Vin Diesel has arrived. Since his appearance in a supporting role, as part of the moderately successful sci-fi/horror flick Pitch Black, fandom has been flooded with an ever growing throng of Vin Diesel admirers. His fame has been massively out of proportion with his success. Even with The Fast and the Furious under his belt, Vin hardly qualifies as the A list star his fans have been working so hard to pump him up to be. Supporting roles in two moderate blockbusters does not the next Tom Cruise make. xXx changes that. Vin has been given a 20 million dollar chance to prove he really is the badass, balls to the wall, leading man action star everyone seems to want him so desperately to become.
With his chance, Vin Diesel makes a point. We've been doing it wrong. Hollywood filmmakers have become obsessed with villains. Our heroes are no longer important. Now, when marketing the latest Star Trek sequel, studios don't play up the heroism of Captain Picard. No, instead they talk about how GREAT the villain will be this time around. Or look at James Bond, a franchise which has quickly become boring, despite the best efforts of Pierce Brosnan's dead on work as 007. We blame the villains for being bland and listless. Producers respond and now go out of their way to pump up the evil mastermind behind the plot of the soon to be released 20th James Bond flick. The problem is, heroes are lame! Or at least in the hands of modern action producers they have become so. To compensate, we rely on villains to add spice to our diet, since our squeaky clean good-guys seem mostly interested in putting us to sleep.
Forget all that. The problem with Bond isn't his lack of competition; Vin Diesel creates heroes worth cheering about. The bad guys don't matter cause the good guy is so cool he alone keeps you in your seat. In this case, the good guy is Xander, nickname xXx. Rebel, anarchist, and extreme sports obsessive, xXx gets nabbed by government suits and offered a choice: Work for us or rot in a hole. So X goes to work, attempting to do what the National Security Agency's squeaky clean super-spies could not, infiltrate the heavy-metal underworld of over-the-edge Russian terrorists, who in X's words are "my kind of people."
There’s not a moment of rest in the action packed, extreme pace of xXx. Every moment is pulse pounding battle, cold blooded intrigue, and big bad Vin Diesel. This is without a doubt one of the most expertly made, pure action movies to come down the pipes in years. xXx is everything James Bond wants to be, and everything the James Bond franchise most clearly is not.
Granted, sometimes the cheesiness gets laid on pretty think. Ultimately, though, it’s all in good fun, as xXx blows the doors off to throw things at audiences they’ve never ever seen before. The thrills are intense, the soundtrack pulse pounding, and most importantly the hero is finally worth watching. Xander isn’t some pretty boy. He’s a thug on the right side of the law. Only Diesel could make this work, and he does so expertly, juggling hard edged toughness and little boy charm on a tight rope of adrenaline excitement. Sure, Sam Jackson is embroiled in there somewhere, but for all the Jackson magic, in xXx he’s mostly superfluous. This movie is all about one man and nothing else matters.
Stylized and boldly beautiful, it’s painfully obvious that this isn’t about tear jerking acting or gut busting laughs. xXx is what it is, action unchained, Diesel set free, madman on the run. Embrace it for what it is because it’s a lot more fun than just about anything else. This is energy so flawless that xXx manages to make even the end credits wildly exciting.
Beyond the excitement and fun, the real beauty of xXx is it’s willingness to face the reality of a new era in spydom. The world has changed and the cold war gentleman agent is dead. As it has changed, so have our attitudes… and xXx reflects that. There’s a gritty reality built in to this film, hidden between explosions and karate kick jumps. That, more than anything else is what sells it as something apart from other contenders.
Action fans rejoice, xXx re-engineers Bond for a savvier, more cynical generation. A new hero for a new movie experience without the more dated cliché’s of the 007 empire. Trust me, you’ve never seen stunts like this. Vin Diesel is legit, a titan among ass kickers. Give him his due.
Reviewed By: Joshua Tyler