XXX: State of the Union (2005)
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Review Date: April 27, 2005
Director: Lee Tamahori
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Producers: Neil Moritz, Gillian Libbert, Arne Schmidt
Ice Cube as Darius
Sam Jackson as Gibbons
Willem Dafoe as Deckert
In this sequel to the 2002 hit starring Vin Diesel, the undercover governmental agency recruits a new agent called XXX, in the form of one Ice Cube. Cube blows up lots of shit, drives a lot of fast cars, talks to ladies with big boobs and blows up lots of shit (or did I mention that already?). A crappy title and lots of shit blowing up…ensues.
I don’t normally use this word in my reviews because I tend to let a lot of shit go in action movies, particularly those that are obviously meant for “entertainment” rather than “enlightenment”, but even with that in mind, I just couldn’t help but think preposterous (!) as I watched this film, mouth agape as one idiotic over-the-top sequence surpassed the last. Initially, I let go of the fact that the lead “action hero” in the film was chubby and apparently 100% up-to-date on all recent technologies, despite spending the last 9 years in a maximum security jail. Then, I began twitching in the eye when everyone in Washington was looking for him, and he somehow managed to get within inches of the Secretary of Defense (!) at a cocktail party, by slapping on a white tux (no other disguise, folks), balancing a tray of 3 champagne glasses in front of his face and holding his fingers over his eyes (this technique was used often by our man—apparently if you can’t see the enemy…they can’t see you). But I just couldn’t hold on any longer when Cube recruited a bunch of homeboys to help him versus a high-level team of military men, and with their music turned up loud and pimped-up cars (courtesy of the great Xzibit), actually managed to make things happen. But implausible and lame plot aside, the film’s biggest problem, in my point of view, was its lead star: Ice Cube.

I’m a fan of Cube, have always enjoyed him as a secondary player, or a third banana here and there, but leading a full-blown James Bond-ish action movie just isn’t for him. The man plays on two levels: angry and angrier. He’s also not the charismatic or humorous “type” and in a bogus film of this sort, you really need for the audience to connect to the lead guy on either one of those levels (his fight sequences were also shot in super-edit speed, so as per most PG-13 flicks…you can’t see shit!). That said, you can’t blame the lack of funny or cool one-liners on the man – that blame belongs to the screenwriter. The rest of the group was also pretty dry with his Q-like sidekick being as boring as they come, Scott Speedman checking in as the official “white guy” and Willem Dafoe sleepwalking through his role. Only Sam Jackson brought a touch of life into this dung-heap. As for the lovely ladies, well…granted, I’m a fan of big boobs, but the hooters on the so-called “romantic” chick in this film were ridiculous. Cleavage thy name is XXX: STATE OF THE UNION. And what was with the so-called “moment scenes” between her and Cube? Gimme a break. This is a goofy action movie, folks…remember what you’re making and drop that romance garbage elsewhere. But even though most of the film sucked, there were some fun elements in it, including its visceral opening sequence, a handful of loud and energetic action scenes (note that I didn’t say memorable), lots of cool-looking cars, plenty of tit-elage and lots and lots of explosions. Oh, the film’s soundtrack was also really, really loud…you like that?

Honestly, it felt like a movie mixed into a video game mixed into a soundtrack mixed into an urban test market report at times. The sad part is that I was one of the few “critics” in the world to have enjoyed the first movie, and I really like the concept of this series, but nobody involved with this film seemed to really give a rat’s butt about quality and seemed content to play marketing and “boom-boom” for the PG-13 crowds instead. Oh well…let’s see how they respond.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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