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Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // August 9, 2002
List Price: Unknown

Review by Geoffrey Kleinman | posted August 6, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Back in 1994 when Vin Diesel made his independent 'Multi-Facial', he had never appeared in a major motion picture, didn't have an agent, wasn't on any radar screen but made no bones about it - he was going to be a star. I remember seeing an interview with him, where he flexed his muscles and talked about how big a star he would be. All I could think then was, 'who does this guy think he is?', no one on the 'indie scene' has ever been absolutely, undeniably, unquestionably convinced that they were going to be a star.

With notable roles in Saving Private Ryan, The Iron Giant, and most recently The Fast and The Furious, Diesel has come a long way toward becoming the star he so confidently believed he'd be. But after seeing xXx I think Vin will be a bigger star than even he had imagined.

xXx is one of the most action packed, rockem-sockem movies I've seen. From the opening scene on, it never lets up. So many 'modern' action films are more focused on ways to blow people up, but in xXx Director Rob Cohen focuses more on the action than body count. I was simply amazed at the sheer number of action sports Cohen fits into xXx including - Base Jumping, Sky Diving, Snow Boarding, Skate Boarding, and BMX Racing. With each one, Cohen is constantly pushing them to the absolute edge and the result are some truly jaw dropping stunts that are simply amazing.

What makes xXx so enjoyable is the very light and fun tone that runs throughout the film. Vin Diesel is fantastic as Xander Cage (xXx), the take no crap daredevil who finds he has little choice but to 'serve his country'. He is so fun to watch and has so much energy, he manages to truly reinvigorate the action hero role. Classic 'one liners' which have become tired and worn coming from actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis somehow find new life with Diesel. He has such a magnetic screen presence there's no question that he'll become one of the more sought after action stars.

In addition to Diesel's strong performance, I also really enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson who you could tell was having a lot of fun with his role of NSA Agent Gibbons. Jackson plays Gibbons in the same style that he did Elijah Price in Unbreakable and realizes that xXx isn't high drama, but rather a high octane action comic book.

Also of note is Asia Argento who plays Yelena , the female lead in xXx. Argento (daughter of the famed horror director Dario Argento) brings a wonderfully dark and complex take on her role showing that action film women don't all have to be like Denise Richards (ditzy window-dressing). There is such great chemistry between Asia Argento and Vin Diesel that together they really carry the film.

xXx represents a new breed of 'Secret Agent' films (and probably will mark the end of an era for the Bond series). Instead of a sophisticated, womanizing, book smart agent, we get a tough as nails, take no crap, extreme athlete who loves what he does and does what he likes. xXx takes the Secret Agent genre and pumps it full with Gen X culture, music and attitudes, and in the process somehow manages to create a main character than we can instantly like.

If you're looking for a great summer action film that is pure enjoyment, xXx is absolutely your film. It's not the kind of film to really analyze or hold up to 'reality' - it's the kind of film you go to see on the biggest screen with the loudest sound system you possibly can find, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.




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