Another Vin Diesel franchise, another sequel without
Vin Diesel. That's right: While the bald guy plays with
the preschool set (The Pacifier), rapper-actorproducer Ice Cube steps in as the titular rebel-hero in the followup to the $142 million-grossing hit XXX. So did Diesel's character have an extreme-sports mishap or something? ''In the beginning [of the film], they mention that he's no longer working for the agency,'' explains Ice Cube. ''They're gonna use a new XXX in each movie.'' But whereas Diesel's version aced the giant slalom and saved the world from Eurotrash villains, Ice Cube's incarnation is a streetwise Special Forces officer sprung from military prison to help foil a government coup in Washington, D.C. ''He's a full-blown killing machine,''
notes director Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day), who promises a conspiracy thriller plot to complement the daredevil stunts (exploding trains! a 600-foot dive!). Not exactly like his shooting days chillin' at the Barbershop. ''I climbed a [ladder] chain of an aircraft carrier from the ocean to the ship. That's high,'' says Ice Cube. ''I don't know if any [stunts] are fun. Any phobia you got, you're gonna lose it quick.''