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"I'm sorry--what's my motivation?"
I was really looking forward to XXX. The trailer suggested that the movie would be loud, dumb and entertaining just like the last Rob Cohen-Vin Diesel collaboration, Fast and the Furious. Well, XXX was loud and dumb alright, but it was anything but entertaining.
XXX is an obvious homage to James Bond. It features Diesel as extreme sports star Xander Cage--a no-nonsense bad-ass who's tapped by government big wig Samuel L. Jackson to go on a mission. The assignment involves capturing a Russian bad guy with world domination on his mind. I think I got the plot right. But then plot really isn't an issue here, as I've again been subjected to another film that seems to have no shooting script. No, XXX is basically one crazy stunt after another and if you've seen the trailer, there's no reason to see the movie, because it offers no surprises.
Vin Diesel does have the potential to become a big action star. We've seen that in movies like Pitch Black and Fast and the Furious. He's also capable of depth, as showcased in the underrated Boiler Room. Here, Diesel looks tough but that's about it. The moments in which he attempts to demonstrate intelligence are laughable (watch that silly sequence in which Diesel knocks out a bunch of guys at a diner, and goes into a explanation right after). XXX is so relentlessly stupid and one-dimensional in it's approach, that I really had a hard time even enjoying it for what it is. I hate to sound like a killjoy. I mean I love a goofy action flick as much as the next guy. Movies like Commando and Rambo 2 will always be close to my heart. Unfortunately, XXX never rises to the occasion, it practically sinks off the screen.
Rob Cohen is inconsistent at best. Of all his pictures, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is clearly his best work. It was cohesive, dramatic and thrilling. And in Mr. Cohen's defense, I wouldn't call XXX his worst picture. That dubious honor goes to the dreadful The Skulls. He really blew a golden opportunity with his latest effort. Since Fast and the Furious was a huge hit, he had much more money at his disposal, and while some of the stunts are effective, Cohen is unable to make use of his best asset which is Diesel. James Cameron knew how to shoot Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though the famed action star was already well known, Cameron had the ability to make him seem even more mythic. Cohen has no such luck. Diesel has been much more effective in his other action efforts.
I really wanted to like XXX. The trailer suggested that the movie would be fun. Alas, the trailer was far more entertaining than the film itself. I don't know that I have much hope for Cohen's future film career, but I am looking forward to seeing what Diesel does down the road. This big truck is going places.
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