State of the Union
Every action film has its flaws. From implausible plotlines
to against all odds escapes in the heat of battle, heroes
prevail in films such as these when they should, under any
realistic plausibility, die excruciatingly painful deaths.
On the other hand, maybe in a realistic setting said heroes
would never even find themselves in such situations because
such scenarios simply do not exist most of the time.
said, realism has little to do with why we go to see films
such as xXx: State of the Nation. We pay for spectacle
induced entertainment, but this doesn’t mean we want
a film completely devoid of spotted intellect or insight
in between explosive action pieces either.
we have a sequel to a film that some loved and others hated.
It’s a film that by all intents and purposes should
fail miserably on all accounts, yet manages to do quite
the opposite. Yes, prepare to be shocked, but you could
do a lot worse than xXx: State of the Union when
it comes to blockbuster action spectacle. I’m as surprised
as you are.
plot smacks of the usual routine. An unlikely hero named
Darius Stone (Ice Cube) is recruited to become the next
xXx agent by Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel Jackson) when
masked assassins infiltrate the xXx headquarters. Gibbons
manages to escape and decides to enlist Stone, a former
Navy Seal who served under Gibbons during Desert Storm.
One thing stands in the way, Stone is serving a prison sentence
for his acts of defiance in regards to direct orders from
his commanding officer, George Deckert (Willem Dafoe).
one’s surprise, Deckert’s commands placed innocent
lives in danger to serve his own political agenda. Gibbons
suffered severe burns rescuing innocents from the wreckage
while Stone punched out his commanding officer, who has
since become the U.S. Secretary of Defense. You can just
smell all of this coming together right? Neatly intertwined
subplots, all of which point to Government conspiracies
and other political coups that cause our hero to have to
jump from vehicles at high speeds all while exploding stuff
makes this potentially run of the mill disaster in waiting
words: Ice Cube.
sort of. It begins with Cube, and the vibe is carried on
throughout the film by the rest of the cast. Jackson is,
as always, enjoyably curt and cool in his role. Nona Gaye
shows up as Lola, a woman from the streets who has worked
her way up from a chop-shop to her own restoration business
catering to rich men with rich taste.
only sore thumb in the group is a carryover from the first
dismal film, an Agent Toby Lee Shavers (Michael Roof). Sigh
inducing at every turn he should have suffered the same
off-screen fate in Bora Bora as Vin Diesel’s xXx,
the little touches that make the film workable, but this
isn’t to say that the film is flawless. Not by a long
shot. In fact, it seems to wear its flaws on its sleeve
in exchange for inserting a subtly constructed political
message, yet never crosses the line into outright parody.
The idea of a full-tilt action film with a cast comprising
of nearly entirely African-Americans is profound, and the
closing sequences depicting an, albeit outlandish, assault
on Washington D.C. have a distinct feel that can’t
help but aid the political undertones strewn throughout
a film that incorporates a predominately ethnic cast in
preventing a plot in which the lives of countless enlisted
Americans hangs in the balance by a proposed Military Bill
that will be introduced in a State of the Union Address
by the President. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing
jaw-droppingly profound about this movie, but there is enough
to keep you thinking, at least a little bit, in between
all of the explosions.