling back disses at the screen. So, how does crap like XXX get made?

We'll get to the inevitable irate e-mail from a teen Vin Diesel fan in a couple of paragraphs. Let us start with a visit to the inner sanctum of Hollywood movie making machinery, the pitch meeting. And it goes something like this . . .

     "OK we start by shooting a secret agent in a tuxedo in the back. It's got nothing to do with much of anything that follows but critics are always looking for something like a reasonable motivation, so that's that."
    "And then?"
     "Then we steal a corvette and drive it off a bridge. Couple of hundred feet in the air. Big stunt. Parachute on the back of the driver. Big stunt. Then Vin Diesel, he's our star, he saves the day at a diner hold up and then we shoot him with tranquilizer darts and drop him in the middle of some Colombian drug lord. Explosions. Lots of gunfire. More explosions. Diesel versus the Colombian Army and then we ship him to Prague Czechoslovakia!"
     "Why Prague?"
    "It's cheaper to shoot there than in Toronto. Weak American dollar. And nice scenery and cheap extras. OK, evil villain and some guy all tattooed and pierced and an OK looking chick who'll be the love interest once we blow a lot of stuff up and shoot the hell out of a bunch of old buildings"
     "And she is secretly..."
     "Of course she is secretly! She'll be so evil no one will ever see it coming!"
     "OK, and the story is . . .?"
     "Who the hell needs a story? We get to blow a lot of stuff up and shoot the hell out of a bunch of old buildings"

     "Works for me"

We'll drop the doozy of a true fact that it's an hour twenty into the run time of XXX until anything even close to a story is laid out on the table. We've been through a lot of stunts and car chases and half spoken sentences of dialog PLUS some nice scar-makeup on Samuel L. Jackson's face -- he's NSA Agent Gibbons, who hand picks to set up Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, renegade snow boarder and car thief, to bring down some evil doer based in Prague. Yelena (Asia Argento) is the average looking love interest who may or may not be involved with uber-evil-doer Yorgi (Martin Csokas) but you'll figure out the big surprise far in advance, since you'll have nothing to do other than watch a lot, as in really a lot, of lovingly crafted stunt sequences

And some fourteen year old Vin Diesel fanboy will write:

"Cranky, you stupid [expletive deleted]
How can you possibley think that XXX was "crap". It was the best movie I've ever seen. You wouildn't know a good movie if it kicked you in the nuts, sliced off your head and took a dump in the hole in your neck."

Yes, the e-mail actually looks like that, if not worse ... you should see what the femme fans of Mandy Moore wrote after we dissed A Walk To Remember.

There is perhaps five minutes of story in the two hours of movie which means we can't really blame anyone other than the studio execs who actually believed any actor or action filled movie can kick serious butt with only five minutes of story.

Then again, The Fast and the Furious made $144 millions for a $38 millions investment. Hollywood likes numbers like that. Hollywood believes lightning strikes twice, or that you can be taken to the bank twice or thrice. Whatever.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to XXX, he would have paid . . .

$2.00

XXX, at least, made us laugh, which The Fast and the Furious ($0) failed to do. Way to go, Rob Cohen! A big improvement!

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.