Wait, I just looked this up. The movie's actually titled 'xXx.' Did anybody out there know that? SEMANTICS, I say.
Here's a beauty shot of Vin Diesel, star of 'xXx'. Yep, that's him inside the Iron Giant. Vin Diesel can make a movie about an internet action star (giggle) infiltrating an Eastern Bloc gang of anarchists (tee hee) and I'll still cut him slack, because Iron Giant. 'The Iron Giant' trumps everything. If you don't cry during The Iron Giant, then you deserve to be eaten and then puked out and then eaten again by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Do we understand each other?
The late nineties-to-early aughts were great for cookie-cutter action movies with lots of pyro, terrible visual effects, slipshod acting, limp humor and misogynistic and homophobic characters. And 'xXx' is no exception! The whole premise here was obviously to try and pimp Diesel out as a bitchin' sexay Bond-esque action hero for the new millenium (snork), which didn't really work according to plan; I guess people only want to see him as a thug or an alien serial killer. Sorry, dude. Hope the threequel of this movie you're working on right now comes out great.
OK, now let's discuss what makes this cinematic gem work so magnificently. We know from the opening that it is going to be BOSS, because shots of Prague are set to music by the German techno band Autobahn! HARDCORE!
Right away we see a lot of punk people being punk, like the Elf King from 'Fellowship of the Ring' and a dude in a parka with a hipster mustache who looks like the fifth Son of Mumford. There is some shady secret agent shit happening, but it's unclear what it's all about, because this movie is badly written. Fast forward to Washington D.C., where Director Nick Fury, badly scarred and with one blue eye because HARDCORE, is about to explain to us why the current agents for the NSA suck balls. Wow, I didn't realize how timely this film was going to be!
Rather than asking the Avengers to assemble, which would be the easy way to deal with this problem, Nick Fury thinks a better idea would be to hire criminals to handle the U.S. government's secrets. Ha ha, another timely joke which remains funny over ten years later! Top of the list is Xander Cage. Here's how we meet him. An uppity senator thinks Xander is a valet at a country club (because he doesn't see the rad xXx inked on the back of his neck, like we're going to see in close up approximately 69,897 times before the end of the movie) and hands over the keys to his new Vette. What is this, 1985? The production couldn't get a Lotus or something?
Xander gets with a bunch of hooligans, i.e. pro skateboarders who somebody in casting thought could 'act', and films a PSA for the internet where he extols the educational benefits of gaming (or, as it was referred to in 2002, "the video games") while driving the Corvette off a bridge. This is called 'entering the Xander Zone,' and, as you guys all know, anything which refers to a 'zone' is made of win in my book!
At his victory party, hosted by his overworked manager Eve (she has an underground website to run and a lot of tapes to make - Jesus, she needs an assistant), the NSA nabs him. Xander, thinking it's about his PSA, questions the NSA's tactics, saying, "It was only a Corvette!" He's right. Seriously, who gives a shit about a Corvette, unless it's this one?
Xander is then given a test by Nick Fury, which he passes with flying colors, of course, and schools Fury on how to test prospective agents, because he knows more about it from his vast experience. He gets knocked out and wakes up with a bunch of different hooligans in a cargo plane, where he starts making quips (FUCK I love quips!) which sound like they were written by a third grader. All the hooligans get chucked out the back of the plane into a Colombian coca field owned by Machete, but Xander enjoys it, because he lives for this shit! He better watch it, though, because Machete doesn't like quips.
Look, you had the option of a picture of Machete with demon makeup on, or a picture of Salma doing her snake dance. You're welcome.
Xander aquits himself by doing some stunts and helping a fellow hooligan out, but he tells Nick Fury to kiss his ass, Scarface, which makes him look cool, because bullying people with physical scarring is awesome. Nick Fury says he can either go to Leavenworth or to Prague. Choices, choices! On the plane, Xander reviews some oddly glamorous-looking files from the NSA about Anarchy 99, the gang he's being sent to infiltrate, which has the most hilariously non-threatening name in the history of gang names. When he gets off the plane, the vaguely Gypsy-sounding music tells us he decided to go to Prague, not Leavenworth. Xander gets to work right away in an enormous coat, which was a savvy move on the part of the costume designer, seeing as Vin Diesel appears about as threatening as a Boston terrier. Some super-awkward flirting happens with Asia Argento and then one of the anarchists brings some hookers to the party by ejaculating, "Bitches come!", which is clearly an homage to Robocop.
Before we get too much deeper into the complex machinations of this movie, I wanted to show you Xander's big coat. Here he is in the coat, sunglasses, and underwear, in another obvious homage that I'll spare you:
I kind of can't, with the coat. He goes from wearing Motocross pants to wearing that coat?
