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Length Screen Format(s) Languages Subtitles Sound Sides
101 minutes Letterbox (2.40:1)
16x9 - Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 1


Without any noticeable or at least distracting artifacts, the picture looks good from start to finish. Color reproduction is vibrant without being over-saturated, while blacks are solid and detail is sharp. Like any action flick, the material on the audio tracks is loud and lively. All sorts of sound, spatial and surround effects (gunfire, explosions and much, much more) are present, along with an action score and various rap and other songs, some of which have decent bass kick (as do some of the explosive effects).
  • Scene selection/Jump to any scene.
  • Running commentary by director Lee Tamahori and writer Simon Kinberg.
  • Visual Effects Commentary.
  • From Convict to Hero - The Making of xXx: State of the Union - 48+ minute, 2-part look at the film and its production.
  • Featurettes: Bullet Train Breakdown (5+ minutes), Top Secret Military Warehouse (8+ minutes) and xXx: According to Ice Cub (5+ minutes).
  • 3 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary.
  • Previews for "Stealth," "Legend of Zorro," "The Cave," "Lords of Dogtown," "Hitch," "XXX Director's Cut," "Guess Who," "Steamboy," "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children," "D.E.B.S." "Full Throttle" and "Rescue Mission."
  • DVD-ROM: Various weblinks for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment properties.
    Naming a sequel usually isn't that difficult of a cinematic chore. A numeral higher than 1 (with Roman qualities optional) following the original title will usually suffice, although "Son of," "Return of" or "Revenge of" preceding it also works. For those responsible for the sequel to "XXX" -- the 2002 film that was deemed the Gen X version of the venerable James Bond series -- the task apparently was a bit more difficult.

    A "2" after the prior title might conjure up another film series starring comic book mutants, while the Roman equivalent might make those in the know wonder what the film "32" was really about. Since the title character from the first film didn't have any offspring, the "son" part was clearly out, while a change in casting ruled out the "return" or "revenge" parts. Thus, they opted for a moniker that would clue in the original's fans that another offering was at hand, while clearly labeling the big action set piece that dominates the film.

    Thus we have "XXX: State of the Union," a lame-brained action flick that keeps up the "Bond for the younger set" mantra while giving it a decidedly urban slant and replaces the Extreme Sports material with regular action violence. You see, the predecessor's star, Vin Diesel, apparently -- and now proven correctly -- figured there was box office gold in "them thar babysitting movies" and went off to make "The Pacifier" (that's grossed $100 million plus and counting).

    Accordingly, the producers went out and recruited "Mr. 'Tude" himself, Ice Cube, to play the title character in this latest installment. With obvious jabs at the Bush administration and featuring black prisoners, hustlers and thugs as the heroic characters (not to mention images from Cube in his N.W.A. days and the song "Fight the Power" playing on the soundtrack), the second part of the title is obviously looking to strike a chord with viewers disgruntled with the current state of U.S. governmental power.

    While some such viewers may see all of that as icing on the proverbial cake, they obviously aren't choosing this film for its politics. Instead, they're looking for lots of explosive action and the film certainly delivers that and more. There are fistfights, explosions, gunplay and even a tank battle inside an aircraft carrier, followed by the assault on the other meaning of the film's title, meaning an attack on the President addressing a joint session of Congress.

    The villains, of course, are the white political figures and their minions, and the heroic black men (accompanied by a few token white characters) put aside their views and feelings about how they're treated in America to save the Republic. Gosh, you'd think the film would have been released over the fourth of July holiday weekend.

    The only problem is it's not good enough for such a signature slot. Notwithstanding it being the frontrunner for this year's worst portrayal of Washington, D.C. and politics award, the script -- penned by Simon Kinberg (making his debut) -- is hackneyed at best when not derivative, predictable and ludicrous, and filmmaker Lee Tamahori's ("Die Another Day," "Along Came a Spider") direction is nothing to write home about.

    Of course, the original film was no great piece of art either, but as a guilty, over the top pleasure, it worked surprisingly well. After dispatching Diesel's XXX character via a brief, offhand remark (or, apparently, in more substantive form in the special edition "XXX" DVD where Diesel's body double takes the hit), the filmmakers get to work in establishing Cube's character (who gets the same moniker) as a no-nonsense, currently imprisoned, ex-military agent who's bitter about what happened to him.

    He's "recruited" by his former superior -- played by the returning Samuel L. Jackson ("Coach Carter," the recent "Star Wars" films) -- and then sets off to discover who attacked a secret, underground NSA lair and why. Lo and behold, the person behind it -- Willem Dafoe ("The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," "Spider-Man") in a thankless, one-dimensional villain role -- is the same guy responsible for him ending up in the government slammer.

    He and his posse then set out to right the wrongs and save the day. Okay, most action films aren't known for their realistic or even believable plots. They're all about action and attitude and Cube ("Are We There Yet?" the "Barbershop" films) certainly provides plenty of that, although this role certainly requires no thespian stretching on his part.

    Yet, most everything here is so dumb, illogical or just plain preposterous that it's hard to turn off one's brain and just go with the flow. That is, until late in the film -- during the titular action sequence at the end -- when everything goes so far over the top in ridiculousness that it finally manages to evoke some of that guilty pleasure fun. My "favorite" part was the secret Presidential bullet train that isn't located under the White House, but instead can be found in the bowels of the Capitol, and is present solely to create an extravagant Bond-type action moment.

    Interestingly enough, the film is something of a combination of that and the old Schwarzenegger action flicks from the '80s where the macho protagonist taunts or offs the bad guys with signature style one-liners (here, a fiery blast out of the said train is preceded by "You need to lighten up"). Unfortunately, the script's quips aren't as good or fun as the days of old and the filmmakers seem reluctant to go that direction whole hog.

    Stupid fun at times but not enough to overcome the clichéd action script, often stiff direction and overall preposterous nature, the film says something about the current state of action films, and that is that most aren't that good.

    XXX - State of the Union (Widescreen Edition) is now available for purchase by clicking here.

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