XXX: State of the Union
|xXx: State of the Union|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lee Tamahori|
|Produced by||Neal H. Moritz
|Written by||Simon Kinberg|
|Based on||Characters created by Rich Wilkes|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$71 million|
xXx: State of the Union (released as xXx: The Next Level outside the United States and Canada), is a 2005 action film directed by Lee Tamahori. It is a sequel to the 2002 film xXx (pronounced "Triple X"). The film was produced by Revolution Studios for Columbia Pictures.
Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen, the lead actor and director of the original, had signed onto this film before xXx had opened, but both dropped out as Diesel had to work on The Pacifier while Cohen was busy making Stealth; Cohen remained as an executive producer. Ice Cube took over the lead role as the new xXx and Tamahori was brought in to direct following the huge commercial success of the James Bond film Die Another Day which he directed.
Two different scripts were made for this film, and the one written by Simon Kinberg was selected. The other script featured a radically different plot, possibly serving as the basis for another sequel. State of the Union under-performed at the box office, and was criticized heavily by critics (the first installment's reception was mixed)—mainly for the poor performance of its star, illogical story, and overuse of CGI-influenced visual effects for most of the action sequences as opposed to live-action stunts being filmed. A sequel titled xXx: The Return of Xander Cage featuring Vin Diesel will be released in 2017.
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In Virginia, a rancher discovers dead bodies over his farm and decides to investigate. As he finds more bodies, he is killed by one of the assailants himself. Meanwhile, attackers use special explosives to break into an NSA bunker beneath the horse farm. There, NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) fends off the attackers before barely escaping himself. Sergeant Alabama "Bama" Cobb (John G. Connolly) is later revealed to be responsible for the attack on the bunker. After escaping the attack, Toby Shavers (Michael Roof), Gibbons's assistant, informs that, with the attack on the NSA bunker, Cobb also had Xander Cage, the XXX agent, assassinated in Bora Bora. To find a new substitute, Gibbons meets with Lt. Darius Stone (Ice Cube), a former U.S Navy SEAL officer, who is currently serving 9 of his 20 years sentence in Leavenworth for disobeying orders and breaking General George Deckert (Willem Defoe)'s jaw, who is now a rogue Secretary of Defense.
Later, Gibbons poses as Stone's lawyer and makes a deal with him in prison, and then makes an escape plan; Stone makes a daring escape. Stone meets with Zeke (Xzibit), his old partner in crime, and Lola Jackson, (Nona Gaye), his ex-girlfriend, who now runs an exotic car shop, and stays at her place. Stone is later told to recover a hard drive from the NSA bunker, while trying to escape Agent Kyle Steele (Scott Speedman) at the same time, and is rescued by Shavers. Some time later, Gibbons appears to be attacked in his home and murdered, with Deckert covering up the plot. Afterwards, Stone meets up with Gibbons' contact, a beautiful blonde named Charlie Mayweather (Sunny Mabrey), to get information and go to her safe house, but is framed so that it will appear that he murdered 4-Star General Jack Pettibone, whom Cobb and Charlie actually killed.
The police arrive, and Steele enters the house and makes a deal with Stone, while Shavers later, using the equipment he placed in Lola's place, hacks into the Pentagon to retrieve Deckert's plans. Afterwards, Stone infiltrates Deckert's troops aboard the USS Independence and discovers Gibbons is not dead, but being held prisoner by Deckert. Apparently Deckert is setting them up. Stone is discovered by Charlie (whom he knocks out). Gibbons orders him to escape and leave him. After retrieving the blueprints of Deckert's plot, Stone gets into an M-2 Bradley Armored Fighting vehicle and fights his way out of the ship, destroying a tank commandeered by Cobb's men to kill him. He briefly converses with Cobb and realizes that Deckert is planning a coup against the President.
Stone makes contact with Steele and shows him the plans; stating his view that Deckert is plotting to attack the Capitol. Steele counters Stone by insisting that Deckert is guarding the Capitol, not invading it. Stone insists this is a cover, then leaves in frustration with Steele's disbelief. During a conversation with Deckert, Steele realizes Stone was right, because Deckert lets it slip that he knows that Gibbons is still alive. He finds Stone and tells him Deckert wants to kill the president and his successors so that he can take his place. Steele suggests they go off the grid.
