This Week's PCR|
Movie reviews by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
PCR 2002 Home
|MIKE "DEADGUY" SCOTT||NOLAN B. CANOVA|
When American secret agents are being routinely identified and "erased" by
their competition in other countries, it's determined that a new approach is
neccessary to Secret Agent recruiting. They are looking for an "anti-agent"
to perform difficult tasks overseas, but unfortunately, or perhaps
fortunately, the only ones that fit the bill are career criminals, and
X-sport enthusiasts. They must find the tougest, quickest, and smartest guy
they can, to infiltrate a gang for matters of national security.
In comes Vin Diesel's character, essentially the streetwise American equivalent of James Bond, with a triple dose of badass and a thick layering of extreme thrill-seeker. However, he has NO desire to be a secret agent, so they have to get him "involved" in such a way that he'll do what they want. The results could be spectacular.
Ok, so I've always been able to appreciate Vin Diesel ever since I saw him in Pitch Black (BTW- Pitch Black 2 is on its way, according to Vin). The man is graceful and strong, both in presence, and in mannerism. His character is well-played, and interesting to watch. Vin also brought an element of humor to the character that I don't think anyone else could have. Some of his lines during his "training exercises" couldn't have been done as effectively, by anyone else.
None of the film's problems have anything to do with Vin. The film itself IS a James Bond flick, period. Does that make it a homage? Or does that indicate an inability to create something new? It's definitely a rip-off of a few Bond films, but I think it was designed to be intentional by those involved. It didn't affect my veiwing pleasure, or whatever, but I guess some folks will be up in arms about it. There was definitely a Bond homage at the end of the film, which was the traditional time for Bond to "get the girl", and frustrate his superiors by being out of contact for awhile.
The effects were great, and the stunt work was impeccable, if a bit overdone at times. The scale of the stunts were extreme, to say the least; James Bond stunts on steriods. I still found myself catching my breath in my throat though, kinda' funny how that happens, despite the fact that you know it's faked somehow.
Samuel L. Jackson was in here too, as sort of a "last generation's rebellious secret agent" type character. Unfortunately, he isn't as tough as the character was apparently written to be, so it seems like he's reaching a bit in some scenes. He's not real good at roles that require him to do scenes involving the "superior" revelation of the cards he's had hidden up his sleeve. It's almost like watching someone get surprised by something, and they say, "Ah ha! I KNEW you'd do that all along!" It's just sort of empty, and not buyable. It's a shame though, because he's a better actor than that, it just happened to exploit what I perceive as a flaw in his acting ability. (I noticed the same weakness in his Mace Windo roles).
Other than that, Samuel did do a good job of visually keeping the upper hand when dealing with Vin, which is definitely admirable, because most actors that Vin stands face-to-face with have a tendency to look like they're about to become Vin's dinner.
The "love interest" was easy on the eyes, but with a nice toughness, and mercenery attitude that really suited her well. In an interview, she stated that she really like the non-exploitive female role in this film because it was as though the director wanted to move into the 2000's and get away from the buxum deceptive women that used sex to get what they wanted, or offered sex as a means to control them by. She's right, they made her into a nice 3 dimensional character. However, she kinda' tipped her hand in that same interview when she stated that she wished there'd been a love scene with Vin because he was an "excellent kisser.. even better than any of my ex-boyfriends, which will be pissed off to hear about that."
The soundtrack was pretty cool, featuring the stuff I like, including Rammenstein, an Industrial Metal act from Germany. They even showed the band in the movie, which was good for a chuckle from the audience I saw it with. Quite a bit of loud metal music at times, but of course that goes really well with x-sport style action. I'm probably going to end-up buying the soundtrack.
There's talk that a Triple-X part 2 might be coming down the pike later, and Vin's expressed his desire to treat the character as a potential franchise maker ever since being called to do part 1. However, I find it a bit tough to swallow that a famous X-Sport competitor-turned-spy with three X's tattooed on the back of his neck is going to be very hard to miss in his future exploits as a secret agent. It'll be interesting to see what happens with that.
Overall, I'd have to say I REALLY enjoyed it, and that it's worth 3 and a half stars (one for each X, and a half star to grow on).
For all the talk about "Triple-X" being a James Bond-like film, I confess I don't really see that. Oh, there are superficial trappings, don't get me wrong. The high-level action and over-the-top-stunts are something to be reckoned with to be sure.
But Triple-X needs a new category:absolutely, ridiculously-over-the-top action. It's like a cartoon of James Bond films--which is itself a cartoon of spy dramas.
Vin Diesel (Fast and the Furious) plays Xander Cage, an extreme sports enthusiast and athlete with a large cult following. He's regarded by his fans as a dangerous rebel who would never sell out. In one of his latest stunts, he steals a politician's Corvette with the sole intention of getting the media to focus their attention on the Senator's shenanigans. In the course of this stunt, Cage drives the car off a bridge, but leaps off in a nick of time, parachuting to freedom into the arms of his waiting comrades below.
In the celebration that follows, Cage's party is raided by a secret government agency whose aim is to recruit Cage as a seret agent, because he's the biggest, baddest, in-yo-face-mutha, yada yada, yada. (Seems I remember liking this before---when it was called Escape from New York, and the badass involved was Snake Plissken. But, hey, what do I know?)
Samuel L. Jackson plays gov't agent Augustus Gibbons, Cage's chief tormentor and eventually, boss. Basically, a sort of Russian underground is suspected of harboring a doomsday weapon, but nobody can get close enough to them to find out anything. Gibbons offers Xander Cage the opportunity to clear a certain life sentence if he'll do him this "one small favor."
Marton Csokas is appropriately menacing as the Russian renegade. His cold-blooded aspirations and eventual messianic ravings suit the actor well.
As far as daughters of famous directors in their first film, Asia Argento (offspring of legendary horror director Dario Argento), made a better showing than the unfortunate Sophia Coppola in Godfather 3 (OK, OK, it's Asia's first American film---I was just taking an easy shot at Coppola.) She's beautiful, sexy, smart, and believable in a 3D role. Probably the only 3D role in the movie.
I don't want to give anything way (I mean, the movie's so cleverly scripted and all), but I must describe just a few ridiculously-improbable action stunt scenes.
It takes a heavy-duty CGI-effects company to handle chores of this magnitude, and Digital Domain and a few others were definitely up to the challenge.
The heavy-metal music soundtrack was well done and infectious. In an already loud and noisy movie it was right at home.
I confess I never saw The Fast and the Furious, the previous Rob Cohen/Vin Diesel action vehicle. But I suspect if you liked that, you'll love this. I, however, was less-than-thrilled with XXX, and I'm going to be the bad guy and dock Diesel and Company points for making a poor-man's James Bond-on-amphetamines. Four stars for action. Zero for script, believability, and, for whatever it counts, derivation. I'll throw in a half-star for Asia Argento, which rounds out the whole to two-and-a-half stars.