xXx 2: The Next Level Review

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by AVForums Aug 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    xXx 2: The Next Level Review
    xXx The Next Level (aka State of the Union) opens with an attack on the NSA building where Augustus Gibbons (Jackson - terrible character name) escapes along with the nerdy Q-type character from the original movie. They decide they need to push the envelope in terms of recruiting the new xXx and where better to find it that in the shape of Darius Stone (Ice Cube), an ex-Navy Seal, who is spending time behind bars. Gibbons and Stone have a history together, which is slowly mentioned throughout the movie, although it's not particularly deep, meaningful or ultimately relevant. The hunt is therefore on for xXx to learn why the NSA was targeted and by whom, which slowly builds to a more grandiose plot involving the assassination of the President and the other heads of state during the “State of the Union” address (hence the US title). Is this the work of terrorists or is it more akin to a military coup? Why does Willem Dafoe's character look like the bad guy immediately when we see him? How much change did they get from £10 for this script?

    Ok my last comment is arguably unfair, but to be honest we've seen this SO many times before it's untrue. In fact all we need is for our hero's wife and family get killed within 10 minutes and this would be your run-of-the-mill (or slit-my-wrists) Seagal, Stallone or whomever no brain required action movie. The plot is thinner than clothing from Victoria's Secrets, as not only is it signposted, then just in case you didn't see the sign marked “Flimsy Plot”, they spell it out for you yet again. Now, I know there's a lot of people that like dumb action movies, hell, I'll admit I didn't mind the first xXx (although I'm sure Asia Argento has a lot to do with that), but oh dear this is so formulaic, safe and by the numbers, not to mention uninspiring, I'd be surprised if many people disagreed with me. On one hand you can understand why Vin Diesel would want to be killed off from this franchise, on the other side this probably isn't the movie script he received and that's because of Mr. Cube. We all know that Ice is an angry African-American, I mean, he was part of N.W.A and as such he snarls his way through this movie as though he was straight out of Compton with a huge F... the Police attitude prevalent in every single scene. In fact, his acting is so one-dimensional maybe he thought this was for a really long remix of one of his songs.

    Now the reason I mention the script and Ice Cube is for the rather apparent “blackness” of this movie throughout. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way whatsoever - it's almost like blaxploitation is reinventing itself from the heavy Hip-Hop soundtrack, to having a token white person or two in the movie and don't even get me started on the whole “Tank Jacking” scene. On one hand, is this black culture having a laugh with the stereotypical image portrayed en masse by the media, or is it a cruel joke made by the screenwriter where issues of race are displayed in terrible and poor taste jokes? Hmmm either way I'm not convinced that either possibility is a good thing. As much as I don't wish this review to sound political as such, I honestly found such scenes incredibly demeaning as it only appeared to fuel these preconceptions of stereotypical, media biased images of African-Americans. Surely we're above this?Other “high” point in this movie are Willem Dafoe, not so much phoning in a performance, more faxing it in internationally - maybe this was his penance for being the Green Goblin? Sunny Mabrey (who?) plays the femme fatale villainess and clearly can't act, but has a nice way of filling a dress, although the costume designer obviously thought “Maybe we should show more cleavage to hide your acting ability (or lack of)”. In fact if you remove the script, poor acting, terrible CGI effects (particularly the last scene), you notice one other slight problem - the violence. Or I should say, lack of. Everything truly violent and deplorable is missing, or rather I should say that the camera changes angle so to lessen any form of impact. An example of this, towards the end one of the villains shoots a non-relevant character in the head. As he pulls the trigger, the angle changes and we see nothing at all and no blood anywhere later (continuity? Hello?) Now while I'm not advocating we should see grey matter splatter everywhere, I am saying that for this kind of movie that it pulls its punches - indeed the only real violence we do see is perpetrated by our hero and that's hardly making us hate the villains, in my opinion.Anyway - this isn't a good movie, it has B-movie stamped all over it, with poor acting, script, dialogue, effects, hell just name everything you can think of. The worse part - xXx 3 is being dangled at the end of this, with the hint of a new agent. Please - don't do it.

    The Rundown


    4
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
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