Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a thrillseeker who makes videos of his death defying feats – not for his own ego, but to sell. Bending and breaking the law, he attracts the attention of the National Security Agency’s Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) who’s looking for someone just as lean, mean and capable of dealing with Anarchy 99, a group of dangerous thugs in Prague, led by Yorgi (Marton Csokas) and his edgy girlfriend Yelena (Asia Argento). Nothing less than the fate of the world is at stake, and Xander has little option but to agree to the job, or go to jail. So is agent Triple X recruited.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Without wasting a moment even on opening titles, xXx (pronounced Triple X – and quite possibly Mr Triple X to you), gets going into its opening action scene with an urgency and energy that will drive the movie till the not so bitter end. Vin Diesel has already signed for the sequel, and it is with good reason his paycheck will jump 50% - with this movie, a new action hero is born; a badass recruited to the American security services by the wry dude with raised scars on his face and deep wounds in his eyes, or at least one of them. Samuel L. Jackson is well cast here but there’s hardly time to admire his work as xXx fires up its cylinders – all 99 of them, it seems. Shifting from a Colombian drug centre to a stylishly used Prague, the film feels more like a dozen laps in a Formula 1 car round the track than any film in recent memory. It’s not just a Bond model, it’s a zooped up version, with gadgets and gizmos galore, a weapon inventory to die from and badass bitches to match xXx himself, plus lots of hardass humour. It’s packed with some of the biggest chases and stunts ever filmed – one major stunt got a round of hearty applause from the industry audience at the preview I attended - and Dean Semler’s camera grabs everything worth grabbing, from snowy mountain high to dirty lowdown scumbags in close up. Speaking of which, Marton Csokas is a terrific Yorgi, the baddest of the baddies in the film, and I suspect this is his breakthrough to an international career. (He’s a New Zealander with a list of credits in Australian and New Zealand productions.) Everything the film promises it delivers, even for heavy metal fans. But don’t worry, there is opera as well. It’s that kinda film where you laugh out of amazement. You’ve heard of the high concept movie? Well, this is a hyper concept movie shot entirely on adrenalin, with the idea of extreme sports taken to the max. But it still manages to tell a clear story with clear targets: you in the cinema seat. A long rush.
Review by Louise Keller:
The AAA of action, xXx is a blast of adrenalin, rated EEE for excitement. And Vin Diesel is the man. Gravel-voiced with muscles bulging under tattoos, an imposing, charismatic, unpredictable human volcano poised to erupt anytime, anywhere. With jaw-crunching stunts that are nothing short of spectacular, xXx delivers all the thrills you would expect in a big budget action film reminiscent of Bond, but with the sizzle of The Fast and the Furious. The opening stunt involving a red convertible Corvette, a bridge, and a death-defying leap will make you catch your breath and/or gasp, but that’s only the beginning. Merging the borders of fantasy and reality is a startling and effective ploy, and we are thrown headlong into a thrilling escapist adventure. All the stunts are big, bold and superbly executed from conception to execution, and the man-made avalanche in the picture post-card alpine setting with an awesome snow boarding leap that resembles a rap dance in the sky will make every hair stand on end. It gives you a pretty good idea what it might feel like to be a tiny speck in a bowl of beaten eggwhites. All the ingredients are there – the unlikely hero, the girl (‘there’s always a girl’) and a splendid villain in the shape and form of Marton Csokas, whose brooding and commanding persona oozes onto the screen. Csokas effects a stillness and confidence that works wonderfully opposite the very physical Diesel, while Asia Argento combines cerebral and physical appeal as the mystery woman whose morals appear to fluctuate. Samuel L. Jackson is welcome addition to the cast, adding his own gravitas. Through Dean Semler’s lens, all the locations look fantastic. In fact they’re a spectacle in themselves – from the natural settings to the beautifully photogenic Prague, exquisitely displaying its sound sense of history. A solid script combines just the right mix of quips and credibility, and the gadgets (a case filled with darts, explosive bandaides and X ray binoculars) are all good fun. Add a pounding and exciting score, the combination of vodka, vomen and venom has never felt so good. xXx is as cool as it is hot.
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VIN DIESEL - Andrew L. Urban meets Mr X
CAST: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Roof
PRODUCER: Neal H. Moritz
DIRECTOR: Rob Cohen
SCRIPT: Rich Wilkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Semler
EDITOR: Chris Lebenzon, Joel Negron, Paul Rubell
MUSIC: Randy Edelman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gavin Bocquet
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 12, 2002