Saturday, January 21, 2017

Movie Review: xXx: State of the Union

The action spy sequel returned without its leading man as Xander Cage was reportedly killed. The NSA is under attack and Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) is a prime target as men from his old team are being murdered. He recruits a new member to the xXx program, Darius Stone (Ice Cube), a marine lieutenant from Gibbons old team that was imprisoned. After arranging an escape, Gibbons informs Stone of the new scheme. Stone uses his training and ability at extreme transportation to steal information and elude the authorities. 

Agent Kyle Steel (Scott Speedman) is on his tale as Stone finds himself quickly on the wrong side of the law and questioning of authority. A plot is revealed that the Secretary of Defense George Deckert (Willem Dafoe) is eliminated the team members and changing the direction of the country. These movies are never about the plot but State of the Union spends a significant amount of time on the political intrigue and Ice Cube's espionage. 

The movie doesn't shirk the true purpose of the film including several outrageous action scenes and vehicles doing stuff they are not supposed to do including a boat driving down the road. Stone works with his old flame Lola Jackson (Nona Gaye), a car dealer and designer, to procure supped-up vehicles to speed around Washington DC. There are twists and turns and betrayals as Stone teams up with Charlie Mayweather (Sunny Mabrey) to uncover the truth about the recent assassinations. 

The theme of the plot was relevant in 2005 as the Defense Secretary is mad about the President's anti-military actions and becomes prescient again now, though it wouldn't be the President making these decisions in reality. The movie strikes a balance between pro-military badass and anti-Washington Insider, which unfortunately doesn't use the strengths of the triple-X franchise. Gibbons is presumed dead and Stone finds himself alone against the military-industrial complex with a wild conspiracy theory. It also dabbles into gun control but can't send much of a message while glorifying usage.

The original was moderately successful at the box office but the sequel pretty much bombed. The franchise was considered dead after this one unless it could bring back the star, which is the current situation in 2017. The movie is just as fun as the original and Ice Cube is just as good a leading man even if he doesn't have the popularity to save a film.

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