xXx

At last, Bashthemonkey is reviewing porn!!! The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived, an unabashed (no pun intended) look into the sleazy, yet wholesome, world of hardcore pornographic imagery. 

Wait a moment; this film hasn’t anything to do with porn. It is in actual fact the latest offering from the team that gave us The Fast and The Furious. Rob Cohen directs Vin Diesel again in a film that was described as being a successor to James Bond. It’s definitely not a replacement, but it is a carbon copy of a Bond film, just without the suave sophistication.  

Vin Diesel is Xander Cage, an extreme sportsman, who also has an attitude problem against the ‘ruling minority’. After a daredevil stunt involving a senator’s sport car and a bridge, Xander is approached by Gibbons. Gibbons (played by the ever reliable Samuel L Jackson) is a spymaster extraordinaire and the equivalent to M from the Bond franchise. 

He ‘recruits’ (i.e. forces) Xander to go to the Czech Republic to gain information on…wait for it…a madman with a plan to destroy the world. This madman is Yorgi (Marton Csokas), a renegade officer of the former Czech Secret Service, who with his army of mercenaries and with the help of some scientist intends to launch a remote biological weapon against the world. 

Gibbons figures that Xander will be able to get into Yorgi’s organisation better than a trained agent as he’s more akin to them i.e. they’re his type of people; down and dirty. Once inside Xander meets up with Yelena (Asia Argento), Yorgi’s girl friend and associate who isn’t quite sure which side she’s on. With Yorgi becoming increasingly paranoid, its up to Xander to maintain his cover and stop his dastardly plan. 

Although xXx, through its own hype, had positioned itself as the successor to Bond, the English spy can ignore the hype and carry on sipping Martinis at ease. xXx even has a tuxedoed Bond-esq spy being killed by the ‘new breed’ of villain at a rock concert  for its opening scene. Just one of many blatant symbolisms that attempt to show the world that Xander is the new Bond. There’s homage and then there’s blatant theft; no prizes for guessing which one xXx is. 

Further proof (if it was required) can be gleaned with the ACME Bond Checklist™

1-     Stunts involving either cars, boats, planes, skis, explosions.

2-     Super Villain, with a private army and a hidden lair.

3-     Sexy girl, associated to villain, but attracted to Bond…..er…..hero.

4-     Branch of the Secret Service, headed by R…er…a techno-wizard, who supplies Bond…..er…..hero with gadgets.

5-     Car with more gadgets than ever possible, including missiles, guns, ejector seats etc.

6-     Frantic chase to save the world.

7-     Bond…..er…..hero gets the girl in an intimate moment after saving the world, only to be interrupted by his boss, M…er…Gibbons…er… head of Secret Service, trying to get him to do another mission. 

All present and correct. 

Now having said that, xXx isn’t as bad as other Bond rip-offs, not by a long shot. Vin Diesel growls his way from extreme sportsman to super spy deftly, but it’s in the same vein as the characters he’s played before. The best casting is once again Samuel L Jackson. Xander is a guy who mocks authority and with his shaved head and tattoos is intimidating himself. However, Jackson portrays Gibbons as a man who can intimidate the untameable Xander with ease. 

Other aspects that are good are the little touches that show that Xander isn’t a trained super spy, and is a bit naive. Such as forgetting to take the safety off during a gunfight, not being a sharp shooter and just charging into situations before realising what’s ahead.  

The stunts are great and come close to the grandeur worthy of a Bond film. Xander doesn’t really fight anyone; he just uses some form of extreme sport instead. For example, using a serving tray as a skateboard/snowboard to escape. 

On the whole, even though xXx is a blatant Bond-rip off, it lacks the suave, jet set class of Bond, by a long shot. It does try to tap into the ‘MTV’ and ‘Extreme Sports’ popularity, but Bond beats it hands down. If the Bond franchise is really dying as xXx is trying to state, then how come the last Bond film grossed 350 million? xXx, good though it is, is still a pretender to the throne, but watch out; the throne is not for the taking until the real king is dead… 

Score 6/10

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