Monday, 14 April 2008

XXX 2: The Next Level



XXX 2: THE NEXT LEVEL (2005)

Directed by: Lee Tamahori
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe & Samuel L. Jackson

Bubblegum action is what XXX 2 is, a ridiculous but very entertaining follow up to the original Vin Diesel starring XXX. Bubblegum in the sense that many people die, but the film is never really violent, the colour scheme is awash with bright hues that often jar with the tough guy theatrics and fantasy levels of heroism and indestructible good guys is played to the tilt. XXX 2 proudly wears its “this is not for real” badge on its sleeve and provides us with a sugar rush ride that eventually goes pop under its own sickly indulgences. Shiny, fast and a lot fun, XXX 2 is a blast.



Bad guy Willem Dafoe has a plot to kill the president, get himself elected in his place and refresh the good old US of A with the patriots it so desperately needs. Sam Jackson (returning from XXX) steps in, hires a new XXX soldier in the form of disgraced Navy Seal, Ice Cube and they set about thwarting (with some help from a comedy relief guy, some other government dudes, a bunch of rap stars (!!??) and a couple of babes) Dafoe’s evil ways. Cue boats flying out of the water and landing on cars; pinball played with tanks; Cube making love to a cheeseburger after getting out of prison (it’ll make sense when you see it); some double crosses; cool scenes of firepower and a finale so CGI’d you would swear you were watching a video game.



To be fair the action is pretty good. Tamahori (The Edge) knows his way around an action scene and gives us explosion junkies a good mixture of big stunts, hand/gun combat scenes, a bit of CGI and a fair few explosions. Cube is pretty good in the combat scenes, and though they are cut to soften the violence, his few hand to hand fight scenes are quick and tough. The CGI finale isn’t as bad as it sounds, involving a bullet train, a helicopter and a muscle car, but as always the best action is the ground based gun battles and punch ups, all which are handled with aplomb. The opening scene gets a special mention for the cool device the bad guys use to break into the good guys compound. Cool and where can I get one of those?



XXX 2 succeeds on its fun factor and for mercifully jettisoning the embarrassing “extreme sports dude” bollocks of the first instalment. There is still a fair share of urban posing and crappy music but it never dominates the film or hinders the fun of the action. Purists may balk at the fact Tamahori is now directing action fluff like this, considering his debut was the award winning Once Were Warriors, and those of you who detest CGI best stay away. But for pure unadulterated fun with some cool actors obviously having a ball, then check out the slick action XXX 2 provides.

2 comments:

Cormackphotos said...

Making love to a cheeseburger? OK, now I have to see this.

drive2 said...

Skyscraper is on its way! Duuuudeee....