Dir: Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L.Jackson

Oh, goodie - I get to quote Shakespeare in a review: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth, yet hugely applicable to this, the leading contender for biggest disappointment of the year. I loved the trailer. It, however, had all the best bits - this big, blustery flick attempts to out-Bond the Bond movies, yet lacks wit or grace, offering us a sociopath with few redeeming features as a hero. Diesel's extreme sports thug is recruited by the NSA to penetrate a renegade Commie terrorist cell (the Reds are played by an Italian and a New Zealander - see also Birthday Girl). Cue chases, babes, big explosions, gadgets, villains who explain their plan in precise detail: everything you'd expect from Pierce Brosnan, except XXX tries frantically to out-do them, upping the ante in every way with an increasing sense of desperation.

Unlike 007, whom we believe can do anything largely because he's so well-dressed, OOX is somehow able to fly off the back of a motor-bike and simultaneously fire a gun with unerring precision - even when later on, he is apparently unaware what a safety catch is. This lack of thought persists throughout, e.g. the villain plans to destroy the world by submarine from atop a mountain in the land-locked Czech Republic. It was around the flaky-looking CGI avalanche that I realised this was simply not holding my interest, despite Cohen's frequent and tedious repetition of action from multiple angles. Jackson turns up as his boss, whose plastic scar is about as realistic as the movie, and Argento does the femme fatale thing. While it's nice to see Rammstein and Orbital cameoing - as does Danny Trejo - the film holds your interest for hardly any longer than their screen appearances.


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