...when I lay my VENGEANCE upon thee!
Samuel L. Jackson's been trying to make fetch happen ever since 'Pulp Fiction.' It's cool, dude. We like you just for who you are. You don't have to be Jules in every single movie you do. Except, of course, in the 'xXx' movies, where we get the feeling you were auditioning for Nick Fury by playing Jules. Amirite?
You guys may recall my deep affinity for 'xXx,' an action film so asinine I briefly considered renaming the Danger Zone the 'Xander Zone.' It would take a lot to trump the one-two punch of Archer and Maverick, but Vin Diesel's totally believable secret agent hooligan who stars in an underground website nearly did it. However, after he realized he was an enormous celebrity who didn't need to make a sequel and instead needed to spend all his time and money convincing Hollywood to a)let him star in 'Star Wars', b)feign slumming in the 'Fast and Furious' movies, and c)let him star in his vanity project about Hannibal, the producers needed someone else to fill his GIANT shoes in 'xXx: State of the Union' (urk). Who might that be, you ask?
Jesus, Ice. You were in NWA and you played Doughboy. Come ON, guy. Well...far be it from me to speak against someone who probably has $50,000 monthly mortgage payments; sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
So Netflix just did its changeover, where the Instant Gods yank a bunch of faves and throw new ones up. As I am perpetually trolling for shit action movies and didn't see it before, I'm assuming 'xXx (you like how I now know how to spell that correctly?): State of the Union' came out of the new slush pile. Praise!
We begin at a bucolic horse farm, where right away a murder of ninjas appear and whip out a bunch of ludicrous gizmos that explode tunnels into the ground (that is a poor description of what happens, but take my word for it). Under the horse farm is a high-tech bunker similar to the high-tech bunkers found in the following:
1. Left Behind: The Kirk Cameron Story About Jesus and Other Things
2. X-Mens 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
3. The West Wing
...and so on. Nick Fury is down there, his face magically unscarred and his Villainous Blue Eye (TM stupid movies) magically brown, and there's a shootout between the ninjas and a bunch of NSA office workers. Although the NSA office workers give it the ol' college try, they are all annihilated, while Nick Fury grabs that bowl of cream of wheat version of Q and escapes in this, the stealthiest vehicle he could find in his underground high-tech bunker:
He uses its rocket launchers to stealthily blast his way through a flimsily-constructed barn and stealthily drive off, musing aloud about needing a new xXx (because the old one is too busy lunching at Mantilini's). The new xXx can't be a skater or a snowboarder, Nick Fury says, but he DOES need to have "more attitude." The idea of "more attitude" is efficiently described by the images in the opening credits, which tell us that Ice Cube's xXx has "more attitude" because:
1. Jail bars
2. Helicopters flying through explosions
3. A computer hard drive
4. The American flag
Bring it! Now, Tan President of America is concerned about all those NSA guys who got ninja'd. Willem Dafoe, his Secretary of Defense, also seems concerned, but because he's Willem Dafoe, we believe that for about one nanosecond. That guy played with leeches and tried to kill Spiderman! Tan President gives us the timeline for the movie when he says something about the military shaping up or he's going to make fun of it in his State of the Union address THIS WEEK. OK! So now we know we have 1 week for Ice Cube to get out of jail, learn to be suave, learn about all the advancements in technology that have happened in the 9 years he's been locked up, kick everyone's ass, and save America.
Ice escapes from jail at Nick Fury's urging with an ease that begs the question: why didn't he try this before? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, SCOTT SPEEDMAN BEN COVINGTON DELICIOUS is informed that "Xander Cage was killed in Bora Bora last night." Since we know what Xander was doing in Bora Bora - holding his breath underwater for 3 minutes while having sex with Asia Argento - we must assume that he was killed by a shark, while having said sex. To refresh your memory:
Ben isn't pouring a 40 out for Xander Cage; clearly everyone's pissed that Vin Diesel bailed on this movie. Instead, he says a bunch of NSA words about spying on Nick Fury. Careful, Ben! Nick Fury will CUT A BITCH if provoked, and you are Canadian, after all. Just...watch your 6.
