New Movie Showcases Vin Diesel as Action Hero
- Wednesday, June 26, 2002
XXX - PG-13
Best for: Mature older teens to adults who enjoy a loud, action packed movie.
The plot: Xander (Vin Diesel - Fast and the Furious, Saving Private Ryan, Pitch Black) is a former extreme sports athlete known for his death-defying stunts that carry a social or political message. After pulling a stunt that destroys a politician's car, Xander is kidnapped by government agents, and he thinks it's retribution for his recent caper. But, after several confusing and dangerous situations where he barely escapes with his life, he realizes that his captors are really undercover agents who have kidnapped him and are forcing him to take part in a dangerous plan.
NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) forces Xander to join his team in combating a ruthless group of terrorists, led by Yorgi (Marton Csokas - Lord of the Rings), who occupy a castle in Prague and are bent on destroying the world through biological warfare. Other agents have tried to infiltrate but all have been killed or failed. Xander's unique skills, wit and levelheaded approach make him one of the most qualified agents to take on this kind of mission. But it's Xander's heart that falls for Yelena (Asia Argento) and decides not to run from danger, making him one of the last heroes who can save the world from destruction.
The good: Director Rob Cohen reunites with the star of his blockbuster hit, The Fast and the Furious, for one of the most extreme, action-packed espionage movies ever made! This thrill ride has extreme acts never seen on screen before! This is 007 for a younger generation, only this hero is called "X" Man, with a 21st century edge (they never do explain why there are 3 X's).
Aside from his unusual resemblance to a taller "Mini Me" on steroids, Diesel delivers a likeable rough and tough secret agent like no other seen before! Not only is he fun to watch, but he emits a sexiness that goes beyond the traditional definition of good looks. He's confident (and doesn't pay attention to the reactions of others), intelligent and he likes the underdog.
Like many Bond films this one has lots of action, but unlike most Bond films, almost every frame is filled with phenomenal extreme stunts (jumping over a barn with a motorcycle, driving a car off a bridge and parachuting out, racing an avalanche down a mountain on a snowboard, racing through a Eastern European town in a car loaded with rockets, skateboarding down a flight of stairs on a waiter's tray). And let's not forget the loud rock soundtrack blasting through each of the fast-paced scenes. The style of this movie will no doubt be compared to (and may ultimately influence) the way we view future Bond films, but these two spy guys are completely different. Similarities with the Bond franchise include Bond-style music during some of the chase scenes, a well-written script that plays off of clever double-meanings (like a sub carrying biological warfare named AHAB), memorable and more frequent stunts (my favorite is the avalanche) and Diesel's dry wit during brave moments.
It's Diesel who makes the difference. With his American street-smarts, fearless attitude, smooth-talking charm, heart for humanity, eye for pretty women and a take-no-prisoners attitude when the odds are stacked against him, he's Willis, Stallone and Schwarzenegger rolled into one.
The bad: Expect language, violence, some sensuality and non-stop action going into this movie. There are a few scenes of drug content (smoking colored liquid), drinking (mostly in bars) and lots of language.
Offensive language and behavior: Crude dialogue and obscenities, including the word "holy" before a word that means excrement. Lots of anti-authority comments, expressions and slogans between Xander and secret agents. Xander is a "rebel with a cause" and uses his extreme sports celebrity status to manipulate people around him. Seeing a highly charged "PG-13" movie full of extreme stunts performed by a cool guy may likely inspire younger kids to imitate the behavior at home.
Sexual situations: A couple of seductive scenes involving women dancing around in Victoria's Secret-style underwear. One woman dances around a bedpost as if it was a stripper's pole, but no sex takes place. In several scenes we briefly see the bare butts of women wearing thongs. A woman wears low-cut dresses that show cleavage and the Britney Spears low-pant look. A woman is shown in bed under a sheet, but there is no nudity or sex.
Violence: There isn't enough space for me to list the numerous scenes that have some form of violence. Guns and chemically treated darts are shot at various characters. People are blown up in cars, on motorcycles and injured by explosions, combat, etc. A group of men are gassed to death.
Parental advisory: It's going to be hard to say no to your pre-teen on this one because of the star appeal of Diesel, the incredible stunts, extreme sports footage and loud (but cool) music. The reason this movie is rated "PG-13" is the intense action, relatively mild language (compared to most films of this caliber), high body count (without showing graphic or bloody deaths) and a couple of sexually suggestive situations with women dressed in their underwear (with brief rear nudity in thongs) dancing in front of or holding onto men. This movie is obviously going to be one of those "peer pressure" movies, so use your discernment depending on your child's age and maturity. Please remember that this is a movie with a mild rating but for mature audiences. It's not meant for children.
It's a wrap: I love it when I see a unique movie that will forever change the way a genre is made. I had a feeling I would like this movie going in but I had no idea how much. It's not a movie that will appeal to everyone: the music is loud, the characters are rough and the pace of action is fast and intense. But if you're looking for a different style of Bond film with a tattooed leading man that exudes a tough-guy charm and is a champion for the cause of saving people, you'll enjoy this movie. I was a Diesel fan from The Fast and the Furious and I knew he'd be good in this role, but with the level of performance he delivers in XXX, Hollywood has found a new leading man and America has a new action hero.
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