XXX (2002 film)
xXx (pronounced as Triple X) is a 2002 American spy thriller directed by Rob Cohen, produced by Neal H. Moritz and written by Rich Wilkes. The first installment in the xXx franchise, the film stars Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, a thrill-seeking extreme sports enthusiast, stuntman and rebellious athlete-turned reluctant spy for the National Security Agency. Cage is sent on a dangerous mission to infiltrate a group of potential Russian terrorists in Central Europe. The film also stars Asia Argento, Marton Csokas and Samuel L. Jackson. Cohen had previously directed The Fast and the Furious (2001), in which Diesel also starred.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Cohen|
|Produced by||Neal H. Moritz|
|Written by||Rich Wilkes|
|Music by||Randy Edelman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$277.4 million|
The film received a 48% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it a "missed opportunity", and grossed $277.4 million worldwide. It was followed by two sequels, State of the Union (2005) and Return of Xander Cage (2017).
A biochemical weapon, "Silent Night", presumed missing since the fall of the Soviet Union, is obtained by Anarchy 99, a Russian terrorist group with formal military training. The NSA send an undercover agent to recover the weapon, but Anarchy 99's skills easily see through the deception and assassinate him.
NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons suggests that they need to send someone who lacks ties to the US Government. Gibbons identifies Xander Cage, an extreme sports professional known as "X" but also wanted by the FBI for his acts of protest against a predominate Senator. Gibbons's team abducts Cage, and puts him through two field tests, stopping a staged diner robbery, and escaping from a Columbian cartel's plantation in the midst of an army raid. Cage passes, and Gibbons offers him the job, promising to wipe his criminal records clean or otherwise sending him to prison. Cage accepts.
Cage is sent to Prague to meet with the NSA support team, which includes Czech agent Milan Sova. Sova has been tasked to watch Cage and deport him back to America should he fall out of line, quickly riling Cage. During their first task, scouting an Anarchy 99 party, Cage purposely identifies Sova as a US agent to Anarachy 99's leader, Yorgi, earning him favor with the group. Later, Cage attends a car deal with Yorgi, which Sova attempts to intercede. Cage appears to shoot Sova and kill him, and Yorgi makes Cage a member of Anarchy 99; in reality, Cage was able to use fake blood splatters to fake Sova's death.
Yorgi brings Cage back to a castle that serves as Anarchy 99's headquarters and introduces him to Yelena, his girlfriend. Cage, while searching for weapon that night, catches Yelena also searching for it, and takes her to a nearby restaurant to discuss the matter, and explains his true identity. A sniper for Yorgi, watching the pair, contacts Yelena to tell her they already knew of Cage's identity, making her a liability to their group. Cage and Yelena stage a fight to escape, but NSA suddenly appears to capture Cage, while Yelena is taken back to Anarchy 99.
Cage meets with Gibbons who demands he return to America now that his cover is blown, and that special forces are planning to siege the castle to recover the weapon. Cage refuses, fearing for Yelena's life, as well as being bitter that Sova purposely blew his cover. He evades the NSA to sneak into Yorgi's castle to rescue Yelena, but overhears Yorgi's plan to launch "Silent Night" from a water-borne drone named Ahab into several major cities. Cage frees Yelena and they escape to a safehouse, where Yelena explains that she is an FSB agent that started to get close to Yorgi two years before, but her handlers abandoned her. Cage relays Yorgi's plans to the NSA, who prepare a coordinated attack on the castle. Cage snowboards from a helicopter to start an avalanche over a communications outpost used by Anarachy 99 to help the NSA. However, he is recaptured by Yorgi, who already knew of Yelena's true identity. Just as Yorgi prepares to kill them, the special forces launch their attack. Cage and Yelena free their restraints and Cage kills Yorgi, but not before he launches Ahab, armed with "Silent Night", towards the center of Prague.
Cage contacts Gibbons, who notifies the Czech military to prepare to destroy Ahab with airstrikes, even though this will release some of the biochemical agent. Cage and Yelena take a Pontiac GTO, heavily modified by Cage earlier, to race alongside the river to catch up to Ahab. Cage harpoons the drone and crosses over to it, and is able to disable the weapon moments before it goes off. Cage and Yelena are recovered, and Gibbons follows through on his promises to Cage as well as providing Yelena with American citizenship. Later, Cage and Yelena are relaxing in Bora Bora when Gibbons contacts Cage to offer him another mission. Cage ignores him.