OK, back to it. Xander gets his own Q, a bland young actor who definitely doesn't look nerdy enough to play the part, although he lets us know "I got a degree from MIT, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum loddie (sic)." He's designed some binoculars that allow Xander to look through the clothing of a hot agent, who doesn't seem to mind being ogled through something called 'the Penetrator.' Again, is this 1985? Xander does a stolen car deal with the Elf King, topped off with a bonus car, a '67 Pontiac GTO which feels like something Vin Diesel asked for after having done that car movie (which is so fucking superior to this movie it's ridiculous, plus it has boiled tofu appetizer Paul Walker in it!). He gets invited into Anarchy 99 (snicker) and goes to a club decorated with Tesla coils, because Tesla coils are punk, where people are kind of standing around while all the lights are on. Asia Argento awkwardly makes out with him - and, when I say awkward, I ain't kidding, it looks like two snails fighting - and then everyone goes to a big ol' mansion, where Xander sings 'America the Beautiful' before hitting it with a stripper who does a stripper dance for what feels like 45 minutes.
But Xander doesn't love the stripper, he loves Asia Argento, enough to take her out for a salad for lunch. They have matching coats, after all. Their date ends poorly, as he tells her he's a secret agent (tee hee) before having to bust out of the restaurant by using a waiter's tray for cover while he gets shot at. Because he's a hooligan, he also does this with the tray:
As Senator Clay Davis would say,
Christ, I'm becoming one of those people who uses a meme instead of actually writing something. Sheeeeeeeiiiit, indeed!
So Nick Fury checks in on Xander at an opera rehearsal. People like Xander think opera is horrible and people like Nick Fury think opera is awesome, and this is why this part of the movie is funny. Xander takes it upon himself to help Asia Argento and some scientists, which feels a little 'Top Secret' to me, but that's OK - I think it works in the movie's favor. Maybe one of the scientists is Asia Argento's dad? At this point her character feels about as valuable as a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory, after all. (Note my restraint in not posting the entire 'Top Secret' movie here) The Elf King laughs evilly while he kills all the scientists, who have built him what looks like a weaponized version of Luke Skywalker's land speeder that releases a gas called Silent Night (ha ha). So, Xander pretty much fucked that up, but he makes a getaway on a motorbike by doing a dope stunt (frankly, whoever the guy is doing the motorcycle stunts in this movie is a fucking master) and killing the Elf King's brother. HARDCORE VENGEANCE IMMINENT. First, though, Asia Argento shows up and finds the time (which she didn't have before, of her own admittance, even though she and Xander were having a leisurely salad luncheon) to tell him she's also a secret agent for the FSB. Bozhe moi! If she's a badass Russian spy, can't she handle all this shit herself? She doesn't need a dude who makes skateboard videos for the internet to help her out.
Now it's time to Get It Together (TM). The hot agent from earlier apparently didn't mind being ogled with the Penetrator after all, because she offers to pilot a plane for Xander so his stunt double can do some more awesome shit (like jump out of it) while Autobahn plays. He gets caught, though, and the Elf King is really mad that all of these people he thought were his pals are actually secret agents. He probably should have stayed out of this movie, then! When the Czech police show up the Elf King releases the land speeder into the river, where it zips away like this:
WAH HA HA HA HA.
Q has turned Xander's GTO into a Bondmobile, which is useful for blowing up wagons full of potatoes as they chase Silent but Deadly. Xander manages to parachute himself onto it, which is the closest that guy's ever going to get to 'Star Wars', and pulls a Schwarzenegger by yelling "Welcome to the Xander Zone!" just as he saves the city of Prague from being poisoned by farts. While everyone thinks he's dead, Nick Fury tells Asia Argento he'll grant her asylum AND citizenship. Her reply? "It doesn't really matter now, does it." Wait - are you fucking kidding me? So you don't want asylum and citizenship, but you'll grudgingly take it anyhow? Wow, I am genuinely endeared to this character. Luckily, Xander isn't dead, and not only does Asia Argento get everything she doesn't really want, but she gets a vacation in Bora Bora. After telling Xander that in order to "pass spy school" she had to hold her breath underwater for 2 minutes, they go swimming, although it sounded to me like Xander wanted her to hold it for 3 minutes, as that's how long it takes him to have sex.
I want to remind you guys that although I sound REALLY mean about all of this, I love this movie and all other movies of this ilk. And when I say 'love,' I mean love like Derek Zoolander means 'brother.' Just so we're all clear.
I have also decided to initiate a ratings system for the movies I discuss. There is only one rating, which I guess doesn't really make it a system, and it's this:
Two Nickelback thumbs-up for 'xXx'!