Movie review, 'XXX'

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Inside the boardroom of Revolution Studios, the company behind "XXX."

Suit #1: OK gentlemen, let's call the meeting to order. With the sagging spy genre, there's room for us to pounce. No more tuxedoed guys with accents, small guns and shaken drinks.

Suit #2: Well, there's been a suggestion from Rob Cohen.

Suit #1: The guy who directed that gearhead movie?

Suit #2: "The Fast and the Furious."

Suit #1: Why is he suddenly hot? Didn't Cohen turn in "Dragonheart" and "The Skulls"?

Suit #3: Yeah, but "The Fast and the Furious" did make more money than God last year...

Suit #2: And he's bringing Vin Diesel to star. That guy damn near broke his hip with that swagger in "Pitch Black."

Suit #1: OK, OK. But here's what we need: something fresh, something the younger crowd will connect with...my kids love PlayStation. They're glued to MTV and the X Games. We need something pre-sold and critic proof. What can we steal? Um, I mean, borrow and adapt.

Suit #2: Maybe we can learn from the Olympics.

Suit #3: The Olympics?

Suit #2: Yeah...they got huge ratings this past year by skewing young, hooking kids in with extreme-sports such as like snowboarding. And curling.

Suit #1: OK, OK, here's what we're going to do. We'll be three times as intense - we'll call it "XXX." Hell, we might even get some crossover traffic from adult entertainment audience.

Suit #3: Better yet, we'll make Diesel an extreme-sports star, a smart-talker who breaks the law one too many times - protesting censorship, of course - and gets a chance to redeem himself by becoming a secret agent. Let's call him Xander, tattoo him up - we'll put three X's on the back his neck!

Suit #1: Oooh, that's subtle. And his friends call him "X."

Suit #2: Brilliant! We can get Sam Jackson for the mentor role. It'll give us some indie credibility. He won't get much screen time, so we'll have to give him a scar or facial burn instead of character development.

Suit #3: Get the guys from the music division on the line - tell them we need some hot new puberty music. Tell the audio mixer to bring the levels to "brain hemorrhage." Who says you can't buy "cool"?

Suit #1: (Straight faced) But won't it feel like we're reaching? I mean, kids are smarter than that. They'll see right through us. We're not setting trends, we're blindly following them. And there's nothing sadder when adults try to use "youth lingo." Teens know when they are being pandered and talked down to. All: (Pause. Then riotous laughter!)

Suit #1: (Wiping the tears from his eyes) Ha ha ha...OK, OK. Let's get some extreme-sports stars for cameos, whashisname - find Tony Hawk, my nanny spent all last Christmas Eve trying to find his skateboard video game for my kids. You know what I'd like to see? One-liner punch lines. Y'know, he's gotta say something cool after he shoots someone, or survives a stunt. Remember, we're reinventing here. Under a PG-13 rating, of course.

Suit #2: How about: "Hasta la vista baby!"?

Suit #1: I think that one's taken. Have the script doctor work on it. OK, now we need gadgets, girls and exotic locations. But we need to keep the cost down. Has every square inch of Prague been filmed yet?

Suit #3: Well, it's been in "The Bourne Identity," "From Hell," "Bad Company"...

Suit #1: Not too bad yet, book it. Whatever we do though: no stealing passwords, discs or breaking into computers, that stuff is boooring. But it's a spy film, so we do need guns and gadgets. How about we give X a big gun with candy-colored bullets that do different things? One will kill you, one will knock you out, etc. And no more stuffy suits. Let's get this guy in a raggedy fur coat. That's cool, isn't it?

Suit #2: (Hesitantly)...Um, yeah. Can we give him a shoe phone?

Suit #1: (Ignoring him) We need villains with accents. Why hasn't there been a decent Russian baddie in years? We need to bring 'em back.

Suit #3: Um, sir. The Soviet Union collapsed years ago.

Suit #1: Our audience doesn't know politics! How about some fringe group then? Nazis? Anarchists? Wait! Epiphany moment: It'll be a paramilitary group called Anarchy 2000. They don't want money and just want to see world markets and society as a whole crumble...

Suit #3: Won't Anarchy 2000 seem kind of dated? I mean everything was named 2000 a couple years ago.

Suit #1: Well, Anarchy 99 sounds just as cool. Have a focus group put on it.

Suit #3: But what does Anarchy 99 want? If they want to crush society, won't that put a kink in their supply of designer drugs, high-end stereo equipment and a health supply of talcum powder to get them into leather pants?

Suit #1: So they aren't smart bad guys, just evil, OK? But they definitely want everyone dead. A biological weapon will do...

Suit #2: And a submarine. It'll shoot a deadly chemical mixture into cities without detection. Better yet, let's make it a solar submarine.

Suit #1: We can't afford a submarine.

Suit #2: Well, maybe it'll just skim across the surface of the water.

Suit #3: That's somehow less menacing, and not at all like a solar submarine, but it'll do. We'll go retro, but not silly, and make it look like something out of "Buck Rogers."

Suit #1: Ok, we're almost done here. What we really need are some cutting-edge action sequences. You know what I haven't seen in a long time? An Evil Knievel-style motorcycle stunt. How about this: our hero jumps over a burning barn - better yet, he jumps while being fired on by a helicopter - and uses the disintegrating roof as a landing ramp!

Suit #2: You are a god.

Suit #1: Thank you. I know.

Suit #3: Can we do some of this with computers?

Suit #1: We'll have X outrun an avalanche on a snowboard. That should do it. You know what? Have the computer boys simulate snow and debris hitting the camera, so it looks more real.

Suit #3: OK, so what we have here are: gadgets, weapons, cutting-edge puberty music - let's not forget jacked-up cars - and a secret agent that spews out clever one-liners after mass destruction. Oh, and Russians. Yessiree, we're really breaking new ground, reinventing the zeitgeist.

Suit #1: Sold. OK, set up the product placements. Call Motorola for a video cell phone doohickey. And have MTV play preview programs and ads on the hour. I want the buzz so hot on this one, teens will crawl through broken glass to catch the shine of Diesel's bald noggin.

Suit #3: Aren't we missing a scantily clad love interest?

Suit #1: Just get some disposable beauty with an accent. She won't be in the sequel anyway.

Suit #3: But what will we call the sequel?

Suit #1: "XXXX"?

Suit #2: Brilliant!

2 stars (out of 4)
"XXX"

Directed by Rob Cohen; screenplay by Rick Wilkes; photographed by Dean Semler; edited by Chris Lebenzon, Paul Rubell, and Joel Negron; production design by Gavin Bocquet; produced by Neal H. Moritz. A Revolution Studios release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:53. MPAA rating: PG-13 (violence, non-stop action sequences, sensuality, drug content and language).
Xander Cage.....Vin Diesel
Yelena.....Asia Argento
Yorgi.....Marton Csokas
Agent Augustus Gibbons.....Samuel L. Jackson
Toby Lee Shavers.....Michael Roof

Robert K. Elder is a Chicago Tribune Staff Writer.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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