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XXX (2002) artwork

XXX (2002)

28th December 2002

No, its not a porn film but an adrenalin filled James Bond style action film for the new computer console fuelled generation.
Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Roof, Richy Müller, Werner Dãhn, Petr Jakl, Jan Pavel Filipensky, Thomas Ian Griffith
Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
1
2 Hours 4 Minutes

Xander Cage is an extreme adrenaline junkie who performs an ever increasing number of stunts that border on the illegal and considers himself above the law. Together with his arrogant attitude and thrill seeking activities he is just what the US government, and NSA in particular, are looking for in a new breed of secret agent.

Xander is, for a better word of it, kidnapped and threatened with prison by the NSA unless he helps them out. It all begins with a number of tasks. The first one is rather simple. After being darted by a tranquilliser gun he awakes in a roadside diner. Upon making a number of observations of its clients he suspects something is not right and launches into action, embarrassing a number of planted NSA agents in the process.

With that test easily passed he is again tranquillised and awakes to find himself in the back of a plane ready for an airdrop into South American drug country. This time the test is going to be harder as the army has just arrived on the scene to wipe out the drug processing plant. Again, he passes the test by managing to evade both the drug barons and the army with some mind boggling motorbike stunts.

With the NSA tests passed he is begrudgingly enrolled in the NSA and sent to Prague. He's there to investigate Yordi, an ex-Russian army soldier, who has been spending huge amounts of money on employing Russian biological weaponry scientists. Xander's first mission is a simple one. He will need to work with the local police force and gather information on Yordi and his criminal organisation. Fortunately, his reputation as an extreme thrill seeker is well known within the gang and he's soon drinking at Yordi's table. Is this mission going to be as easy as it looks?

The picture is bright and colourful with a high level of detail and from the moment the film starts you know that you're in for some impressive picture reproduction. The wide varieties of colours and dark and gloomy locations are handled with ease together with an impressively high bit-rate. There's no signs of any artifacting or outlining and the print is free from dust scratches and other picture imperfections.

The sound is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from an action film of this genre. It's raw and brash with some excellent surround effects and plenty of bass and rumbling LFE's to entertain the neighbours. The dialogue is crisp and clear in the centre channel and, to be brutally honest, it needs to be as Vin Diesel's gravely voice can be quite hard to pick out during an action packed melee. The thrash metal soundtrack is also loud and impressive without being too over the top. A good all round performance indeed.

The menu is pleasantly animated with a number of cut scenes playing in the menu background along with a musical score. Apart from the "Xander Zone" menu the rest of the submenus are static and silent. The extras themselves are decent enough with a director's commentary, a number of behind the scenes making of featurettes and a number of other interesting featurettes on the films creation. It also includes the usual theatrical trailer plus some other rather disappointing looking films the distributors are keen to promote.

Well, what can I say about xXx? For a start it is certainly better than the similarly timed Bond release Die Another Day. The film desperately tries to avoid the accusations of copying the Bond formula, but there's no doubt that this is a shameless Bond rip-off. All Vin Diesel needed to do was to don a tuxedo, order a vodka martini and take orders from an irate MI6 woman in London and he'd be there (oh, and perhaps lose a tattoo or two).

The parallels have to stop somewhere and it quickly grinds to a halt in the acting department. It can be quite awful at times and you could almost be back at school watching their latest Christmas production. Vin Diesel definitely needs to work on his acting skills as he even manages to make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Shakespeare material! However, he does have some potential so let's hope there's an improvement in time for the sequel.

Never the less, xXx is what Die Another Die should have been. A friend of mine called xXx "Extreme Bond" and it would be hard to disagree with the observation. Plenty of action, explosions galore and secret agent gadgets which are feasible and don't involve a stupid invisible car! The stunts are brilliant and are most definitely aimed at the console conscious generation. Although there is some assistance from CGI it is subtle and not as obvious of some of the latest action flicks. In fact, it could have come straight from one of the latest all action video games.

If you like your action films fast and hectic then you'll definitely be wanting to consider this title. America finally has a secret agent hero of its own, and he's called Triple X. Mr. Bond should start looking over his shoulder as a new pretender is in town.

  • Director's Commentary
  • A Filmmaker's Diary Documentary
  • "Diesel Powered" Featurette
  • "Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx" Featurette
  • "The GTO is Back" Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary
  • Designing The World of xXx Featurette
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Multi-Angle Deconstructions
  • Visual Effects "How To's"
  • Music Video: Gavin Rossdale "Adrenaline"
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • DVD-ROM: Screenplay, Agent Shavers' GTO Manual and Weblinks
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