*** Official "XXX" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Aug 7, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "XXX". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Hi all. I was expecting a fun time. This movie irritated me as would a 48-hour bout with violent hiccups. I hope you guys like it more than I did, but for now you can have a look at my review! [​IMG]
    XXX [​IMG] (out of five)
    The producers of the new spy turkey XXX purportedly see the project as a "James Bond for the next generation". Sure, I could see that; if our 'next generation' is comprised solely of blithering idiots, that is.
    What a ridiculous and poorly made train-wreck of a film this is. Those who've seen at least three spy flicks can predict literally every single twist and turn, and those with a healthy respect for the way physics works will giggle uncontrollably for about 100 minutes. Several action flicks will ask viewers to sit back and "turn their brain off" while the movie unspools; XXX asks you to turn your brain off, kick it across the movie theater like a soccer ball and then urinate all over it. XXX doesn't circumvent intelligence; it despises it.
    With a plot culled from movies as similar as La Femme Nikita, Point of No Return, Bad Company and just about any other film featuring more than three helicopters, XXX is three or four loud and inane action sequences mired amidst a movie so low-rent and shoddy that you'd expect it to be found on Cinemax at 4:00 AM. And even then you wouldn't watch it.
    Allegedly the newly-crowned 'King of the Action Flicks' Vin Diesel plays Xander Cage, who is a sort of daredevil/felon/social activist as the movie opens. After a moronic opening in which Big X steals a senator's car and drives it off a bridge before escaping via parachute, the mono-syllabic wanker is chosen to be a covert American operative. Our 'hero' is tested in a few painfully contrived scenarios, before he's given his first assignment: go to Prague and infiltrate an underground Russian terrorist group.
    Yawn.
    Plot means nothing in this movie, regardless of how good or bad it may be. (And believe me, it's bad.) What matters is the reportedly "wall-to-wall" action that director Rob Cohen (filmmaker behind the equally stupid Fast and the Furious) tries to shoehorn in at every conceivable dry spell. Unfortunately, this movie's dry spells outnumber the action scenes by a healthy 5:1 ratio.
    And what about these 'oh-so-extreme' action scenes? I dunno. Seems to me like the unwieldly combination of "extreme sports" and "spy movie action" would be a ridiculous marriage at best, yet that doesn't stop the filmmakers from delivering scene after scene that exasperate and annoy more than they do excite and titillate. (The last time I saw such a pitiful attempt at "action combined with..." something, I was watching a movie called Gymkata.) I mean, what's the point of offering an action sequence that NOT ONLY defies every law of physics known to man...but then to deliver the scene in a gaudy slo-mo style?? Talk about sticking your flaws under a magnifying glass! XXX contains visual moments so astronomically ridiculous that you wouldn't buy them as part of a Looney Tunes cartoon, let alone in a film that claims to take place on Earth.
    A movie can be stupid and still succeed; to revel in such stupidity and repeatedly call attention to the permeating lack of sense is simply bad filmmaking. Since the screenplay seems like something written over the course of one cable TV-filled weekend, it's only logical to expect that the action scenes should be an improvement over the "plot stuff". I counted five action scenes, none of which were more entertaining than hearing a villain scream through his walkie-talkie "Catch him fast! Kill him slow!" (OK, that line is actually delivered via subtitles, but reading it makes it all the more ridiculous!)
    Vin Diesel (who I truly admired back when he was a struggling actor and therefore had to actually "act" for a living) mumbles through the lead role as if he hates the universe. If this is the guy we're supposed to get behind, perhaps the inevitable sequel will take some pains to create an actual character instead of this vapid cipher with dark shades, an eternal glower, and one truly ugly fur coat. The rest of the cast is as generic as the film's title (more on that in a bit), with Samuel L. Jackson adding yet another "sleepwalk" performance to his overloaded filmography and Asia Argento (in full-on Helena Bonham Carter-wannabe mode) sneering and glowering at every turn.
    The villains are painfully one-note and uninteresting, an edict one can only assume came attached to the one that read "No character can be more interesting than the painfully one-note hero." In at least that one respect, it seems the filmmakers accomplished what they set out to do. This is Diesel's show all the way, and although the poor schlub is consistently damned by XXX's interminably bad screenplay, the actor simply doesn't have the chops to elevate the role into something worth watching.
    The film has an insultingly pandering attitude towards women, features some of the most howlingly awful dialogue since last February's Rollerball fiasco, moves at a (dead) snail's pace in between the explosions and motorcycle flips, and consistently insults its own audience when the unrealistic and poorly photographed action bits manage to lurch onscreen. The big avalanche sequence you've seen in all the commercials seems created solely to construct the world's loudest scene without bothering to make it visually cohesive or even exciting!
    But am I maybe being a bit too hard an a stupid action movie that clearly knows that it's a stupid action movie? Nah. Seemingly geared directly (and solely) for 14-year-old boys with more taste for kinetic action than an interest in common sense, XXX still fails in the most basic of action movie requirements: it's not exciting, and it's not any real fun. When the strongest reaction you get from every action scene is "Oh come ON!" followed by about 11 involuntary 'eye-rolls' directed at any audience member who may be looking your way, you're dealing with a movie that swings right past "ridiculous but fun" and right into "Plain. Old. Stupid."
    It's odd that MGM studios would take exception with New Line's "Goldmember" character, when this XXX travesty all but blatantly plagiarizes the James Bond character as a whole. (No kidding, it's all here: the babes, the gadgets, the trademark theme music, etc.) Hey, here's a note to whichever filmmaker aims to create the "next James Bond": try not to rip off the series you're trying to surpass with the subtlety of a loud screaming fart and then claim to have "created the next James Bond"! You guys haven't created anything; you stole from the Bond series mercilessly, and then amplified the stupidity by about 200 degrees. That's not the "next" anything; that's just a bunch of lazy filmmakers cashing an easy paycheck.
    Oh yeah, the title. Our sweaty hero likes to be called "Triple X". He thinks it sounds neat. In my mind, "XC" would make more sense, in that his name is Xander Cage. (Maybe his name should have been "Xander Xavier Xylophone"?) But again, I'm looking for logic in a film that absolutely revels in its own stupidity like a pig rolls about in his own...swill. Call me a cold-hearted curmudgeon for not being able to enjoy a 'mindless action movie', but I'm of the opinion that a movie can be mindless without being the peak of all things insipid.
     
