Sam Strange Remembers: xXx

Not a porno. Well, kind of a porno.

America has never been able to produce a James Bond figure of note. Many have tried, but all we ever get are highly capable empty suits, guys who can do all the stuff James Bond does but with none of the personality. The problem is that James Bond is not an American. He’s a pussy. You can be a pussy over in England and still look cool. But here you just look like a pussy.

An American James Bond has to be American, something that goes far deeper than just an accent. He needs to be a huge, hulking mask of muscle, someone with absolutely no specific values and yet a strongly averred, nonsensical philosophy toward freedom, someone who is the dumbest person in the room who thinks he’s the smartest person in the room.

Of course, no one figured this out, so the task fell to me. Thus, we have xXx, a movie that finally gives America its own James Bond while also confounding people searching and not searching for porn alike.

xXx begins with a typical secret agent running from bad guys through the streets of Germany. You can tell right off the bat that he doesn’t belong. He’s this fancy guy in a tuxedo being chased by punks with mohawks. Eventually, the super suave spy is killed, as will almost certainly happen to James Bond one day, at a Rammstein concert. He’s not even killed by the bad guys. The band just eats him because it seems like a cool thing to do.

Back at SHIELD HQ, Nick Fury decides the spy world needs to take a new approach. Old school spies just aren’t cutting it anymore. Their high intellect and snappy outfits give them away, and far too many of them are getting eaten at Rammstein concerts. Instead, he proposes a new generation of spies, people pulled from the world of extreme sports and Robin Hood-style criminal shenanigans.

Enter xXxander Cage, played by the incorrigible Vin Diesel. When we meet xXxander, he steals a car from a senator as revenge for the guy’s Senate vote to ban rap music and violent video games, has a crew video tape the ensuing police chase to further his own fame, and ramps the car off a bridge, parachuting to safety as his camera crew gets shot and/or arrested by the cops. Truly a hero for a more complicated era.

He then drives his motorcycle home. xXxander lives in an abandoned warehouse, which makes it easy for him to ride his motorcycle from couch to kitchen for more Wheat Thins. Tonight, however, his house is filled with people celebrating his new video, which no one has seen because it’ll take almost two days for AOL users to download it. But it smells like a hit!

Unfortunately, the party is cut short when Nick Fury and his men crash it and kill everyone except xXxander, who they shoot with a tranquilizer dart. xXxander wakes up in a strange diner in the middle of a robbery. Except it’s not a real robbery. By observing his environment, xXxander quickly surmises that this whole thing is staged and defuses it without fear. Nick Fury is impressed and shoots xXxander with another tranquilizer dart.

xXxander next wakes up on a plane over Colombia where he gets dropped in the middle of a bunch of cartel guys who immediately want to kill him. It turns out that while xXxander is great at sussing out fake scenarios, he’s awful at discovering real ones, so he thinks the whole thing is a joke. Fortunately, he’s just a distraction as the real army comes in and blows everything up. Nick Fury tells him good job, then shoots him with a tranquilizer dart. xXxander wakes up on the plane ride home earlier than expected, so Nick Fury shoots him with another tranquilizer dart. The next time he wakes up, Nick Fury accidentally farts while debriefing him and tranquilizes him again out of sheer embarrassment.

After proving that he can A) suss out fake diner robberies, B) serve as an unwitting distraction in a secret war between America and Colombia, and C) withstand a surprising amount of tranquilizer darts, xXxander is ready for action! Nick Fury immediately sends him to the country of Eternia and makes him become undercover bros with a bad guy named Scottray Doug. No problem. xXxander simply approaches Scottray, points out his local police chaperone, and smokes cigars while the bad guys torture the poor guy. In like Flynn!

Scottray Doug has a bomb that will create chaos and disrupt civilization, something xXxander’s anarchist heart actually admires. But Doug’s new world order has a no energy drink policy, and that xXxander cannot abide. Furthermore, Scottray Doug has a hot girlfriend to steal. So while xXxander really wants to betray his government and hang out with this dude, his own values make that impossible. Back at SHIELD HQ Nick Fury nods in approval. He accidentally made the right choice.

So xXxander has to kill everyone. On his first attempt, he punches a mountain and creates an avalanche. That wipes out many of Scottray’s goons, but he and his bomb are still alive. Next, xXxander pushes two tectonic plates apart and creates an earthquake. This kills Scottray Doug, but leaves his bomb alive and on its way to London. To take care of the bomb, xXxander gets this really high-tech car with so many gadgets onboard that he has to drive while reading the owner’s manual. Eventually he finds the disarm bomb button (it was right next to the “Play pre-curated Slipknot playlist” button). The button works, but xXxander ramps the car into the bomb just to be sure. This actually sets off the car’s bomb, but it only blows up a few city blocks, so NBD.

xXxander gets the girl and becomes a famous secret spy with all the energy drink endorsements he could ever want. Old people everywhere shake their heads in disapproval at a world they no longer understand.

(three stars)

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