Publicity Stills of "XXX2: The Next Level"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Courtesy of Columbia TriStar.
Photo by Industrial & Magic.

Courtesy of Columbia TriStar.
Photo by Zade Rosenthal.

Courtesy of Columbia TriStar.
Photo by Zade Rosenthal.

Courtesy of Columbia TriStar.
Photo by Zade Rosenthal.

Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Lee Tamahori
Starring: Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Peter Strauss, Samuel L. Jackson
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Clean)
Consumer Advice: Action Violence
Language: English Dialogues with Chinese subtitles

Release Date: 28 April 2005


In Revolution Studios’ bold new action thriller XXX2: The Next Level, a follow-up to the blockbuster franchise film of 2002, the winds of political change are rumbling through the halls of the Capitol as a popular President is being targeted for assassination by a radical splinter group of dissenters deep within the United States government.

Only two people stand between anarchy and freedom: One of them, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), has just survived a hit on the National Security Agency's top-secret headquarters and is on the run. The other, a decorated Special Ops soldier, Darius Stone (Ice Cube), sits under close guard in a military prison.

Gibbons once again finds himself in need of an outsider and Stone is his man. The new XXX agent must uncover the insurgents from within. It is the nation’s only hope to stop the first coup d'etat in American history.

Movie Review:

Once upon a time, there are action stars from Hong Kong liked Jackie Chan, Jet Li who performed most of their own stunt works.

Then came Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis who are also action stars but all they have to do is performed most of their stunt works in front of blue or green screen.

Now another breed of action star is born. The computer generated action star whereby the star is not even required to perform the dangerous stunts on set as most of the them are CG and composite onscreen. Before you go further, I must warn you that “XXX2: The Next Level” is made on this readily available concept (see “XXX” one if you haven’t). Brushing off the unbelievable stunts in this movie will definitely kill your enjoyment.

Ice Cube (“Torque”, “Barbershop”) plays Darius Stone, a tough no-nonsense highly skilled ex-military man who was court-marshalled for hitting his superior. As with the first “XXX”, he is being secretly recruited by Gibbons (the prolific Samuel L. Jackson), the National Security Agency agent to penetrate the U.S. political scene to check out a coup to overthrow the government. Without the need to stretch your brain cells, you can practically sniff out who is behind the conspiracy when the Secretary of Defense, George Deckert (Green Goblin aka Willem Dafoe) made his appearance with his sly looks.

It will be most injustice to compare Vin Diesel with Ice Cube’s performance. Though both possess radical personality in the XXX series, Cube might be deter by the popularity department, his hip-hop image is too vivid for audience to shake off.

The plotting is apparently clear-cut, good versus the bad. While the first instalment involves a lot of extreme sports inspired action sequences, this one is just a good excuse for the moviemakers to pepper the movie with continuous gravity disabled stunts and a whole slew of eye-boggling cars such as the Ford Cobra Concept car. In addition some rather funny one-liner to go along liked Stone saying: ”XXX sounds liked a name for a porn star”.

Producer Neal H. Moritz who produced recent hits liked “The Fast & The Furious” and “SWAT” seems to be on the verge of becoming the next Jerry Bruckheimer. In addition, New Zealand born director Lee Tamahori (“Die Another Day”) who helmed this project gave the impression that he is going on fourth gear from the movie opens and brakes only when the credits roll. With an opening that involves plenty of high-tech gadgets and explosions, there isn’t a minute of the movie slowing down and if this is insufficient, the finale even involved a bullet train chase sequence courtesy from the wizards at ILM.

All in all, “XXX2: The Next Level” is akin to a can of “Red Bull”, full of adrenalin and energy. If you are looking for a bowl of hot ginseng chicken soup, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Movie Rating: B-

Review by Linus.T.

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