  3. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    XXX: * / *****

    I'm a fan of the action genre. I love even films most others don't take to heart (hey, I enjoy The Long Kiss Goodnight) but XXX fails in almost every meaningful way.

    I went into XXX getting into a "special" theater employee viewing tonight with a friend, who manages to get me into these every so often; and we thought: think of this like TLKG. I mean, a simple fun romp in an action pack world with a mixed plot.

    But The Long Kiss Goodnight looks like Casablanca compared to this mess. If you're expecting non-stop action, you're going to get bored.. and bored often. There are moments with action, yes, but the film features some staggering lulls that are enough to make you want to claw your chair, with dialog delivered in such a stilted manner that it feels absolutely contrived - and some of the actors seem as though they simply don't want to be involved.

    I realize Scott has compared this to James Bond.. I'm going to say that's a bad comparison, I can't compare it that well.. I can't even say it's in the same league. But in a comparison with TLKG, it's a shell of a film.

    In some ways, I'm actually surprised some womens groups aren't upset about the horrible treatment almost every one of the women actors receives (who is either abused or just used as sex toys).

    Even looking at this from the eyes of a 14 year old, I think you'd feel ripped off.

    I'm only giving this film * because there are a few moments with some great effects and the sound quality in other moments is very good. But if you aren't seeing this film for free, you are paying too much. Go see Signs, Spy Kids 2, or something else worth your dollar.
     
  4. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    Jared,

    Reviews in this thread only please.
     
