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Rogue thrill-seeker Xander 'xXx' Cage (Vin Diesel) likes to elude local law authorities by streaming footage of his illegal hardcore stunts to the world-wide-web. This brings him to the attention of NSA shadow Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), who blackmails him into becoming a rogue secret agent. Gibbons puts him through an "audition" before sending him to the Czech Republic to infiltrate a Russian gang with world domination plans. Its here that xXx confronts evil Ruskie gang leader Yorgi (Marton Csokas), and his no-fear attitude is put to the test once and for all. 

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
After warming up with knockout supporting roles in Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel proves that his "ego is writing cheques his body can't cash" in xXx, a ridiculously plotted modernisation of James Bond spy games. Diesel has the looks and the devil-may-care machismo, but xXx seems purposely written to promote him as an A-List star, and Diesel can only manage B-List acting ability, which doesn't extend beyond action hero who delivers one line at a time. Ironically, his "don't-mess with-me attitude" is perfect for his role as an extreme sports legend turned international man of mystery. 

I don't know why xXx was hyped as a new kind of Bond film. IT IS A BOND FILM, plain and simple. More accurately, it's a Bond film for the attention deficit disordered. It couldn’t care less about character, plot, wit, or believability, just about the next thrill, the next babe, the next chance for Diesel to look good being a badass. He has the high-tech gadgets, the wardrobe of outfits last seen on Paris catwalks (including a Monty Burns style Gopher-skin jacket), and an attitude so obnoxious he'd be thrown out of the White House. But he does action pretty well, surfing down a stair-rail on a silver tray, taking on bad guys with a super-duper gun, and in the movie's most outrageous sequence, outracing a thunderous avalanche on a snowboard. xXx never pretends to be anything but mindless fun, and in this case, X indeed marks the spot. It's as deep as Diesel's tattoos but is more fun than a Bond movie because it doesn't take itself seriously. 

As you'd expect, this collector's edition DVD of xXx has triple the extras. First, there's commentary by director Rob Cohen, who is clearly passionate about xXx and his previous film The Fast and the Furious (he assumes audiences have seen both). In A Filmmaker's Diary, a film crew has exclusive all-access for the 82 days of pre-production and post-production. Rob Cohen anchors the documentary, leading the cast and crew in a prayer session and for the next three weeks, subjecting them to death-defying one-take scenes, night fights and gruelling training sessions. Weeks 4 to 12 are in Prague, and then it's back to LA for post-production. It's a long, comprehensive reflection of the filmmaking process. Building Speed and Diesel Powered are pompous tributes to the 1967 Pontiac GTO and Diesel himself respectively. It's macho stuff. 

In Designing the World of xXx the crew discuss location, production, set, costume and CG values from the film, discussing every exhausting detail. In Visual Effects How-To's, three scenes are deconstructed to demonstrate CG layering, and visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek gives a bland commentary on some uninteresting composites. The 10 deleted scenes are time coded and come available with optional commentary by Cohen, all justifiably absent from the final cut. There's the obligatory music clip by Gavin Rossdale for 'Adrenalin', filmographies for the main cast and crew and trailers for National Security and I Spy. "Nobody does it better," the Bond theme goes. True, but nobody is xXx.

Published April 3, 2003

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CAST: Vin Diesel, Samuel L Jackson, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas


RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2:40:1 widescreen; Dolby 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's Commentary; 'xXx: A Filmmaker's Diary'; 'Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx', 'Designing the World of xXx' and 'Diesel Powered'; 'Visual Effects How-To's' - 'Creating the Mountain Avalanche', 'Creating an Avalanche' and 'Shack Explosion'; Deleted Scenes; Gavin Rossdale 'Adrenalin' music video; Filmographies; Trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia Tristar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2003

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