xXx opens with our lead, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), robbing a man of his Corvette and driving it off a bridge, parachuting out and walking away from the incident. He did this because the owner of the car wants to ban both rap music and video games, the latter of which are mentioned a few times over the course of the film. I figure this is because xXx feels quite like a video game in many aspects. In particular, it feels like a James Bond video game.
Cage returns to his home where there's a party going on. It gets interrupted when all of the windows are shot out, the power's cut and Cage is shot with a tranquilizer dart. His last words before being rendered unconscious are "It was only a Corvette". Be prepared for more of these "smart" one-liners throughout the film, because xXx is filled with them. Cage awakens and is told by an Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) that he needs to help the government by going undercover to find out more about an agency called "Anarchy 99". Apparently all of the members of this group can determine if someone has been professionally trained, so civilians are now being used.
Since he's being told that his earlier stunting incident will send him to prison if he doesn't comply, Cage heads to the Czech Republic to find out what's going on there. He ends up getting accepted into Anarchy 99, (he seems to be something of an anarchist himself), and this is where most of the film takes place. Cage looks around for secrets, he meets a girl who is also a member of this group named Yelena (Asia Argento), who he falls for and she for him, and it becomes a typical spy thriller except there are few more explosions than most Bond flicks. This is why I related it to a Bond video game, since those seem to have things blowing up more often than the films.
Many of the action scenes here seem unrealistic, which took me out of them. For instance, anytime Cage gets hold of a motorcycle, he is able to get it more than 20 feet in the air, without a ramp or jump. He just seems to will it that high, and even though he's supposed to be some amazing athlete, I don't think that's possible. There's also a scene in which he decides to start an avalanche and then outrun it on a snowboard. His pursuers are on snowmobiles, but are somehow slower than he is. Fine, it's an action movie, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, xXx.
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But despite the action scenes being heavily improbable, to put it lightly, I found myself entertained for most of the film. Things go "boom" a fair bit, and since that's mostly why you'd want to see a movie like this, you won't be disappointed. And hey, there's even a cameo by Danny Trejo, which made me laugh a fair bit. So there's that to look forward to as well.
xXx continues copying Bond in its absurd plotting, but also might have taken inspiration from Armageddon when it comes to picking our hero. Clearly Cage isn't suitable to be a real secret agent, but they pick him anyway, just like how oil drillers have to become astronauts. But they got training. Cage doesn't get anything, not even a 1-minute montage. He comes with fighting skills because, well, he's an extreme sports athlete, I guess. Details, details. The plot is right out of Bond though, ending with an elaborate set-up that makes little logical sense if you think about it, but villains in these kinds of films don't think logically.
There's a reveal at the end of the film where we learn that the main villain knew something important all along, but didn't say anything for 2 whole years -- not until we get the chance to be there, I suppose. But if he knew this, and was even the slightest bit rational, he wouldn't have let a lot of things happen. But he did, and it's because of this the Cage even has a chance of foiling his plans.
Do they have any chemistry?
The villain's big plan doesn't even make much sense when you think about it. If you'll allow me, I'll spoil what the plan is. He wants to release some sort of toxic gas to multiple cities around the world, in hopes that, since nobody knows where the attacks come from, everyone will blame everyone else. I guess he didn't know why nobody actually fired at one another in the Cold War. Or was he hoping to have nuclear weapons fired everywhere so that absolutely nobody would survive. That definitely would be the anarchy that this group wants.
You have to look past implausibilities, impossibilities and irrational thoughts in an action film like this. The stunts are mostly enjoyable, the plot is at least making an effort, and the actors all seem to be having fun. Diesel especially never seems to take anything too seriously, even though his character actually seems a little bit too smart for how he's set-up. But maybe that's why this crazy plan that the American government is using might actually work. Just maybe.
xXx isn't a great movie, but if you want to waste away two hours watching Vin Diesel blow things up, then you at the very least have that option. And it won't feel like a complete waste, because the action scenes, while implausible (impossible?), are entertaining. That's the most important thing in a film like this, and you will feel entertained, even if nothing makes much sense.
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