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XXX: State of the Union

Starring Ice Cube, Samuel L Jackson, Peter Strauss and Willem Dafoe
Screenplay by Simon Kinberg
Directed by Lee Tamahori

IN SHORT: Yech. [Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence and some language. 101 minutes]

In the days before X-Men and Spider-Man, movies like XXX: State of the Union were described as "comic book movies." Why? Big Fights. Big Explosions. Big Cars. Big breasted women. Bigger Explosions. Big men with big attitudes. What more could any red blooded American male want?

Well, how about teaming old XXX agent Vin Diesel with new XXX agent Ice Cube in a third movie and calling it XXX-Men? (it ain't gonna happen but a guy can dream, right?) We're getting ahead of our self with that digression so, we'll reboot and welcome y'all back to the world of XXX, agent of the National Security Agency. American superspy with the emphasis on hit kick punch shoot blow up and then do it some more. The old XXX is out of town. The new, soon-to-be XXX is locked away in a military penitentiary. NSA bossman Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) is one of two survivors as a team of men in black with guns and explosives shoot and blow up the NSA HQ. With only tech geek, Toby Lee Shavers (Michael Roof) to rely on, SLJ poses as a famous attorney and gets Special Ops soldier Darius Stone (Ice Cube) sometimes called D-Train, sprung from military lock-up.

He doesn't do it legally, of course, but it's a escape scene with plenty of explosions and gunfire and a helicopter and some stunts that made an effects coordinator very happy and prosperous. What the new XXX must do, in a very thin story that we're not going to begin to explain, is protect President Sanford (Peter Strauss) from assassination. The Prez is about to make his State of the Union speech to the combined Congress. Lessee, that makes over 500 members of Congress and the Secretary of Defense (Willem Dafoe) potential targets as well, so, that's about all the plot you need.

Well, almost. "D" must contend with the command decisions of another Agent (Scott Speedman). He needs help from his own army of unsavory louts (and we think actors should get credit and still have half a page to fill) to form his own army to take on an army that wants to effect a coup d'etat. He turns to street gangster Zeke (Xzbit) and his crew for the manpower; to ex-chopshop hustler (now a high end car dealer)/ ex-love interest named Lola (Nona Gaye) for something to stand up to a tank.

There's also a drop dead blonde named Charlie Mayweather (Sunny Mabrey), whose presence is integral to the Third Act -- but some things a gentleman never tells <vbg>.

The thing is, folks, the effects work is fairly topnotch. Even the prone to be stoned teenkids in our audience didn't react at the proper visual cues [and we know what the cues are. We have a long memory of things illegal like that.] Explosions and speeding trains and crushing autos and drop dead blondes used to be enough to keep them kids happy. Us, too, for that matter. It's a telltale sign of just how big a stinker XXX: State of the Union is that those tactile cues didn't work.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to XXX: State of the Union, he would have paid . . .


Unless you're severely deprived of blonde stimulation, don't even rent.

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