Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
xXx (2002)
12

The hype surrounding "xXx" trumpets Vin Diesel's tattooed, Herculean daredevil as "A new breed of secret agent" - screw that stuffy old Brit James Bond, here's a sparky new spy franchise for Generation Xbox.

So what is this radical, fresh, formula for action and espionage thrills? Well, a lone operative must infiltrate a criminal organisation, where he's caught by the OTT bad guy (who reveals his world-threatening plan); there's some enigmatic totty for our hero to charm; very little narrative logic; some wildly implausible stunts; and some mildly amusing pay-off lines.

And the makers call it "new"? Ian Fleming's estate should be after royalties.

Hell, Xander Cage (Diesel) has even inherited the Brosnan Bond's irritating habit of being puritanical about smoking (apparently it could kill you, kids).

Still, the 007 formula has endured for 40 years for a reason: it's fun.

Dumb fun, sure - and in the hands of "Airheads" writer Rich Wilkes, this is dumber than usual - but fun nonetheless.

So, if you're either a) a 13-year-old boy; or b) prepared to give your brain a rest, "xXx" is enjoyable popcorn entertainment.

Plus, as the extreme-sports rebel turned spy, Diesel is an eye-magnet.

The "Fast and the Furious" star has been touted as a new Arnie, but as he struts, brawls and bawls his way through Marton Csokas' gang of pesky anarchists, he's more reminiscent of Steve McQueen. Not the build, obviously, but the presence.

Like McQueen, Diesel's a limited actor but a great performer - he just exudes cool. It's his charisma - coupled with the raw sex appeal of Asia Argento's X girl - that makes Rob Cohen's movie tick.

Unusually, here the words don't matter (which is just as well) - it's all about the star. Without Diesel, no one would give a XXXX about "xXx".

End Credits

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Rich Wilkes

Stars: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Roof

Genre: Action

Length: 124 minutes

Cinema: 18 October 2002

Country: USA

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