Ice Cube, feeling fat and sassy after a plate of fries and a shake, throws some of that "attitude" around, reminding Nick Fury that he's actually way more terrifying a human being despite having made 'Are We There Yet?' He takes Nick Fury and Q to lie low in Hamsterdam, at the chop shop where he used to work. In a gruesome marketing ploy, the guy who runs the shop is Xzibit, but Ice will only be satisfied with the top dog, played by Marvin Gaye's daughter in a wig and a suit from the Frederick's of Hollywood Career Chic Collection. They collude to, I dunno, find some information and stuff, while Q builds a rocket launcher in an hour that Ice uses to blow up a car at the horse farm. Ben Covington chases after Ice (an aside: the high-tech underground bunker is plastered with the 'xXx' logo. Is that the logo for the NSA? Or was that entire bunker built in hopes that Xander Cage would come back from Bora Bora uneaten by a shark?), and, being Canadian, you'd think he'd be more skilled than a guy from Compton at running through the woods, but Ice gets away. Q, however, gets caught, and Ice saves him by doing which of the following?
1. Riding a shark on a silver serving tray
2. Riding a boat up onto a bridge
3. Riding one of the horses from the horse farm and picking Q up like Legolas picking up Gimli
Yep, you guessed it! Not the Legolas one.
Nick Fury sneaks home to get some of that information and stuff, where evil Willem Dafoe traps him and BLOWS HIS HOUSE UP WITH HIM INSIDE!?
We never see a body, so I'm skeptical. What do you guys think? Tomfoolery?
Ice is on the case, meaning he has to put on a sharp suit and act suave in front of a hot blonde lady who was purportedly in cahoots with Nick Fury. After an uproarious scene where Ice pretends to be the Reverend Al Sharpton to fool a guy from the NRA, the hot blonde lady and Ice work a fancy dress party hosted by Willem Dafoe and a bunch of other hot blonde ladies playing electric violins. I mean, seriously: the hot blonde ladies playing violins get an equal amount of screen time to Ice Cube during this scene. What, was director Lee Tamahori enamored with the dulcet Autotuned sounds of their savaging of the overture from 'The Barber of Seville'?
Original Flavor hot blonde lady brings Ice home, wafts the scent of her vagina at him to soothe him, and then sets him up to get captured, because...
Because Ben Covington is Canadian, he goes unarmed into the Original Flavor hot blonde lady's house to try and reason with Ice. After some expository dialogue I wasn't paying attention to, Ice takes care of business by microwaving a bunch of meat (Jesus, there's more meat in her freezer than in my own! NOT A EUPHEMISM) to fool the ninja heat sensors and sneak out of the house dressed in one of the ninja costumes. Ice's ragtag team realizes they have to hack into the Department of Defense, which is no problem for Q; you might recall he graduated magna cum loddie, Phi Beta Kappa, from MIT. Meanwhile, Ice and Gaye Jr. flirt over an abomination of a Shelby concept car, because, this movie.
Moving on, before things get any more boring than they already are! Ice sneaks on to an aircraft carrier, where he sees OFHBL - dressed for business in one of Gaye Jr's castoffs - with TAA DAAAAA Nick Fury! She's got Nick Fury in lockdown, which makes Ice mad, so he punches her. This gives Nick Fury the opportunity to transmogrify into Jules and yell, "You know you shoulda killed that bitch!" Ice knows, baby. Ice knows.
After stealing a tank, Ice trades quips (YES) with one of his former military buddies, informing him that because he has a big mouth, he's going to be very popular in prison. My assumption is the dialogue infers that the military buddy will be popular because he will have a large mouth to facilitate blow jobs. Amirite?
