XXX (2002 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Cohen|
|Produced by||Neal H. Moritz|
|Written by||Rich Wilkes|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$277.4 million|
XXX (stylized as xXx and pronounced as Triple X) is a 2002 American action film directed by Rob Cohen, produced by Neal H. Moritz and written by Rich Wilkes. The first installment in the XXX film series, the film stars Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, a thrill-seeking extreme sports enthusiast, stuntman and rebellious athlete-turned reluctant spy for the National Security Agency. Cage is sent on a dangerous mission to infiltrate a group of potential Russian terrorists in Central Europe. The film also stars Asia Argento, Marton Csokas and Samuel L. Jackson. Cohen had previously directed The Fast and the Furious (2001), in which Diesel also stars.
A biochemical weapon, "Silent Night," presumed missing since the fall of the Soviet Union, is obtained by Anarchy 99, a Russian terrorist group with formal military training. The NSA send an undercover agent to recover the weapon, but Anarchy 99's skills easily see through the deception and assassinate him.
NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons suggests that they need to send someone who lacks ties to the US government. Gibbons identifies Xander Cage, an extreme sports professional known as "XXX (Triple X)" but also wanted by the FBI for his acts of protest against a leading senator. Gibbons's team abducts Cage, and puts him through two field tests, stopping a staged diner robbery, and escaping from a Colombian cartel's plantation in the midst of an army raid. Cage passes, and Gibbons offers him the job, promising to wipe his criminal records clean or otherwise sending him to prison. Cage reluctantly accepts the job.
Cage is sent to Prague to meet with the NSA support team, which includes Czech agent Milan Sova. Sova has been tasked to watch Cage and deport him back to America should he fall out of line, quickly riling Cage. During their first task, scouting an Anarchy 99 party, Cage purposely identifies Sova as a police officer to Anarachy 99's leader, Yorgi, earning him favor with the group, which is enhanced when Yorgi's brother Kolya reveals he is a fan of Cage. Cage tells Yorgi that he is in the club to make a deal with Yorgi about high end sports cars. Cage hands him the list and Yorgi immediately identifies that the tenth car on the list, a 1967 Pontiac GTO would be hard to find in Europe. When he hands the list to Yelena, his girlfriend and lieutenant, she and Cage have an argument about the price of the deal. At the end of their argument, Cage asks her about an account number and is provided with one.
The next morning, Gibbons calls Cage about changes to the list of cars, but is impressed when Cage gives them loads of information on Anarchy 99, thanks to Kolya eagerly providing to please his idol. Impressed by his work, Gibbons sends tech-specialist Agent Toby Shavers, who provides Cage with a special revolver, binoculars that can see through walls and explosives disguised as bandages. Later, Cage attends the car deal he made earlier with Yorgi in a warehouse which Sova attempts to intercede. Cage appears to shoot Sova with his special field revolver and kill him. Thus earning him Yorgi's trust and in return, Yorgi makes Cage a member of Anarchy 99; in reality, Cage was able to use fake blood splatter darts to fake Sova's death.
Yorgi brings Cage back to a castle after a dance party at one of his nightclubs that serves as Anarchy 99's headquarters. Cage, while searching for the biochemical weapon, catches Yelena attempting to investigate Yorgi's secret safe. He takes her to a nearby restaurant to discuss the matter, and reveals his true identity. Meanwhile, Sova betrays Cage and reveals his true identity to Yorgi on the phone. Furious, Yorgi sends his trusted sniper Kirill to take Cage out after tracing his location. While watching the pair, Kirill, who is in love with Yelena contacts her to tell her that they already know of Cage's identity, making him a liability to their group. Cage and Yelena stage a fight to escape, but the NSA suddenly appears to capture Cage, while Yelena is taken back to Anarchy 99.
