DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
HD DVD / Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer
Search: For:
Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » XXX: State of the Union (Blu-ray)
XXX: State of the Union (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // August 12, 2008 // Region A
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted August 3, 2008 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

Xander Cage is dead, long live Darius Stone! Following up sometime shortly after the events in the XXX: Director's Cut in which Xander Cage is blown up and killed, XXX: State Of The Union throws former NWA bad-boy Ice Cube into the role of America's newest top super secret agent.

When a group of commandos overtake the XXX compound in Virginia, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role from the first film) decides that it's time to find someone badder and more extreme to fill Cage's shoes and find out who is after them and why. His pick is Stone, who he worked with some time in the past in some sort of special op unit (it's never explained in much detail) and who is currently doing time in the big house for punching out his commanding officer, General Deckert (Willam Dafoe), who has since been promoted to a higher up position in the White House.

Gibbons and company spring Stone from a maximum security prison and quickly get him up to speed on they 'hows and whys' of being a XXX. They brief him on as much as they know about the attack and pretty much set him loose to do his thing and he takes to it like a fish to water. As Stone starts snooping around Washington he uncovers Deckert's plot through some undercover work and soon enough he's called into action to save the country from evil.

If the first XXX was a James Bond film for those suffering from ADD, XXX: State Of The Union is a James Bond for the mentally retarded. This movie has plot holes in it the size of the Pacific Ocean and a good portion of the film simply defies logic. Loose ends are never resolved, continuity is thrown out the window, and lots of stuff blows up. Car chases, shoot outs, explosions, a bullet train, and a few hand to hand combat scenes keep the action coming fast and furious like, but unfortunately the film checks its brain at the door on the way in.

The film makes a couple of backhanded references to its predecessor such as when Ice Cube notes what he 'isn't going to do for his country' or when Samuel Jackson answers the question of what happened to the first XXX with a coy 'he's dead' but other than that it doesn't really have a whole lot to do with the earlier film.

While much of the success of the first film was in the stunt work, here much of the daredevil action if handled completely, and very obviously so, by computer graphics. At times the film feels more like a video game than a movie and sadly these scenes do suffer because of it. When Ice Cube races a Shelby Cobra down the railroad tracks after the Presidential Bullet Train, the fact that the helicopters that are backing him are not real really does hurt what could otherwise have been a fun, over the top moment. Instances like this are peppered throughout the film and it hurts the movie in a big way.

The camerawork is frenetic in that the film never stops moving though not without a few impressive moments (the rooftop chase when Stone escapes from prison is nicely done... until he jumps up to catch the helicopter). The dialogue is corny, cliché-ridden, and difficult to take seriously and the performances are completely hampered by the script. Dafoe and Jackson have been excellent in the past and even Ice Cube has had a few shining moments but sadly you wouldn't know that by any of their work in this movie.

That being said, despite its rampant stupidity, XXX: State Of The Union is an entertaining, if completely dumb, time waster. The dialogue is as ham-fisted as it gets, with Ice Cube talking trash to anyone who gets in his way just to show how 'street' he is (for further proof of this, when going over his dosier we see a picture of him from his N.W.A. days) and these moments provide plenty of unintentional (?) hilarity. The movie isn't trying to be anything it isn't. It's not marketed as an intelligent action film or even an original one - it's simply a comic book come to life. If you're able to turn of your brain for a hundred minutes or so, as many of us are, Ice Cube and Samuel L. Jackson will probably entertain you at least a little bit. The filmmakers have followed up a flashy, brainless action film with an even flashier (though unconvincing) and more brainless action film.

The DVD

Video:

XXX: State Of The Union arrives on Blu-ray in a 1080p VC-1 encoded 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Aside from some minor visible edge enhancement in a few scenes, the image is pretty solid here. Colors are nice and bold and black levels stay strong and deep. There's a lot more detail here than in the previous standard definition transfer and the image is much cleaner and sharper than it's ever looked before - you'll notice this in a lot of the facial close ups but also in the backgrounds throughout the movie. Skin tones look good and there are no issues at all with print damage. A couple of scenes look just a tad brighter than maybe they need to but this isn't a constant issue and it's more than likely a stylistic choice rather than an authoring problem.

