XXX: State of the Union (2005)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Glamorized Spy Film  |   Release Date - Apr 29, 2005 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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While nowhere near a classic, the first XXX film did put a spin on the secret agent movie that, while obviously marketed toward the young and extreme crowd, was still one big, ridiculous time at the movies, which makes it all the more difficult to accept the underwhelming thug machismo that populates XXX: State of the Union. With very little to link it with the first movie and Vin Diesel's character killed off in an added scene on the XXX DVD, the filmmakers decided to grab the few remaining characters and run off in a completely different direction that veers shockingly close to shoddy straight-to-video political action thrillers. The funny thing is that the movie does have a decidedly non-Conservative plot, but it's constantly hindered by its own blasé approach. First mistake -- Ice Cube, in a completely miscast scenario wherein all he does is sneer and, well, act like Ice Cube. Samuel L. Jackson does an okay job as the burn-faced boss man, but sadly, there's nothing juicy in the role for him to sink his teeth into. It seems the only person that's having fun any here is the most annoying character in the flick -- none other than the white boy Q character (Michael Roof), who probably annoyed you the first time around in the last flick. All of that said, things do blow up real good in the movie, but there is not one pulse in any of the many shoot-'em-up scenes, nor does the movie follow the original's map of constantly upping the action ante until the last explosive second. Instead, you get a badly CG'd train sequence that doesn't fit a bit with the rest of the film and Willem Dafoe cashing in his paycheck as the bad guy, something he accomplished with far more entertaining gonzo glee back with Speed 2: Cruise Control. There is something to be said for a group of black soldiers that saves the president after an overthrow attempt during the State of the Union address, but the compliments for this sucker end there. If the series continues, audiences should hope that they go back to the formula that they were initially trying to riff on rather than settling for pure action tripe.