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xXx2: The Next Level (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Filmmaker's commentary. VFX commentary. Deleted scenes with optional commentary. Making of documentary. Featurettes. Multi-angle featurette.

ICE Cube steps into the shoes vacated by Vin Diesel for this tedious action sequel that becomes increasingly more stupid the longer it goes on.

He stars as Darius Stone, a former Special Forces operative, now serving time for assaulting a superior, who is called back into action in order to thwart a plan to overthrow the US President by the Secretary of State (Willem Dafoe).

Lining up for the good guys, therefore, are a bunch of petty thieves and home-boys, while the men in suits around them threaten to plunge the country into chaos.

The best thing about xXx2 is that it knows its fairly trashy, seldom pausing to offer any logic in between the multitude of gun battles and explosions.

But that doesn't excuse the film entirely, given the poor quality of most of the action sequences, the unsuitability of its leading man and the overall tediousness of proceedings.

Former James Bond director, Lee Tamahori, proves that the bodge-job he made of the final action sequences in Die Another Day was no fluke by peppering xXx2 with CGI-heavy effects that simply don't look realistic.

While his obvious use of stunt doubles does Ice Cube no favours in cutting a credible action hero - merely serving to emphasise his unsuitability of the role.

Cube can be a fairly charismatic performer given the right material, but here seems content to snarl his way around the debris in between quoting Tupac and trading poor one-liners with his superiors.

Yet none of the central performers are particularly well-served by the material, with Samuel L Jackson simply on auto-pilot as Stone's superior, and Dafoe content to churn out another of his bog-standard villain roles.

Only Scott Speedman emerges with any credit, delivering the type of performance that suggests he might have been better suited to playing 'the new xXx'.

The film also suffers by comparison with the likes of James Bond (to which it clearly aspires to) and The Bourne Supremacy, which is the new standard-bearer for this sort of thing.

Had The Next Level opted for a higher certificate, so as to emphasise the extreme nature of proceedings, or decided to reign in the special effects, it might have fared better.

But as things stand, xXx2 is quite simply X-cruciatingly bad.

 

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