out of Five
Running time: 100
Surprisingly, XXX2 turns out to be more enjoyable than the original film, thanks to a better plot, some utterly preposterous stunts and a point blank refusal to take itself seriously.
On paper, XXX2 looks like a truly terrible idea and a worthy contender alongside Miss Congeniality 2 and Be Cool as the year’s least anticipated sequel. Surprisingly, then, XXX2 turns out to be a lot more fun than the first movie, largely thanks to Ice Cube, a better plot and some impressive, if hilarious, action scenes.
Danger From An Unexpected Direction
Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Augustus Gibbons, the NSA agent who “handled” Vin Diesel’s Xander Cage in the first film. As the film opens, he and geeky gadget expert Shavers (Michael Roof, also back for more) narrowly escape an attack on NSA headquarters. Gibbons suspects a covert faction within the government (well, you would, wouldn’t you?) and when he learns that Cage has been killed “in Bora-Bora”, he decides he needs a new XXX and busts ex-Special Ops soldier Darius Stone (Ice Cube) out of military prison.
And after that, it’s just a bunch of stunts and explosions until the final confrontation with Evil Secretary of Defense Willem Dafoe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
XXX2 is the textbook definition of Big Dumb Fun. The stunts themselves are so utterly ludicrous that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud. Fortunately, they are also impressively directed by Lee Tamahori (who directed Die Another Day). The film doesn’t stint on explosions either - it seems that Cube only has to look at something to make it explode, particularly during the hugely entertaining speedboat sequence.
Cube Appealing Lead Though Somewhat Tubby
Ice Cube makes an appealing lead and no-one ever mentions that he might be a little on the tubby side to really cut it as an action hero. (That said, you only ever see him running in long shot). There’s also predictably strong support from Samuel L. Jackson, who has slightly more to do this time round, and Willem Dafoe, who can always be relied upon for a nice spot of villainy.
Rounding out the cast are Nona Gaye (as Stone’s hotshot mechanic ex-girlfriend), Xzibit (as a “renegade chop-shop operator”, it says here), Sunny Mabrey (as a duplicitous senator’s daughter) and Scott Speedman (the Poor Man’s Owen Wilson) as an FBI Agent who sides with Stone and Gibbons.
There’s a lot to enjoy here, from the deliberately outrageous stunts (such as Stone shredding the tyres on a car so the rims fit onto railway tracks) to the unintentional hilarity of Cube spying on Dafoe by standing right next to him. There’s also a deliciously subversive streak to the film, since the climax involves a group of armed-to-the-teeth ghetto criminals blowing up the Capitol building in order to “rescue” the President. Only in America…
In short, XXX2 may not tax any of your brain cells but as Big Dumb Blockbusters go, it’s more fun than both the last Bond and the first XXX movie put together. Worth seeing. No, really.