Not all Americans condone American wars in foreign countries. In fact, in apparent protest of corruption that has of late defined American foreign policy, screenwriter Simon Kinberg concocted a heroic manifesto in xXx II: The Next Level.
This is a sequel to the original spy/action thriller starring Vin Diesel; it makes a bold critique of the United States’s obsession with protecting its national security.
Replacing Diesel, the original xXx, is Darius Stone, played by rapper Ice Cube. Stone is a ‘hood-trained, special crime fighter who escapes prison to work for Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) with the National Security Agency.
The mission: to stop secretary of defence Octavius Deckert’s (William Dafoe) plan to kill the US president and overthrow the government.
What results is a seriously entertaining action movie with enough intellectual acuity to satisfy the esoteric café-goers. Despite its overly conventional depiction of impossible missions accomplished and the usual dramatic explosions, xXx II could well spark discussion about the ethics of killing to save people.
Director Lee Tamahori manages to escape the action movie wall of shame, primarily because of the film’s witty and, at times, thought-provoking script. Also, there’s enouch comic relief to make this movie a pleasure—not to mention Cube’s street smarts, which he puts across so effortlessly through his character, bringing to life the movie’s social criticisms.