  5. Wes C

    Wes C Supporting Actor

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    This movie was everything I expected. I knew what what kind of movie it was when I went into the theater. That being said I actually liked xXx. Sure, it may be cheesy and extremely unrealistic, but I still thought it was definitely fun. Its not bond, I didn't think it was supposed to be Bond. If you know what to expect form this movie I think its likable.
    Grade: B
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    I liked the attitude and quips of xXx (Xander Cage) in this film. The stunts are of the "that is whacked!" variety, but the allure of this film is mainly about the stunts and the action. It delivers on the action, and I did laugh at the quips.

    I recommend this film for mainly action junkies.

    I give it 2.5 stars or a grade of C+.
     
  7. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Scott,
    stop beating around the bush! Did you like this film or didn't you!? [​IMG]
    Well, I have to say that the movie was alright. The action scenes were of the John Woo variety, and they were on occasion, sorta embarassing to watch, even for an action film of this type. That said however, the avalanch sequence was thrilling! It's definatly the show stopper of the film. I just wish it had more sequences like that one.
    The biggest problem I had with the film was Vin Diesal himself. It's just something about the way he talks that makes him seem like he can't really act. And he's also the worst kisser i've ever seen! He kisses Asia Argento at one point and looking at the lip action, you would have thought that he has never kissed a girl in his life.
    He has this kind of monotone way of speaking as if he's reading his lines off of a teleprompter or from Q-cards. And the way the filmmakers had him spelling out everything about what he was going to do next was very irritating at times. I did like his attitude though, particularly his line about Playstation and just blowing some shit up, that was cool. Other than that, his one liners were pretty lame. I've heard Freddy Krueger say funnier things.
    As Scott pointed out, the film is just very disorganised, like it's just a bunch of action scenes with a poor plot to tie them together. The villians come from the i'm-going-to-kill-you-but-first-i'll-explain-to-you-why school of villiany.
    Thank goodness for Asia Argento! She was hot in this film, her body, not her acting.
    In the end, it was big, loud, and louder, but shape-less with no form. It's a passable couple of hours. But hey, after you've witnessed the train wreck that is The Master of Disguise, any film would look better! [​IMG]
    2 [​IMG]'s out of 5 for xXx.
     
  8. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    Saw this yesterday afternoon in a mostly empty theater.

    My wife said she didn't get into it the way she does for a James Bond flick. Diesel's monotone acting does not help him here. I liked the action stunts and the way the action paralleled a Bond film. It's definitely more of a guy movie. There was a woman behind who cackled "Oh, brother" and "Yeah, right" all the way through the movie.

    I give it maybe two stars out of four. An okay movie, but glad I only paid a matinee price for the show.
     
  9. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

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    I saw xXx earlier this evening. a new kind of spy ? well i will stick with the old kind "shaken not stirred" thankyou very much. I would say very dissapointing flick but i didn't really have much hope that it would be great. All i was hoping for was some fun action scenes and they pretty much were not even that. If your gonna do a brainless action movie could we at least make it fun?
    [​IMG] outta [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    I dunno...I thought xXx was easily better than either of the last two Bond flicks...
    I went in expecting a big, loud, stupid action film, and that's what I got.
    B+
     
  11. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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  12. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    I think Scott nailed it by calling this a cartoon, because that's what this really is, a huge cartoon world, full of cartoon characters and cartoon gadgets, maybe comicbook would be a better style to place this in.

