xXx (2002) Director: Rob Cohen - a jpoc movie review
James Bond for the playstation generation.
Main Cast
Vin Diesel Xander Cage
Asia Argento Yelena
Marton Csokas Yorgi
Samuel L. Jackson Agent Augustus Gibbons
Michael Roof Agent Toby Lee Shavers
Rating and viewing notes
Five out of ten. - None of the theatres near me was showing this in English when it was on release so I had to wait for the DVD.
The jpoc review
James Bond movies follow a well tried and well defined pattern. Start with the hero performing in an awe inspiring action stunt, establish the plot outline with a meeting with the boss and then get stuck into the action. Early on in the main sequence, the hero will encounter a beautiful foreign agent whom he must win round if he is to complete the mission. The mission of course involves an evil mastermind who has some sort of doomsday machine designed to destroy or subjugate the entire world. Finally, the bad guy unleashes his machine and it is up to the hero to wipe out the bad guy, destroy the evil machine and take the girl off to some exotic location where he can pointedly ignore calls from his boss who wants him to start on the next mission.

Well, that is exactly what you get here. The hero, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is an American extreme sports personality, the Bond movie M character is Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) and Q is Agent Toby Lee Shavers (Michael Roof) who plays the character more like Radar from MASH than anything from the real Bond movies. The beautiful foreign agent is Yelena (Asia Argento) who is the only charater to rise above the standard Bond fare. The bad guys, led by Yorgi (Marton Csokas) are ex-Russian military and they have obtained a bio-chemical weapon and delivery system that can wipe out the populations of a number of cities.

The action stunts are indeed cool - even innovative - and they define this movie. The locations are sumptuous too, actually, Prague is the kind of city that looks great from almost any viewpoint so that was a natch - a cameo from German uber-pyro-punks Rammstein hardly goes amiss either. Everything is kept moving along with a snappy script and with enough gags to provide levity without breaking the suspense of the action.

All in all, this movie had all of the technical ingredients needed to reach perfection in the action-escapism genre. All that it required then was slick direction and decent - not great - acting and it got those too! Vin Diesel was pretty much made for this type of part. Think of Clint Eastwood just settling in to the spaghetti western hero with no name and you will get some feel for how Diesel just slid into this role. Marton Csokas as Jorgi, the headman of the bad guys does not do a lot in the way of characterisation but just like Diesel he seems born to the part. Asia Argento as Yelena the beautiful Russian spy tops this list. She is the only character who has any real range of roles to play from the ice cold bad girl to the vulnerable woman who is stricken when it appears that Cage has died saving the world. Indeed, it is a bit of a surprise to see such good acting in this type of movie but then AA is a pretty mean treader of the boards.

Is it a great movie? Is it a plausible story? No but as an escapist rush of adrenaline, this is about as good as it gets and it is a sure winner for Bond fans. If you enjoy it then just about any of the post 1970 Bond movies is worth a go.