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XXX: State of the Union

A disgruntled Samuel L. Jackson walks along an overly stylized hallway made up of glass tubes and groovy, futuristic lights. With all of the blandness a paycheck grubbing celebrity can muster he states, “No more bikers! No more surfers or skateboarders! The new XXX must be harder, tougher, and have more attitude!” We immediately cut to the growling face of Ice Cube in prison, and with this transition we as an audience can almost hear a group of cue-balled executives talking amongst themselves. Their main philosohpy: Extreme stunts are SO 1999. We need something new and rough to bring in the kids! Hey, kids love their rappers, right? What if a rapper was the new secret agent in our altogether pointless sequel? By jove, I think we’ve got ourselves a hit!

Of course, those executives forgot one important fact, which is that no one takes the tough-as-nails Ice Cube image seriously anymore. After the Friday trilogy and his abysmal foray into family comedies with Are We There Yet? (a film I could have sworn was the follow-up to Daddy Day-Care), Cube has all the rough edges of a platter of Flan. So when his snarling visage appeared behind bars, I couldn’t help but laugh. Thusly, the entire film is nothing more than an exercise in stupidity and hilarity, much like Torque and other films of its ilk.

To give you a quick summary of the story, the government offices of the NSA are attacked and dismantled, forcing Jackson (who is saddled with the awful character name of Gibbons) and his tech dude, a dorky white guy, to flee the scene and “go off the grid” as it were. They spring Cube, here playing a guy named Stone oddly enough, and begin unraveling a plot to overthrow the government. The man behind this scheme is the just plain eeevil Secretary of State, personified by a Willem Dafoe who looks so bored he might as well be playing Tic-Tac-Toe as he reads his lines off a cereal box. Mind you, Willem’s dastardly plan is discovered almost instantly by Cube and the gang, rendering the whole conspiracy element a bit moot.

The action sequences are fine and the soundtrack is peppered with the usual amount of overly loud rap songs, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary from those departments. What I was surprised by, however, was how incredibly racist and sexist the film was from top to bottom. I’m not kidding folks, because aside from Jackson, no one gets a free pass from the Stereotype Police. Let’s go down the line, shall we?

Male African Americans: If you are a black man in this movie, you are a member of one of these groups.

A) The Car Jacking Thugs

B) Mean Ol’ Prisoner

C) Butler – This is in reference to a very tasteless joke where Cube is identified as a “black man in a white tuxedo” by security guards only so about 3,000 of said black men in white tuxedos can appear on camera seconds later.

D) Truck Driver – Holy crap, the two black truck drivers might as well have come out of a minstrel film. They salivated at the idea of gettin’ ‘em some cheese for a snack, weighed about 500 pounds each, and actually bugged their eyes out when it’s revealed the truck doesn’t carry cheese but weapons. I half expected them to see a ghost and hide behind curtains.

E) Samuel L. Jackson

White Men: You’re either evil, too straight-laced in the rules department, or the dorky white guy who makes all of Ice Cube’s gadgets and is constantly trying to be hip only so he can be stared at rudely by the black characters. “Come on guys, let’s get krunk!” Oh, those whites and their wanting to be cool like the blacks. When will they ever learn? Actually, the President of the United States doesn’t come off as any of these, so I’d say he got off easy.

Women: Okay, first, get yourself a dress that will squeeze your cleavage up into your chin. Got the dress? Perfect. Now, stand there and look pretty, because we’re either going to make you an object who is easily manipulated by Cube or an object who is later revealed to be a double agent. Yes, I know, not much to work with, but you’re ladies, so work it, girls, work it!

Yikes, I haven’t seen this many hardcore cliches in a movie since…well, in quite some time, actually. But hey, if you want to see the President award Ice Cube a medal while quoting Tu Pac, by all means go and see XXX: State of the Union. If you don’t, we’ll never get to see XXX: Chop-Chop Whallop, starring a busty Asian lass and her Native American spirit guide, Bear Fur. I’m thinking Jude Law could play the latter part. Lord knows the boy needs exposure…

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