Franchise Recap: XXX

That there’s another film in the XXX franchise shows me that if Hollywood hasn’t yet raced the bottom of the barrel, then it’s not got long to go. Because how else to you explain making a sequel to a film that was released in 2005,  making a mere 87 million dollars on on a budget of 71 million? Throw in the fact that this will also mark the first film produced by Revolution Studios in nine years since 2007’s The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (Budget 40 million, Takings 103 million, 74% on Rotten Tomatoes) and you might see why i’m struggling to understand this movies existence.

But before we review that which is yet to be, let us cast our eye over that which was.

The first film in this franchise (imaginatively titled XXX) Was nothing more than an attempt to reclaim the spy genre from that pesky tuxedo wearing Brit. It seems laughable now- but at the time (This film was released the same year as Die Another Day- A film so bad it almost killed James Bond once and for all.) It was a strong possibility.

And the film wasn’t subtle- not about this or anything else. Literally in the first scene, a tuxedo wearing spy is executed and the film carries on from there with barely a pause for breath.

The trouble is, from that point on the film follows the James Bond formula beat for beat. Make it slightly more over the top and it would have actually made a pretty good parody.

I mean, I will give the film this- it does have a lot of lovely practical stunts. Everything from avalanches to motocross stunts to car chases. Sadly though, this dedication to practical effects cost the life of stunt player Harry O’Connor was killed when he hit a pillar of the Palacky Bridge in Prague, para-sailing during one of the actions scenes. The accident occurred while filming the second take of the stunt; O’Connor’s first attempt was completed without incident and can be seen in the completed film.

Unfortunately, what goodwill the film generates with it’s practical effects and casting of Samual L. Jackson as a one eyed man leading a team to help save the world, turns lukewarm with the reveal of Vin Diesel as what a group of middle age executives think a man who rebels against the system acts like and then starts to turn negative when people start talking. It then falls apart completely when the villain reveals his ‘master plan’ with about 15 major plot holes.

Who knew anarchists followed their leader without question and at all times?

But at the end of the day, XXX is a pretty harmless if nothing else film. If your inner twelve year old hasn’t been let out for a while, there are worse films out there to watch. Like say the sequel XXX:State Of The Union.

Which did not star Vin Diesel because he was busy making that comedic classic The Pacifier (20% on Rotten Tomatoes, $198.6 million on a budget of 56 million, sequel in the works) Director Rob Cohen was also busy making Stealth (13% on Rotten Tomatoes, $76.9 million on a budget of $135 million dollars, one of the biggest bombs in film history).

Therefore, the studio brought in Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori and Rapper/Actor Ice Cube who was at the time attempting to become an action star (he now makes unwatchable ‘comedies.’)

The franchise also changed direction as well. Where XXX was a Bond rip off/parody this is just a complete and utter mess. The plot could work, Jackson back playing NOT Nick Fury recruits former special ops soldier Darius Stone to stop Stone’s former commander from overthrowing the US government. Simple enough, lots of scope for stealth and action scenes, hell they even managed to get William Defoe on board! (Although this was one of his non-acting films, he mostly seems to be ensuring he keeps up with his 5 sets a day diet.)

Where the original felt like it was written by a twelve year old who thought adults only communicated in one liners this film feels like it was written by a horny thirteen year old who has mistaken racism for comedy. The writing here is below Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

Also,  Lee Tamahori’s taste for using bad CGI instead of something as quaint as a practical effect is here given free range. It’s everywhere and awful. Worse, whenever a practical effect does somehow manage to sneak in it’s poorly placed, edited with several very, very obvious stunt doubles in place of Mr Cube who spends the entire film verging on the spherical.

Similarly, where the plot holes in XXX are endemic to the whole genre, bad guys who can’t shoot straight etc, here there are just massive, incredible, plot-holes that even my 18 year old self could see.

Oh and it sequel baited at the end.

XXX:State of the Union is a FIRE movie not to be seen under any circumstances unless your the Nostalgia Critic looking for new material.

But, with Vin Diesels star riding high on the back of the Fast and Furious/ Riddick/   franchises and despite the mediocre response to the blasphemous Point Break remake someone has decided to resurrect the franchise because we need a film that has been in development hell since 2006 and is being released against Underworld:My God Not Another One. In the dead-zone of January. Still at lease Samuel L. Jackson is in it.

 

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