xXx: State of the Union

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xXx: State of the Union
Review (6/10)
(By Jamie Kelwick)

After Agent Augustus Gibbons' (Jackson) facility is attacked, leaving most of his operatives dead, he is forced to take his xXx program underground to
find out who is behind the assault. Now he needs a new type of xXx, one that can take the fight to them and is a military specialist. Enter Darius Stone
(Cube), ex-Navy S.E.A.L. and current military prisoner, a rouge soldier with exceptional stills he is just the man to be the new xXx.

Even after the success of the first movie, star Vin Diesel decided not to return for the invertible sequel but can the franchise survive without its star.

With only Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Roof returning from the original film, the filmmakers behind the action follow up had to come up with a
change to the concept. Now xXx is a NSA operation and not a person that Agent Gibbons is still over seeing. This means that anyone can be a xXx and
a person can be picked for the specialist operation. This opens the franchise to infinite change and possibilities.

With the xXx from the first movie, Xander Cage killed off (something we just hear about) the new agent is a complete change from the original extreme sports star. Ice Cube's Darius Stone is still the same hot headed, risk taking rebel who really doesn't like authority but Stone has a completely
different skill set. He is an ex-Navy S.E.A.L, sniper and expert diver who ended up in military prison after a mission went disastrously wrong. So now
we have a hip-hop star/gangster/soldier that takes no prisoners and does everything with an attitude. Ice Cube fits the role perfectly. He might look
slightly too overweight for the role but he takes the action sequences well and can handle himself in a fight.

Samuel L. Jackson returns to the role of Agent Augustus Gibbons. He is only in the film briefly however and he could have really done with some more screen time. Michael Roof also returns as the series answer to Q, Agent Toby Lee Shavers. He doesn't get to design as many gadgets this time around but he is on screen a lot more. Joining the returning cast is Willem Dafoe as Senator George Deckert, the US Secretary of Defence. He is your typical action film villain with grandiose plans and does a lot of monologing but the role doesn't really push Dafoe's talents to the limit. Scott Speedman
gets another chance to shine as Agent Kyle Steele, the all American hero NSA Agent. There are also some noticeable smaller roles for Nona Gaye and Sunny Mabrey.

With some good action sequences and a plot that isn't too taxing on the brain, 'xXx 2: The Next Level' is a decent improvement on the original and an entertaining popcorn movie. While it will never have what it takes to compete with the Bond and Bourne franchises, this is still high-octane action for the extreme sports generation.

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