Cage meets with Gibbons in an opera house who demands that he return to America now that his cover is blown, and that special forces are planning to siege the castle to recover the weapon. Cage refuses, fearing for Yelena's life by stating that he sent her back to retrieve more information for Gibbons and his group, as well as being bitter that Sova purposely blew his cover. Later that night, he sneaks into Yorgi's castle to know more about Yorgi's plans. He follows Yorgi into a secret underground lab in the castle overhearing Yorgi's plan to launch "Silent Night" from a water-borne drone named Ahab into several major cities after witnessing Yorgi killing all of the scientists that worked to create the drone and the bio agent by detonating a loaded missile through his special binoculars, Cage flees the area after killing Yorgi's brother Kolya with a special bandage bomb. He goes to back to his hideout where he finds Sova waiting for him. He explains that he switched sides because Yorgi offered him more payment than the US Government. Just as he is about to shoot Cage, he is killed from inbound gunfire from the door. Yelena arrives with two men, the Ivans whom Cage had met earlier. She explains that she is an FSB agent that started to get close to Yorgi two years before, but her handlers abandoned her. Cage relays Yorgi's plans to the NSA on the condition that the US Government give Yelena asylum in the country, who prepare a coordinated attack on the castle. Going against orders to leave, Cage gives his car to Shavers and tells him to load it up with as much weaponry as he can. Cage then paratroops from a plane on a snowboard in a snowy region of Czech Republic where the communication tower of Anarchy 99 is located. Upon chase by the members of the group, he starts an avalanche and in turn destroys the tower used by Anarachy 99 in order to aid the NSA. However, he is captured by Yorgi, who already knew of Yelena's true identity. Just as Yorgi prepares to kill them, the special forces launch their attack. Cage and Yelena free their restraints and Cage kills Yorgi, but not before he launches Ahab, armed with "Silent Night," towards the center of Prague.
Cage contacts Gibbons, who notifies the Czech military to prepare to destroy Ahab with airstrikes, even though this will release some of the biochemical agent. Cage and Yelena take his car, now heavily modified by Agent Shavers, to race alongside the river to catch up to Ahab. Cage harpoons the drone and crosses over to it, and is able to disable the weapon moments before it goes off. Cage and Yelena are recovered, and Gibbons follows through on his promises to Cage as well as providing Yelena with American citizenship. Later, Cage and Yelena are relaxing in Bora Bora when Gibbons contacts Cage to offer him another mission. Cage ignores him.
- Vin Diesel as Xander Cage (also known by his nickname "Triple X"): A thrill seeking American extreme sports enthusiast, stuntman and anti-establishment activist. Idolized in some sub-cultures, xXx is also hunted by the authorities and he is offered a deal to become a spy for the National Security Agency in exchange for leniency, the agency requiring an agent who can do the current job without the military professional training that Anarchy 99's background will allow them to recognise.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Augustus Gibbons: A high-ranking official in the National Security Agency who has the power to give xXx a pardon for his crimes. He uses this fact as leverage to recruit xXx for a mission he knows xXx is the only person with the possibility of succeeding- infiltrating Anarchy 99-, recognising the benefits of xXx's rebellious attitude and unorthodox methods.
- William Hope as Agent Roger Donnan: The Associate and Administrator of the National Security Agency.
- Danny Trejo as El Jefe: A torturer for a Colombian drug cartel.
- Asia Argento as Yelena: Yorgi's apparent girlfriend. She was originally a Russian intelligence agent, sent to watch over Yorgi but has since been abandoned by her superiors. Yelena becomes romantically involved with xXx and he attempts to get her political asylum in the United States for her assistance in bringing down Yorgi
- Marton Csokas as Yorgi: Former soldier in the army of the Soviet Union, now a wealthy hedonist owning a string of locations around Eastern Europe, including a castle and nightclubs. Yorgi is also the leader of Anarchy 99, a group of militant anarchists with a disdain for all forms of government and authority, and society in general. His ultimate aim is complete lawlessness across the world.