Sound:

Audio options are supplied in both 48 kHz English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks with optional subtitles available in English, French and English SDH. This is a pretty aggressive and there are some spots where the performers do get drowned out by the explosions and the fire fights. The score is really pumped up in the mix and the low end has some nice, effective rumble to it. The sound mix here is just as over the top as the movie and this rather bombastic audio suits the movie rather appropriately.

Extras:

The supplements from the standard definition release of the film have been carried over to this Blu-ray release, starting with the commentary tracks. Gluttons for punishment will be delighted to find not one but two tracks supplied on this release. The first track is from director Lee Tamahori and screenwriter Scott Hindberg and although it's a fairly lively track, it isn't all that mind blowing. They cover the basics of the film's production, how Ice Cube was chosen for the role, how they came up with some of the action set pieces and a few of the obstacles that they encountered in bringing them to life. All in all, not a bad commentary track, but not a classic either. If you were really into the movie, this one is likely going to be worth your time. The second commentary track is from a few of the visual and CGI effects supervisor's who worked on the film. This one is considerably more technical in nature, and it does a halfway decent job of enlightening us as to how they worked the flesh and blood actors and props into the computer generated set pieces. While I don't feel that they were all that successful in their attempts to seamlessly blend the real with the unreal, some of the 'how did they do that' questions that are answered here in this commentary are rather interesting.

Up next is a fairly extensive documentary on the making of the film entitled From Convict To Hero: The Making Of XXX: State Of The Union (48:46, standard definition, fullframe) that is actually quite worthwhile if you're into behind the scenes material. We get plenty of interviews with pretty much all of the key cast members and a few of the guys and gals who make it all come together behind the camera as well, but in addition to that we get quite a bit of raw stunt footage that shows how much work went into the action set pieces that make up the bulk of the film's merit. We also get a look at some production artwork and unfinished CGI test footage. Interestingly enough, Dafoe states that he based his performance on Donald Rumsfeld, which puts his character's politics in a much creepier light.

Up next are three brief 'making of' featurettes that each take a look at a more specific aspect of the movie. First up is Top Secret Military Warehouse (8:33, standard definition, non-anamorphic widescreen) which gives us an interesting look at the set design and soundstage area that was used throughout the film. XXX: According To Ice Cube (5:25, standard definition, non-anamorphic widescreen) is a sit down session with the star of the film who talks about why he liked the role (he describes it as a 'younger, cooler Bond'), why he took the role, and how he feels about the film. Finally, Bullet Train Breakdown (5:40, standard definition, non-anamorphic widescreen) shows how the bullet train sequence was created by blending computer generated graphics with soundstage work and real life stunt work. Director Lee Tamahori pops up throughout the three featurettes to offer his input on these aspects of the production as well and a lot of production art is used throughout to illustrate various points. At times throughout these three featurettes you'll be able to select from three different angles and switch between them to get a feel for how the specific scenes were put together in the editing room.

Rounding out the extra features are three quick deleted scenes that were mainly cut for pacing reasons that are available with or without an optional commentary from the filmmakers. There are a few fun moments in here but nothing that at all affects the outcome of the film. A Blu-ray promo reel and trailers for Starship Troopers 3, Redbelt and the computer generated Resident Evil: Degeneration are also included. Animated menus and chapter selection are included and this release comes complete with Blu-ray live capability if your player supports that functionality.

Final Thoughts:

While the only new content on this Blu-ray release comes in the form of the Blu-ray Live option, the transfer and the audio show marked improvements over their standard definition counterparts. XXX: State Of The Union is far from a classic, but it is chock full of big dumb action and it's certainly entertaining enough if you don't mind checking your brain at the door. Rent it for kicks.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

Find the lowest price for 'XXX: State of the Union (Blu-ray)'
Popular Reviews
1. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
2. Snowpiercer
3. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
4. Mad Men: the Final Season-Part 1
5. Nekromantik
6. The Vanishing
7. The Purge: Anarchy
8. Gone With the Wind: 75th Anniversary Edition
9. Life After Beth
10. 24: Live Another Day


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use