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:: XXX 2: The Next Level

Maybe I am getting old. Is 28 old? Perhaps the exigencies of life have just gradually and until now imperceptibly worn me down, but at the risk of sounding like I belong on the new ABC series “Grumpy Old Men” what is it with action movies these days?

Does this sound familiar to you? Model government agent, safe and happy in his belief in the system suddenly becomes the fall guy/ target in some major conspiracy against the American President, American Government or occasionally the entire world (insert favourite option here). Naturally he is innocent, and must save the President, Government or the entire world, but now, unable to trust anyone who is part of the establishment, model government agent has to turn to a renegade outsider with innumerable weaponry and other action hero skills to help him. The renegade outsider has usually had a fall from grace in the past and therefore has indispensable inside knowledge such as those honed by years as a cop, FBI agent, or marine (insert favourite option here) but most importantly has a healthy appetite for f***ing sh*t up.

Often, just to add to character development and dynamics, the renegade outsider also has an age old personal vendetta against the said model government agent or alternatively the tension can be created by a fundamental difference in general world viewpoint, such as whether one says potato or potato, tomato or tomato, that sort of thing. Additionally, either the model government agent or the renegade outsider also harbour a personal vendetta against the leader of the conspiracy and as a physical reminder of their last encounter together, one or more of them will have a dramatically large and permanent scar somewhere on their body, usually in a place that will be accentuated by the cut of a tank top, and which they can look at and rub meaningfully, full of loathing, at poignant moments in the film.

Naturally, the renegade outsider has a posse of other eclectic renegade outsiders who band together with the model government agent and together, faced with innumerable and seemingly insurmountable odds take on the might of the conspiracy, who usually control all the American armed forces. Needless to say with a lot of guts, determination and a little bit of luck, triumph in the end and save the American President, American Government or occasionally the entire world. Oh and don’t forget the hot chick thrown into the mix who from time to time gets to shoot a large gun in a scantily clad outfit who counterpoints the comic relief provided by the posse of eclectic renegade outsiders.

And now we come to XXX2. Ice Cube takes over Vin Diesel’s role as Xander Cage in the original XXX film, as the new recruit to the XXX program, the ex-marine renegade outsider, Darius Stone. Samuel L Jackson reprises his role as model government agent Augustus Gibbons and Willem Dafoe plays George Deckhart, the leader of a powerful military splinter group who is plotting to take out the president, take over the government and then take on the world. Sigh.

I haven’t seen the original film but from what I gather it is supposed to be James Bond for the new generation. I have read the premise behind the XXX series variously described as “007 meets extreme sports” and “Bond on steroids” which is perhaps why they hired Lee Tamahori who shot the last Bond film, “Die Another Day” to direct. But that proposition really just turns in upon itself when you recall that Die Another Day failed to deliver what Bond films of old have delivered consistently for years - action with a little bit more. XXX2 has nothing more. It is just action. If that’s what you are after then why don’t you just play X-Box instead.