- Michael Roof as Agent Toby Lee Shavers: NSA techno-genius and gadget specialist.
- Richy Müller as Milan Sova: A criminal and double agent.
- Werner Daehn as Kirill: A member of Anarchy 99, cigarette addict and rifle sharpshooter.
- Petr Jákl as Kolya: Yorgi's younger brother.
- Jan Pavel Filipensky as Viktor: A member of Anarchy 99 and close friend of Yorgi. He is usually with Yorgi wherever he goes.
- Tom Everett as Senator Dick Hotchkiss: A conservative California State Senator; his car is stolen and wrecked by xXx prior to his recruitment by the NSA, in an act of property destruction, as a protest against some of Hotchkiss's policies.
- Thomas Ian Griffith as Agent Jim McGrath
- Eve as J.J.: Xander's friend
- Leila Arcieri as Jordan King
- Rammstein as Themselves
To imply Xander Cage's credibility within extreme sport subcultures, various personalities make cameo appearances:
- Tony Hawk makes a cameo appearance in the Corvette scene from the bottom of the bridge driving the getaway Cadillac, (near the beginning of the film) and skating over a half-pipe at Xander's place later.
- Mike Vallely also makes a cameo as a cameraman and an extra. Pro motocross rider Carey Hart is seen in the back seat of the Cadillac driven by Tony Hawk.
- Rider Matt Hoffman exchanges lines with Xander during the party scene.
- Also during the party scene, Josh Todd (the lead singer of Buckcherry) makes a cameo appearance though he never turns around, but his suicide king of hearts tattoo can be seen on his back.
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In July 2001 it was announced that Vin Diesel will receive in the neighborhood of $10 million to star in the film, with an initial release date of July 26, 2002. In August 2001, Sony put a large billboard of XXX in Hollywood, before a script had been written. There was also a teaser trailer released on May 3, 2002. It was then attached to Spider-Man, and shown on the web.
Filming took place at three locations. Most of the film is set in Prague, Czech Republic. The Corvette jump was filmed at the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn State Recreation Area, Auburn, California. The final scenes were set in Bora Bora, Tahiti, and other areas in southern West Virginia.
Stunt player Harry O'Connor, Diesel's stunt double, was killed when he hit a pillar of the Palacký Bridge in Prague, para-sailing during one of the action scenes. The accident occurred while filming the second take of the stunt; O'Connor's first attempt was completed without incident and can be seen in the completed film.
The first few minutes of the film take place at a concert of German Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein in Prague, performing the song "Feuer Frei". The same clip is available, but from the band's perspective (with only brief scenes from the film) in their video compilation Lichtspielhaus.
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The film score was composed by Randy Edelman, a frequent collaborator of Cohen's. The film also featured a contemporary rock music soundtrack. Rammstein provided some of the music and was even featured in the film in the opening scene. During the club scene in Prague, Orbital can be seen playing their exclusive track "Technologicque Park" live before the dancing crowd. The soundtrack album also features Queens of the Stone Age, Drowning Pool, Hatebreed, Nelly, Lil Wayne, N.E.R.D, and Moby. It was released on August 6, 2002 through Universal Records. It peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200, #16 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #1 on the Top Soundtracks. The "Tweaker remix" of the song "Adrenaline" by Gavin Rossdale (the lead singer of Bush) was featured was in the film, while the original version is included on the soundtrack. None of Edelman's score was included on the album, with a separate disc of his work released by Varèse Sarabande.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 48% of the critics gave the film positive reviews based on a sample of 179 reviews; the average score is 5.59/10. The site's consensus reads: "It has an endearing lack of seriousness, and Vin Diesel has more than enough muscle for the starring role, but ultimately, XXX is a missed opportunity to breathe new life into the spy thriller genre." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 and a half stars out of 4, writing, "In its own punk way, XXX is as good as a good Bond movie, and that's saying something." It grossed $277.4 million.
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