A Very xXx Christmas

Before every Christmas, a friend raids the $5 bin at Wal-Mart and distributes the discovered dollar movies on Christmas Eve. This year I received “xXx”, the 2002 xXxtreme sports Vin Diesel vehicle.

Diesel at the Playstation Cafe, enjoying a cup of steaming Red Bull.

Diesel enjoys a steaming cup of Red Bull.

Diesel plays Xander Cage, an xXxtreme sports celebrity who hosts a television show documenting his kewl stunts. Cage’s introduction establishes the film’s marketing strategy (it is made for pubescent mountain-dew chuggers across 2002 America). He steals a corvette from a state senator, Dick Hotchkiss, and drives it over a bridge to protest the senator’s attempts to ban rap music (“It’s music, Dick!”) and video games (“Come on, Dick. It’s the only education we got!”) because they promote violence and dumbness, respectively. Got ‘im! Apparently, this is what riled up the 12-year olds and xXxtreme sports enthusiasts across America more than anything else.

The film acts as a curious time capsule. It is only 13 years old, but in some ways feels so distant that it is no different than the dollar films of the 80s. You can thank the xXxtreme sports elements as well as the heavy rock soundtrack, both of which reached their zeniths in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and both of which have thankfully returned to their subculture statuses.

“xXx” follows Cage as he is threatened by Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) into turning spy for the National Security Agency. Cage is required to infiltrate a group of ex-Russian soldiers known as Anarchy 99 which is building biological weapons in Prague. He must befriend but ultimately defeat the homicidal maniac Yorgi (played by a greasy Martin Csokas – do central European baddies ever NOT have greasy long hair?), and befriend and ultimately sleep with the sullen Yelena (Asia Argento, who looks like she’s on her own product the first half of the film).

Though cultural aspects of the film have not aged well, the action sequences are great, and will make you stall your eye rolling. They are big, brash and goofy. And fun. The early raid by the Colombian army into a drug-smuggling operation was an exXxcellent set-piece, reminiscent of 80s Stallone flicks. It had many giant explosions, helicopters strafing the ground ad nauseum, and, in a taste of things to come, some fancy dirt bike action. Later sequences were just as impressive, including a snowboard vs. snowmobile showdown that became a Xander-induced avalanche massacre.

Xander Cage is a James Bond for the Monster age, and “xXx” has no shortage of outlandish gadgets, set-pieces and props. For example, the comically large buttoned control panel Yergi uses to control his solar-powered submarine, or the binoculars which see through clothes. Even the villains voice the oft-repeated mistake of Bond baddies: “Catch him fast, kill him slow.”

There is not a whole lot to recommend beyond the action sequences, but those come fast and furious, as befits director Rob Cohen’s style, so you wouldn’t have been too bothered paying $1.50 for this flick. Put on some Mushroomhead and chug a few NRG drinxXx to get in the mood.

3 comments for “A Very xXx Christmas

  1. King
    December 31, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    The review reads better than the view of the movie.

  2. Tony
    January 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    binoculars that see through clothes, that’s actually too childish even for James Bond…unless Vin said a witty double-entendre as he held them

    • Dan
      January 3, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      He said something like “I’ll hold onto these.”

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