Stone, Steele, and Shavers enlist the aid Zeke and his crew. Together they rob an 18-wheeler, secretly hauling guns and equipment under the guise of a cheese truck normally used to haul wheels of varieties of cheese such as Parmesan, Gouda, Fontina, American, and Pepper Jack. On the night of Deckert's plan, they make their move, driving though the backs of buildings and warehouses. They end up hijacking a tank, and Stone helps Steele infiltrate the Capitol building. After some gunfights, during which Gibbons kills Charlie. Deckert and Cobb abduct the President while he is making the State of the Union Address. They escape on a bullet train.
Lola arrives in a special custom-built 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra and Stone uses it to infiltrate the bullet train, destroying the car in the process. He engages Cobb in hand-to-hand combat and finally kills him by causing an explosion blowing him out of the train . Stone fights Deckert while helping the president escape in an adjacent helicopter. Stone leaps from the fleeing train while Gibbons destroys it with a missile, obliterating and killing Deckert. The flaming wreckage from the train lights Stone in a silhouette as he dives into the river below, narrowly avoiding the wreckage that plunges in after him.
Never knowing that Deckert was conspiring to overthrow the president, he is buried and branded as "one of the nation's greatest heroes". The President awards Agent Steele and the Unknown Soldier (Stone) the Medal of Honor, as Stone goes back to his thug-esque lifestyle. Deckert receives full honors at his funeral (officially, he died while protecting the President), somewhat to Stone's disgust. Lola gives Stone the keys to a 1967 Ford Mustang, and he drives off; the xXx tattoo can be seen on the back of his neck.
In the now rebuilt NSA Headquarters, Gibbons, Steele and Shavers discuss what kind of person the next xXx agent should be; farther off the grid, a fresh face, a new model. Gibbons says that he has the perfect candidate for the job.
- Ice Cube as Darius Stone/xXx
- Willem Dafoe as US Secretary of Defense, General George Deckert
- Scott Speedman as NSA Agent Kyle Christopher Steele
- Peter Strauss as US President James Sanford
- Samuel L. Jackson as NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons
- John G. Connolly as Sgt Alabama "Bama" Cobb
- Xzibit as Zeke
- Sunny Mabrey as Charlie Mayweather
- Nona Gaye as Lola Jackson
- Michael Roof as NSA Agent Toby Lee Shavers
- Ramon De Ocampo as NSA Agent Meadows
A soundtrack containing hip hop and alternative rock was released on April 26, 2005 through Jive Records. It peaked at #117 on the Billboard 200, #48 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #5 on the Top Soundtracks chart.
The film performed poorly, both critically and financially. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 16% score based on 125 reviews.
Boo Allen of the Denton Record Chronicle called Ice Cube's version of xXx "a chubby, surly, incomprehensible action hero". Brian Orndorf of FilmJerk.com compared watching the film to running "headfirst at top speed into a brick wall". David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer said "the plot swings between pathetically implausible and aggressively stupid". Some critics liked the film. Mack Bates of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised Ice Cube's "trademark charisma and street sensibility", while Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called it "that rare B movie that’s rooted in gut-level stirrings of power and retaliation". Paul Arendt of the BBC said, "Viewed on its own trashy terms, it succeeds brilliantly".
After the low box office returns of xXx: State of the Union, the chance of a sequel looked slim. After Vin Diesel's new found fame and popularity, the studio has pondered making a sequel with the tentative name xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. In January 2014, Diesel said that the script should be complete within the following month. Diesel announces on his Instagram page that the film will begin principal photography in The Philippines in December 2015. On October 10, 2015, it was reported that director D.J. Caruso will direct xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Diesel announced on his Instagram account that UFC fighter Conor McGregor was cast in a role and Samuel L. Jackson will be reprising his role as Gibbons. In January 2016, Twitch reported that Tony Jaa, Jet Li, Deepika Padukone, Nina Dobrev and Ruby Rose were cast in roles with Dobrev as a witty and sarcastic techie, Padukone as a huntress who happens to be Cage’s former lover with Rose playing the role of a sniper. Li was confirmed in the film as the leader of his own team and will square off against Cage. Whether Li is the ultimate villain of the movie remains to be seen.
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