You guys, the State of the Union is TONIGHT. Hurry up, Ice!?! Ben Covington is getting ready for it by workin' on his fitness in the boxing ring. That guy punches like a girl, and I don't mean a girl like Gina Carano, I mean a girl like a third grader with noodle arms. But that's OK, at least somebody got their shirt off in this movie. After he cleans up, he Deep Throats it in the parking garage (NOT A EUPHEMISM) with Ice, exchanging more expository dialogue about information and stuff. Ben Covington needs convincing, but when he sees the military is setting up some shady shit for the State of the Union, he says, thoughtfully, "World War 4." Whoa! Did you guys know WWIII already happened? Was he referring to that one time that Xander Cage saved the city of Prague from being poisoned by a giant fart machine? Anything's possible in this cinematic universe, I guess.
Ben Covington shows everyone he's not so Canadian after all by subverting authority and joining the ratchet gang back at the chop shop, where he says some car words that, to me, are indistinguishable from the NSA words he said earlier. This proves to Ice that he's on his side, and - I quote - "the cleanest revolution in history" gets revealed as the two guys realize that Willem Dafoe is staging a coup at the State of the Union. WHAT?!?! HOW IZ DIS POSSIBLE WE HAD NO IDEA!!!1!!!?!
Time to bring Xzibit back into it. He needs convincing, so Ice tells him not to aid them out of any patriotic duty, but instead to help them because it will enable him to chop cars "on the same block as the White House." Is he promising Xzibit a government job? Well, SHEEIT! That seems like plenty of incentive!
Willem Dafoe is ready for his coup, using Nick Fury as the fall guy, which should surprise nobody. Xzibit uses a couple of fetch girls to hijack a semi full of weapons, and the guys are ready for bear! As Ice succinctly puts it, "The fate of the free world's in the hands of a bunch of hustlers and thieves." Ben Covington's snappy Canadian comeback: "Why should tonight be any different?"
Ice, Xzibit, Ben Covington and all the hustlers and thieves plow through military blockades to the tune of 'Fight the Power,' which sends a bewildering message. Why I'm looking for a message is beyond me. I'm more concerned that Xzibit seems to be doing all the work at this point, like jacking a tank, while Ice is just along for the ride. Xzibit even gets a catchphrase: "Let's redecorate!" Shouldn't Xzibit get to be a xXx too? Or, at least, he should get some kind of MacArthur Genius Grant for the incredibly advanced auto technology he's developed in about 20 minutes.
Willem Dafoe has Tan President cornered, and there's a boring shootout culminating in Ice freeing Nick Fury. Nick Fury gets to shoot OFHBL, and you know what's coming: "See? I told you you shoulda killed that bitch!" But Willem Dafoe's getting away with Tan President! How on earth, you guys?
1. On a presidential bullet train 3 stories below the Capitol
2. Through a device which folds space-time
3. On a pair of Segways
RIIIIGHT. Luckily for Ice, Gaye Jr brings him that gross Cobra concept car, which at least is fast enough to catch a bullet train. But what would he do with it once he caught it? I'll tell you: he drives the Cobra onto the train tracks, where it fits tidily on the rails, so he can jump onto the train. There's some more boring fighting, during which Ice finally gets HIS own catchphrase ("Hillbilly...you need to lighten up," whilst throwing a Zippo lighter on a bleeding gas line), and Ice and Willem Dafoe fight to the death while Ben Covington actually saves Tan President (which seems pretty goddamned unfair to me). The train blows up, some other things happen, and Ben Covington gets the Congressional Biscuit of Honor from Tan President, who unwittingly quotes Tupac. Ice doesn't seem to mind getting shafted; he's too busy speaking revolting dialogue like this:
Gaye Jr. (about the Cobra): How fast did she go?
Ice: Two-twenty, two-twenty-five. Second best ride of my life!
Extreme close up on: a Sally Beauty press-on tattoo of the 'xXx' logo on the back of Ice's neck!!1/!!!?!