Bodies and Tough ’Tudes
you saw the Apollo’s marquee this week you might have been
fooled about what was actually playing. No, XXX is not the name
of a cheap flick you wouldn’t want to see with your mother;
it is the name of the high impact action film starring newcomer
Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson.
Diesel is Xander ‘XXX’ Cage, an Internet daredevil who
exposes politicians in their attempts to stifle free speech, video
games and hard rock. CIA agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson)
selects Xander for a special mission and effectively throws him
the choice of cooperation or imprisonment. Xander, who loves his
freedom too much to go to jail, sets out to infiltrate a dangerous
Czechoslovakian gang called Anarchy 99, which may be manufacturing
biological weapons. It is Xander’s job to stop them —
Diesel jumps out of planes, snowboards down crumbling snowy mountains,
soars across fiery skies on a motorcycle and does it all with a
distinctly American attitude. XXX is not your typical action flick
with a throwaway plot. There isn’t one minute of this movie
that allows for distraction. Diesel is always doing something on
screen that recalls Batman comic books or James Bond movies. His
hard body is smeared with tattoos and often covered in a stylish
fur coat. He definitely looks like someone who could save democracy.
Director Robert Cohen has an eye for suspenseful shots. The striking
angles and the digital effects, always key in any action movie,
are incredibly believable throughout the film. They don’t
have the over-polished look of most blue screen or computerized
shots (remember Spiderman earlier this year?).
If you liked The Fast and the Furious you will be sure to love XXX.
They share many elements. Diesel, like the good guy in The Fast
and the Furious, begins as a green outsider who is eventually accepted
into the group (in this case a Czech gang) because of his skill
and charm. XXX also features cars that are out of this world. Diesel
speeds to the rescue in a GTO that is more equipped than the Batmobile.
Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson’s lyrical lines sing with the
perfect tone of authority. The viewer is immediately reminded of
Pulp Fiction because of Jackson’s voice and dynamic acting
ability. He is a shrouded authority that soon becomes a father figure
XXX has some of the typical dry dialogue characteristic of action
films, but it brings out issues like American patriotism and biological
warfare, both of which are very current. Needless to say, though
elements of this film may make political eyes roll, it does provide
insight into what sentiments the American media is promoting when
it comes to heroes, patriotism and acceptable forms of masculinity.
Throughout the movie, U.S. democracy always reigns supreme and everybody
everywhere wants to be American. XXX offers an opportunity for deconstructing
some of the myths of patriotism and machismo, while bringing the
fun of viewing Vin Diesel in action to the fullest degree.