    xXx is the comicbook version of James Bond, the world of this film is not reality, and the film revels in that fact. Xander Cage is an extreme sports hero that has never sold out to marketing, oh he has a tv and internet show to showcase his stunts (the dvcam footage they show for this stuff is terrible looking), but he doesn't have action figures, video games and sportswear named after him. having takled to a 13 year old friend of the family (who is very into extreme sports) not selling out is very, very cool; I don't see the allure to this (why shouldn't they make money off their celbrity?), but hey, this film is geared towards teenage boys that can't drive, so more power to the filmmakers for getting the cartoon right. I personnally found the theft of the car at the beginning to be tasteless, and the excessive attacks on the senator (who I know is not real) to be just that, blatent excess (but once again, this guy sticks it to 'the man' so more cartoonishness). The film has enough lulls in between the action that if the audience isn't invested in the story (easy considering the many leaps the audience needs to take) that it will quickly become boring. There are several action set pieces that are excellently down and almost make the film worth watching (and the avalance scene will make the DVD worth buying, so long as it's DTS). xXx really isn't very defendable at all, though it is clear that Rob Cohen is a great admirerer of David Fincher, with a very well executed shot that takes us from Washington to the NSA headquarters, to Sam Jackson, however the shot is glaringly out of place because the technique is not used again. There is also a quite extensive end credits sequence that is clearly an homage to the opening credits of Fight Club. The gizmos in the film are a great deal of fun and as much a star as Vin Diesal. Diesal does a passable job at acting in the film, though little is needed through so many extensive set piece effects, though he does acquit himself fairly well in the sequence when he introduces himself to the Anarchy 99 bad guys.

    xXx is a fairly undefendable film. It is very happily and very knowingly a cartoonish 'modern' takeoff of James Bond, and as a B movie it is very solid.

    this film very much deserves the grade B it never aspires to more, and does very well at playing as such.

    While not as engaging as Die Hard or the Terminators, this ranks somewhere up there with the Rambo movies or Schwarzeneggers 'lesser' films such as Eraser

    3 stars out of 5
     
  13. Raine Linton

    Raine Linton Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw it last night, and Vin is NOT the next action star and I hope there is not another XXX although the door is open. That being said, the action not acting is what saved this movie for me, and at times, very few, I was drawn in for a brief moment, Not every actor can put out a first rate movie all the time, so I'll forgive VD and SLJ for their performances. On the other hand, this movie will play well on our HT's [​IMG] 3/5
    Raine
     
  14. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    James Bond Must Die.
    XXX has some fun with that idea, in the beginning, as a Bond-like agent, tux and all, walks into a villain's lair and is instantly picked off. James Bond, the movie seems to argue, is a personality-free relic of a more orderly era, who really exists as nothing but a brand name nowadays. The spy business (and, perhaps more importantly, the spy movie business) needs to move forward with a new kind of secret agent that isn't fifty freaking years out of date, and where the movies aren't reduced to rote exercises. Besides, I'll bet killing 007 was very cathartic for Sony execs who got their attempt to start a second Bond franchise thrown out of court last year.
    Truth be told, I like Xander Cage more than James Bond. "X", as he's called, actually has a character arc. It's not much of one, but there is a sense of growth for him, from a directionless, immature smartass to a guy who actually has some sort of sense of duty, and is actually capable of heroism.
    It really happens in one scene, in the middle. To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the movie up until then. Sure, the stars (Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, and Asia Argento) all had charisma to burn, but the movie was so concerned with being loud, hip and in-your-face that it seemed like they were trying to just be James Bond with attitude, and I wasn't getting much beside a headache.
    And then, the movie does something a little different. It's a stock action-movie scene, the alpha villain eliminating his hirelings. We've seen it in movies a million times, but X is seeing it for real, and it horrifies him. X know's that he himself is sort of a punk, and he knew he was dealing with criminals, but what he's seeing is evil. He gets an idea of what the stakes really are, and grows a bit.
    (Not really big spoilers, but they do sort of give away a plot point that any spy/action movie is going to have)
    A little thing, and they don't beat it into the ground by talking about it (it all plays out on Vin's face), but, you know, it gives us an emotional hook into the character that Bond films, for example, don't. Now, I don't know if the action scenes actually got better-choreographed and all after that, but I do know that I cared more.
    And, the latter set-pieces are pretty good. Director Rob Cohen spends the last half-hour or so of the movie doing what the director of an action movie should - making the action faster, bigger, and more dangerous while keeping what's going on clear. The finale is exciting, much more so than a similarly well-staged (but eminently removable) action sequence earlier in the movie wasn't.
    XXX is sort of schizophrenic; the last half is head-and-shoulders above the first. Vin Diesel's the real deal, and the movie left me more than satisfied. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  15. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    xXx
    [​IMG]
    - Asia Argento
    - action sequences
    - gagdets
    [​IMG]
    - character development
    - overflowing genre cliches
    Overall Score: B-
    I never hold all movies/films to the same standards. Rather, I hold them up to my specific expectations and whatnot.
    Having said that, I expected an action-packed spy movie with over-the-top stunt sequences. I Have never seen The Fast and the Furious, but from what I heard, I can expect this sort of thing.
    I liked it quite a bit. It's the farthest thing from being my favorite of the summer, but I liked it where it counted. I thought that a lot of the stunt sequences were pretty unrealistic, but that didn't stop me from enjoying them. For example, a pretty unbelievable stunt is when X had to jump (without the help of a ramp) with a bike and turn it sideways through the opening between barb wires in a fence. I thought it looked silly as hell. To be honest, I don't think it's something to be taken seriously, so I got a good laugh out of it. Sigh, I enjoy too many things. I need to develop movie snob/elitist tastes so I can turn my nose at these things. [​IMG]
    Character development overall was slim to none. I know what you're saying, "Aren't you contradicting your standards when you say that?" Nope, because every movie/film needs and requires character development. However, it's the level of character development that is different for every movie I watch. And even for an action flick, the character development was small. Not enough screen time was given to Ilyana? (Asia Argento's character) to thoroughly develop her more than window dressing (but it's nice window dressing [​IMG] ). The bad guy (forgot his name already) was.....simply bad and not devilishly evil. X's character was pretty well developed for an action flick.
    Gagdets were pretty cool, although they were variations on run-of-the-mill spy stuff (minature explosives, x-ray devices, guns that shoot crazy stuff).
     
