Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 124 minutes
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Stupidity is making a comeback. Not since the days when Joel Silver ruled Hollywood and musclebound subliterates vied for supremacy on the big screen has the industry spawned a phenomenon as garish and confounding as Vin Diesel.
Curiosity brought me to the skinheaded action star’s latest release, “XXX”. Having read countless articles and seen dozens of television profiles, all hailing the actor as the “Next Big Thing”, I felt it my duty as a critic to investigate, to find out what all the hubbub’s about.
Somehow I managed to miss Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious so this was my first opportunity to behold the big V’s unique charisma and screen appeal. I have to say the experience left me baffled, half-deaf and fearful for the future of western culture.
“XXX” is the loudest motion picture ever made. Despite that fact, I found it nearly impossible to make out what its star was saying much of the time. In addition to his super-pumped physique and impressive accumulation of tattoos, the 35 year old performer is gifted with a speaking voice suggestive of Lou Ferrigno after a marathon dental appointment.
Deisel plays an obnoxious enthusiast of extreme sports infamous for videotaping daredevil pranks such as stealing a politician’s car, driving it at high speed off a bridge and parachuting to safety. Naturally, when problems arise in Prague, the US government sends Samuel L. Jackson to sign Vin up for superspy duty. In the heyday of inane 80s action films they didn’t even make them this dumb.
Marton Csokas chews the Eastern European scenery bigtime as the evil mastermind behind an organization known as Anarchy 99. That’s right. This isn’t even a parody of spy films and it’s got an evil mastermind! The members of Anarchy 99 are a funloving bunch. After a hard day of developing biological weapons they party like rock stars in Csokas’ sprawling, cliff-perched castle (“It’s time for the beetches!”). Diesel is able to infiltrate the group and buddy up to its boss primarily on the basis of his rep as a daredevil prankster (though the picture fails to explain how Neonazi Czech terrorists would have knowledge of his exploits) and his ability to quote the lyrics to certain antiestablishment punk rock songs.
While undercover, Diesel discovers that Csokas intends to destroy the world by launching little missiles filled with poison gas from a dopey rocket-speedboat deal scientists have constructed in his castle’s secret dungeon. The picture also fails to explain how the madman plans to attack parts of the planet that can’t be accessed via the river which runs through Prague. The audience knows that hardly matters though, since it’s a given Vin will wind up doing some extreme boat riding and world saving before all’s said and done.
Which raises the question: Given that all this overamped pubescent cartoon nonsense has been said and done to death, why are studios paying Vin Diesel millions to do it all over again now? The consensus among film industry types seems to be that action heroes like Schwarzenegger, Willis and Stallone have gotten too old for this sort of thing and left a void for performers like Diesel and the Rock to fill. That may account for the fact that Diesel has a job. It doesn’t begin to explain where Hollywood executives got the idea audiences want to relive the car chases, shoot outs, gratuitous
explosions and preposterous plots of 80s action extravaganzas.
Consequently, I am no closer to comprehending the Vin Diesel phenomenon than I was prior to viewing “XXX”. From where I sit, the guy’s got all the screen presence of Andrew Dice Clay on steroids. I would sooner invest money in Enron than one more minute of my time in watching his work. This isn’t, as the actor has suggested, a new kind of spy movie for a new generation. It’s a dumb kind of spy movie pandering to a dumbed down generation.
Though, come to think of it, maybe that’s the plan: Millions of the undereducated, underemployed and underassimilated need never
feel unrepresented at the cinema gain. They have their Moron King.
Posted on August 13, 2002 in Reviews by Rick Kisonak
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- A MAN APART
- SHOULD 18 YEAR-OLDS WATCH “XXX?”
- GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – DUMB AND (NOT SO) DUMBER TO RULES THE BOX OFFICE
- XXX: STATE OF THE UNION
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