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xXx: State of the Union

Released

Latest Home Video

Jul 26, 2005

MPAA Rating:

PG-13


Cast

Ice Cube

Samuel L. Jackson

Studio

2005 Sony Pictures

Still shot from the movie: xXx: State of the Union.

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Reviewed by

Overall C-
ViolenceD+
SexB
LanguageD+
Drugs/AlcoholB
Run Time

Making the Grades

In this sequel, the fictitious National Security Agency is once again in need of a "bad man" to replace Agent Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), their last "bad man" pick, and star, of the first xXx movie.

With Cage supposedly deceased, NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) finds himself in a tight spot after the agency's underground bunker is unexpectedly attacked. Suspecting it's an inside government job, he needs another nasty to save the day.

"The new triple-X has to be more dangerous. Deadlier. Have more attitude," declares Gibbons. So, he goes back to the prison system (where he located his last recruit) and digs up our next hero: Darius Stone (Ice Cube). Picked by Gibbons for his experience on the mean streets of DC, Stone agrees to help only if the chief promises to arrange his dramatic escape from the penal complex.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, pacifist President Sanford (Peter Strauss) is at odds with his warmongering Secretary of Defense, George Decker (William Dafoe), a former general with past ties to both Stone and Gibbons. Because the high official is suspected of planning an all-out takeover of the Capitol, Stone works his way into Decker's circle.

When word of a military coup is unveiled and the President is brazenly kidnapped, Stone seeks assistance from his street pals -- Lola (Nona Gaye), a former romantic interest who shares his love of hot cars, and Zeke (Xzibit), an operator of a chop shop with some lines on excess military equipment. Explaining they could lose the freedom to continue the life of crime they have enjoyed under the current regime, his friends decide to join the fight for their country. Together, they have everything required to bring copious amounts of hardware and action to the screen.

But bombs, bullets and bravado are a poor substitute for cliched writing and pale performances. The script tells us what we already know, "The fate of the free world is in the hands of a bunch of hustlers and thieves," yet doesn't add any novel information or real reasons to keep the viewer engaged until the end. And may I never complain again about Diesel's acting abilities. Ice Cube's frowny face and deadpan stereotyped we-gonna-git-them-suckas street slang makes for a long sit. During moments when he and Gaye share the screen, this high-octane adventure pulls the emergency brake and grinds to a stop.

Bad acting aside, the most prominent message this film provides for young audiences is experience in crime can teach you essential skills for saving life and liberty. This negative lesson is reinforced with the toxic mix of action and heroics, with little regard for collateral damage. At best, we are offered platitudes about teamwork and the notion that anyone can make a difference.

Pumped up like a comic book adventure (many of the action sequences inadvertently look more animated than real), stylized violence of nearly every form permeates this picture. Cube's character can dodge bullets, suppress legions of enemies with his hands, and drive virtually any military vehicle while shooting down opponents. There's little blood within this mayhem, and even less consequences. Not surprisingly, mild and moderate profanities are included along with a single sexual expletive.

With Mr. xXx in charge, the State of the Union is dismal, at best.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about xXx: State of the Union.

Think about what this movie would be like if you substituted other personalities for the trio of heroes. What ideas might three women come up with? What about teens? Children? Three senior military veterans?

Canadian Movie Ratings

BC
SK
PG Violence, Coarse Language
AB 14A
MB 14A Violence
ON PG Violence, Not Recommended for Young Children
QC 13+ Violence
NB
NS
NL
PE
14A

Canadian Home Video Rating: 14A

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of xXx: State of the Union...

For a closer examination of the State of the Union, this xXx sequel provides commentary by director Lee Tamahori, as well as added info about the visual effects. Further your investigation by watching the featurettes: From Convict to Hero—The Making of xXx: State of the Union, Top Secret Military Warehouse, and xXx: According to Ice Cube. If that’s not enough, the DVD includes three deleted scenes (with optional commentary), and four bullet train breakdown angles with an introduction by Lee Tamahori. The movie can be purchased in either a full or wide screen version. Both offer audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), and Dolby Surround Sound (French), with subtitles in English and French.

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