Retro Review: XXX

Have you seen my career?

The pure-octane, testosterone, adrenaline rush action film returns to theatres. This time the new action entry has new high-profile phenom Vin Diesel attached. Are we ready to return to the action films of the past? Or have we gotten smarter and expect a little smarts with our explosions?

“XXX” re-unites Vin Diesel with his “Fast & the Furious” director Rob Cohen for this new evolution of the infamous spy-action film genre. In this action adventure, Diesel plays Xander Cage, an underground extreme-sports athlete who uses his abilities to make political statements through wild and illegal stunts. Cage gets noticed by NSA agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) and is absorbed into the agency that needs an expendable “bottom of the barrel” style agent. Cage’s mission is to infiltrate a gang of ex-KGB agents who are lead by the enigmatic Yorgi (Martin Csokas) and Yelena (Asia Argento).

From the opening scene of this film, “XXX” takes a stab at the James Bond films and never looks back. It’s pulsating and crippling punk-metal anthems accent elaborate unbelievable stunts that no man of this earth could complete without the aid of movie-magic. These stunts are like if the “X-Games” were played in the world of the “Matrix”. “XXX” barrels on as it tries to top each of its own stunts till the credits roll. The showcase stunt of the piece has to be that avalanche scene which deserves recognition just by itself. But for the most part the film is pure adrenaline junkie magic and not much else. So where is the substance?

You talkin to me?
You talkin' to me?

After being throttled and slammed into your seats by the stunts and thrill-rides you need a chance to breathe and rely on the continuing plot. After being bombarded and shocked with all these images and explosions, I found myself exhausted and bored. I felt that I needed a moment to real know why we are on this journey. Maybe I am getting old or just tired of explosions but I think we need more than just the rush to be entertained.

Weeeeeee!
Weeeeeeeeee!

It is hard to relate to Diesel even though he does ooze a Neanderthal-style charisma from every pulsating muscle. In every Diesel picture to date I found myself relating to the people around Diesel more than him. It was through his interactions with other characters that I got to understand him. In “XXX” you don’t have that luxury. Has it always been me or has it been hard to relate to “anti-heroes”? Also what is it about risking your life for the sake of an adrenaline kick? I don’t understand the attraction. I don’t need to live on the edge of mortality to praise it.

In Diesel and Cohen’s other adrenaline film, “Fast & the Furious”, I found that I could relate to the action because of the always evolving plot. In “XXX” I never found enough morsels of plot to really be  gripped. I guess the best way to describe the picture is “all flash and no substance”.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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