xXx: State of the Union ★★

What the heck. This is by far the messiest and most question raising film series I think I've ever seen. This movie has almost nothing to do with the first one other than the name and Samuel L Jackson.

The first one is pretty ridiculous but it has a lot of extreme sports culture in it which is like really cringey by modern standards and super funny to look back on. This one leans more into like mid 00's gangsta culture and relies on a lot of tropes from other "black" movies, which didn't age in the same way as the extreme sports stuff. The first one had a lot of ridiculous stunts and the action feels fun even if everything else is broken about the movie. In this one, the dialogue and plot aren't half bad, but the action scenes are really lame. Lots of bad cgi, lots of up close and shakey camera work, and a few scenes where characters just stand motionless and shoot guns at each other. Even the name... like in the first one his name is Xander, people call him X, he has a tattoo of the triple X symbol already on his neck. Gibbons calls him Triple X because of his name and he already has three strikes or something? In this one, Triple X is just a program and Darius is just a former army guy who is a badass. Why didn't they call him like Xavier Stone or Xerxes or something so that the X thing would make more sense? And barely anybody even refers to him as Triple X or X. So like why is this even Triple X?

I found it really funny how they handle the transition from the last XXX to this one. Gibbons just says "we need a new, more badass Triple X" and then later somebody brings up that Xander Cage was killed off screen during his vacation to Bora Bora.

I keep comparing it to the first one because I don't have much to say about this. Willem Dafoe and Samuel L Jackson are good in this but Ice Cube doesn't really sell it (other than just being generally mad all the time). The plot is not terrible and there are a few scenes I really like. When he's working with Charlie to infiltrate the fancy dinner is fun and when she sets him up shortly after is also good. The tank scene on the boat is also not bad. The comedy in this is pretty bad. I feel no emotional attachment to any of the characters.

It's not horrible, but it's pretty bad.