Movie Reviews
12:37 pm
Sat August 10, 2002

XXX

"Filmmakers now realize that action doesn't have to be dumb. . . .

Skip your visit to the therapist this week--"XXX" will allow you to disengage both left and right sides of your brain to enter a euphoric state where movie formula is the only guiding principle. But the new hero, as Rick Lyman says, "reflects the young audience's romantic image of itself-general indifference to authority mixed with contempt for conformity" personifying the "multi-ethnic, multicultural face of current youth culture." Similarly, Revolution Studios claims its hero, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), is "a new breed of secret agent," "a guy who every culture has adopted as its own."

Vin Diesel of "Fast and Furious" becomes an American secret agent fighting a Euro-Trash world with a very bad techno-Czech, his very nice Russian spy girlfriend, and a group of thugs last seen in "Mad Max." James Bond references abound from the fully loaded car to the fully loaded bimbos. It can't, however, duplicate Bond's classic cynicism or Ahnold's memorable self-deprecation. Derivative it is while satirical it would like to be. It just doesn't have the acting or script chops.

The visuals and pyrotechnics are stock but always fascinating, especially a spectacular parachute escape out of a car plummeting from a bridge. The charming shots of Prague are a fitting tribute to most American films set in foreign countries, especially the Bond franchise, whose location scouts are experts of the first order.

XXX, directed by Rob Cohen, is a suitable film for undemanding teens and adults who watch popular culture develop a new hero. I hope Lyman is right when he says about adventure films, "Filmmakers now realize that action doesn't have to be dumb. . . . So a whole thing lies ahead, which is really going to be the maturing of this entire genre, whoever the stars are going to be." The filmmakers are not quite over the "dumb" part.