XXX: State of the Union

XXX: State of the Union

1.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 5 1.5

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Despite its title, XXX: State of the Union is neither pornographic nor political. And notwithstanding its protagonist’s moniker and the presence of Samuel L. Jackson’s NSA leader Augustus Gibbons, Lee Tamahori’s by-the-numbers sequel has virtually nothing to do with its predecessor. Driven into hiding after a covert military squadron ambushes his underground HQ, Gibbons recruits Darius Stone (Ice Cube), a prison inmate and former special ops comrade, to be the new XXX and uncover the culprit behind the deadly attack. Unlike Vin Diesel’s original XXX Xander Cage (who, we’re informed in passing, has unceremoniously died in Bora Bora), Stone is an L.A. thug-turned-commando more interested in jacking cars than extreme sports, and the less-portly-than-usual Cube—who, decked out in a black skullcap and matching hoodie, likes to quote Tupac and trade racial barbs with his xenophobic enemies (“Hillbilly!” “Homeboy!”)—plays him like an action movie version of Boyz n the Hood‘s Doughboy. While avoiding an F.B.I. agent (Scott Speedman) who wants to put him back behind bars, Stone uncovers a coup d’etat conspiracy being orchestrated by Willem Dafoe’s Secretary of Defense, who opposes the president’s (Peter Strauss) desire to cut military spending in favor of promoting a kinder, gentler foreign policy. Were the film really interested in peace over war, however, it wouldn’t so gleefully indulge in consequence-free guns-and-explosions mayhem that promotes violence as a cool, admirable course of action. Even lamer than its commentary on contemporary American diplomacy, however, is XXX: State of the Union‘s limp action, which—when coupled with the film’s second-rate Bond title sequence and attempt at gadget-heavy espionage (replete with Michael Roof’s wisecracking techie sidekick and Nona Gaye and Xzibit’s ride-pimping gearheads)—seems like leftovers from Tamahori’s Die Another Day. The only person capable of redeeming such dreck might have been Cube, whose one hilariously badass moment involves launching a motorboat onto a suspension bridge and into a cop car, thereby creating a photogenic inferno he can strut past with “watchoo-lookin-at?” NWA attitude. Yet saddled with a bland superhero whose primary purpose is to scowl and crack one-liners, the amusingly cantankerous star is powerless to redress the wobbly state of this franchise.

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Distributor
Columbia Pictures
Runtime
94 min
Rating
PG-13
Year
2005
Director
Lee Tamahori
Screenwriter
Simon Kinberg
Cast
Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Samuel L. Jackson, Scott Speedman, Xzibit, Nona Gaye, Peter Strauss, Michael Roof, John G. Connolly, Sunny Mabrey