XXX; Murray Close
EW Staff
April 19, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

XXX

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
124 minutes
Wide Release Date
08/09/02
performer
Asia Argento, Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, TeeJay Boyce, Joe Bucaro III, Marton Csokas, Eve, Tony Hawk
director
Rob Cohen
distributor
Columbia Pictures
author
Rich Wilkes
genre
ActionAdventure, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a D

”It’s a Vin Diesel movie” is how Vin Diesel describes it. Enough said. But here’s a little more anyway: Diesel plays Xander Cage, a.k.a. XXX, a snarling, antisocial extreme-sports enthusiast who’s recruited by a supersecret government agency (headed by Jackson) to put his unique athletic abilities to use as a spy. Director Cohen describes exactly what that means: ”He surfs down a stairway using a waiter’s tray. He steals a senator’s Corvette and drives it off a bridge and surfs on it all the way down. He does stunts on a motocross freestyle bike while being chased by a helicopter with a Vulcan cannon. Basically, we’re reinventing the spy movie.”

And, they hope, inventing a franchise that, if all goes according to plan, will turn Diesel into the hottest secret agent since that English dude who’s always shaking his martinis. It’s an expensive gamble — Sony is investing upwards of $90 million in the film — but Diesel and Cohen do have a proven track record. The two teamed up for last year’s ”The Fast and the Furious,” which ended up reinventing the hot-rod movie to the tune of $145 million. Plus, there does seem to be an opening for a new big-screen spy these days.

”Look, James Bond is cool,” says Diesel. ”He’s the father of all movie spies. But James Bond is a leftover from the Clark Gable mentality. James Bond is a guy in a suit, and I don’t know a kid today who wears a suit. My character is totally different. He doesn’t give a s— about anything but himself and his thrills. He’s a guy who’s proficient at what he does because of all the time he spent not doing his homework and instead learning how to do Superman seat grabs on a motocross.”

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