THE AGING SORTA SKATER ACTION MOVIE GEEK REVIEW
Sure, the trailers make it look like yet another pathetic James Bond remix, but one thing pulled me off the couch and down to the mall to watch this movie - Vin Diesel. As I've said before, Vin is the new Arnie, and for those of us who miss stupid action movies with hulking musclemen tossing badguys off bridges with corny taglines, Vin Diesel is The Man. Who else do we have? Ever since T2, the Terminator himself has turned out nothing but clunkers. Stallone seems to think that he's qualified to make serious movies. And James Bond is still James Bond, but Bond movies only come out once every four years. We need Diesel. We need guys who don't mind kicking ass in utterly stupid movies every year or so, as long as they can do it with style. And Vinnie's got style. He's got all kinds of style.
"xXx" is, as predicted, a stupid movie. I knew that all along. What I was hoping for was something stupidly cool, and not just stupid. This was. "xXx" is a great Arnie movie. Is it the new James Bond, as it sort of wants to be? Dude, you gotta take it easy with that crack. There will never be a new James Bond. James Bond is forever. As long as they can maintain a ratio of two out of every three Bond movies being cool, Bond has nothing to worry about. But anyway, "xXx" was pretty cool.
But it could have been cooler. It was good, but it sort of lacked that special something - you know, that great "third nipple" effect. The bad guys were bad enough, the stunts were hyper cool, the photography was mostly beautiful, the sets would not have seemed out of place in a 007 flick, and in a welcome change from the almost endless stream of hyperkinetic Matrix wannabes, even the editing was nice and smooth. Some of the shots actually lasted more than two seconds. Yes, this is important, especially in a movie that wants to imitate 007, the king of action movie style. Nobody - not Arnie, not Jet Li, not BRUCE Lee Himself - looks cool with that hyper editing. Dude, did Bruce speed up the film and then do some fucking time-lapse shit so his kicks would be faster? No, man, he S L O W E D it down. So you could see the kicks.
So anyway, yes, it was all pretty good. But it could have been better.
Xander Cage (Diesel) is some sort of superanarchist and extreme sports god. When we first meet him, he is stealing some right-wing Senator's sportscar, so he can drive it off an extremely tall bridge, jumping out halfway down and parachuting down after it. The exploit, along with an extended introduction to the Senator's career in censorship, is then Webcast from Xander's lady friend's underground site. Then X has a huge party for all his fans. Basically, this is a guy who hates rules. My kinda guy.
So why does he turn around so quickly when Samuel Jackson, here representing the ultimate "Do it for your country" Tom Clancy spy, asks him to become a secret agent? I mean, sure, they argue a little. And later on, Vinnie has this one line, "Griffin, if you're going to send somebody to save the world, make sure they like it the way it is." But that's it. Right after that little outburst, he goes back to being Secret Agent Man again. WTF, man? There could have been a great conflict going on between these guys. At the very least, Vinnie could have somehow cleverly subverted part of Sammie's plans towards the end - maybe smuggled the girl into the US or exposed some black ops or something. What happened to anarchy? Oh, yeah, that's right. Hollywood isn't allowed to show true anarchists as heroes. For a minute there, I thought this movie had integrity.
But never mind. I know you guys don't give a shit about my political views. You want to hear about the stunts, right? Well, yeah, it's true. The stunts totally kick ass. We've got some gunfights, some weird chases including several with bikes, the obligatory Matrix bullet-dodging scene with a missile instead of a bullet, and three or four totally fucking over the top drop-dead fucking beautiful 007-style set pieces. A couple of the bike stunts are physically impossible and only a stoned monkey would call them convincingly done, but most of the others more than make up for it. Especially the set pieces. In one of these, you've got xXx on a snowboard, outrunning an avalanche. That's right. I can't tell you how hard this rocks.
I rate "xXx" like this:
- STUNTS, GENERAL - 9 out of 10 on the Arnie Scale.
- STUNTS, MOTORCYCLE - 1 out of 5 on the Mad Max Scale.
- STUNTS, GUNFIGHT - 8/10 on the Recalibrated Die Hard Scale.
- STUNTS, BLATANT JAMES BOND SET PIECE RIPOFFS - 10. Has two of the all-time best.
- PYROTECHNICS - ISO 9047-Alpha Compliant.
- WARDROBE - 9 out of 10 on the Matrix Scale.
- BABES - Hell yes - even one hooker who has nothing to do with any other element of the story. When was the last time Hollywood gave us gratuitous hookers?
- SAMUEL JACKSON FACTOR - 7. Better than Shaft, but not even close to Pulp Fiction.
- VIN FACTOR - 8. Strangely restrained, probably because of capitalist sellout Hollywood directors who wouldn't know an anarchist from a dadaist fucking clown. Um, yeah. Anyway, he's still Vinnie.
THE REVIEW FOR SERIOUS FILM LOVERS
Comparing "Vanilla Sky" to "Abre los Ojos" is almost like comparing - no, wait, we're doing that one tomorrow. Or not at all. Fuck off, serious film lovers. The rest of you, go check out Vinnie in his latest. The tattoos are killer, and for a change, the music is almost seriously hard. Dude, the opening song is Rammstein's "Feuer Frei". What more do you want?
AHEM. I can't believe I have to point this out, but the above review was written "in character", as a writing experiment. Notice where it says "The Aging Sorta Skater Action Movie Geek Review"? That's the character. I had the idea of writing a whole series of film reviews in different voices. I was actually going to do "Abre los Ojos", which is one of the better movies I've seen in the last few years, as one of the other reviews. Unfortunately, I never got around to continuing the series, and "xXx" is the only one I did. Little did I realise that a few years down the road, my review would be taken at face value, and the line "fuck off, serious film lovers" would be quoted in a writeup about seriously stupid movie reviews. Mea culpa, guys. This wasn't meant seriously. "xXx" really is a fair good brainless action movie, but please don't go thinking that the Aging Sorta Skater Action Movie Geek is me. He is the Dark Side of Internet movie reviews, the Amazon.com Top 100 reviewer who knows nothing at all about film. I would hate to think that was anything like me. That is all.