  16. Tony_Faville

    Tony_Faville Supporting Actor

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    Jason, I totally agree with what you had to say in your spoiler tag. That scene was one of the best in the film in my opinion...it definitely showed him grow.

    Other than that, I loved the avalanche scene....WOW!

    All in all, like most of you, I went in and saw exactly what I expected to see...and for that alone I give it 3 out of 5.
     
  17. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hmmm...
    just got back from seeing it and...
    i sorta liked it! [​IMG]
    well, i can certainly say i wasn't going in with high expectations, so i wasn't at all disappointed.
    (on a sad note i also didn't go into goldmember with high hopes either -- it's sad that i can't go to a movie and expect anything anymore...but that's a different thread)
    vin does a pretty decent job as the new guy spy. he showed some level of intelligence, compassion, and obviosly he can kick ass.
    this should be pretty obvious, bt you can forget about the plot...
    even though this was chock full of cliches, i was pleasantly surprised to see them forgo the ultimate good-buy vs. bad guy cliche:
    the finale fight

    so, overall, i'll give this a B-.
    btw - this is one of the few movies i've seen where i've paid full price and not been pissed off...now that's sayin' sumthin'
     
  18. Jay Rodriguez

    Jay Rodriguez Stunt Coordinator

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    I didn't care for this movie that much. My wife, on the other hand, liked it. I did enjoy the corvette scene and the scene mentioned above where Xander grows. But everything else was tripe. I don't think Vin is the new action hero. I'm interested to see how this movie ranks with some of the younger moviegoers.
     
  19. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    What can you really expect from Rob Cohen, he wrote it after all. Just look at his scene in The Fast and the Furious. (the pizza guy)
    That should give an idea. As for the film itself I liked it and I will most likely buy it on DVD and watch it a few times.
    Here's the review I wrote for the film
    http://www.eyecravedvd.com/movies/xXx.php
     
  20. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

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    ***1/2 out of ****
    I've seen enough excellent-but-depressing movies this year that I just ate this one up. The action scenes are ludicrous but fun. The script makes "Armageddon" (which I also loved) look like "Citizen Kane". Diesel was passable. Jackson does nothing with a nothing role. Asia Argento was beautiful, but saddled with hideous dialogue. I knew it would be hugely entertaining trash going in, and I wasn't disappointed. [​IMG]
     

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