- Vin Diesel as Xander Cage / xXx
- Asia Argento as Yelena
- Samuel L. Jackson as NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons
- Marton Csokas as Yorgi
- Michael Roof as NSA Agent Toby Lee Shavers
- Richy Müller as Milan Sova
- Werner Daehn as Kirill
- Petr Jákl as Kolya
- Jan Pavel Filipensky as Viktor
- Tom Everett as California state senator Dick Hotchkiss
- Danny Trejo as El Jefe
- Thomas Ian Griffith as NSA Agent Jim McGrath
- Eve as J.J.
- Leila Arcieri as Jordan King
- William Hope as NSA Agent Roger Donnan
- Radek Tomecka as Ivan Pedgrag
- Martin Hub as Ivan Podrov
- Joe Bucaro III as Virg
- Chris Gann as T.J.
To support Xander Cage's credibility within extreme sport subcultures, various personalities make cameo appearances, including Tony Hawk, Mike Vallely, Carey Hart, Mat Hoffman and Josh Todd. Rammstein appear as themselves in the opening concert sequence.
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In August 2001, Sony put a large billboard of XXX in Hollywood, before a script had been written. There was also a teaser trailer released on May 3, 2002. It was then attached to Spider-Man, and shown on the web.
Filming took place at three locations. Most of the film is set in Prague, Czech Republic. The Corvette jump was filmed at the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn State Recreation Area, Auburn, California. The final scenes were set in Bora Bora, Tahiti, and other areas in southern West Virginia.
Stunt player Harry O'Connor, Diesel's stunt double, was killed when he hit a pillar of the Palacký Bridge in Prague, para-sailing during one of the action scenes. The accident occurred while filming the second take of the stunt; O'Connor's first attempt was completed without incident and can be seen in the completed film.
The first few minutes of the film take place at a concert of German metal music band Rammstein in Prague. The same clip is available, but from the band's perspective (with only brief scenes from the film) in their video compilation Lichtspielhaus.
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The film score was composed by Randy Edelman, a frequent collaborator of Cohen's. The film also featured a contemporary rock music soundtrack. Rammstein provided some of the music and was even featured in the film in the opening scene. During the club scene in Prague, Orbital can be seen playing their exclusive track "Technologicque Park" live before the dancing crowd. The soundtrack album also features Queens of the Stone Age, Drowning Pool, Hatebreed, Nelly, Lil Wayne, N.E.R.D, and Moby. It was released on August 6, 2002 through Universal Records. It peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200, #16 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #1 on the Top Soundtracks. The "Tweaker remix" of the song "Adrenaline" by Gavin Rossdale (the lead singer of Bush) was featured was in the film, while the original version is included on the soundtrack. None of Edelman's score was included on the album, with a separate disc of his work released by Varese Sarabande.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 48% of the critics gave the film positive reviews based on a sample of 178 reviews; the average score is 5.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "It has an endearing lack of seriousness, and Vin Diesel has more than enough muscle for the starring role, but ultimately, XXX is a missed opportunity to breathe new life into the spy thriller genre." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 and a half stars out of 4, writing, "In its own punk way, XXX is as good as a good Bond movie, and that's saying something." It grossed $277.4 million.
Director's cut versionEdit
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The director's cut DVD of the film was released on April 19, 2005, ten days before the sequel, State of the Union was released in cinemas. The director's cut featured new artwork, and deleted scenes previously unseen. Some of these include additional scenes that foreshadowed Xander as a hero, and also a longer stripper-in-the-bedroom sequence. There were also sneak peeks at the sequel. Interestingly for Director's cuts, these scenes were cut by the director himself, for length and pacing. It also contains an extra titled, The Final Chapter: The Death of Xander Cage, a four-minute short film that attempts to tie up some loose ends about the Xander Cage character by showing his gory demise.
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The film was followed by a sequel in 2005, entitled xXx: State of the Union, starring the rapper Ice Cube and directed by Lee Tamahori. Neither Diesel, Cohen, nor XXX creator Rich Wilkes were involved in the sequel, and there were notable differences in both style (less emphasis on extreme sports) and music (rock music was replaced with hip hop and rap). XXX: State of the Union was poorly received by critics. It currently has a rating of 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. The sequel was also a financial failure, making less than expected when compared to the original film. In January 2014, Vin Diesel confirmed work on a sequel tentatively titled xXx: Return of Xander Cage. On August 23, 2015, Vin Diesel announced on his Instagram page that "While I was filming XXX, guys on set called me Air Diesel... The time to return has come. Filming starts December in the Philippines. #ILiveForThisShit...". On October 10, 2015, it was reported that director D. J. Caruso will direct the third film. Diesel announced on his Instagram account that UFC fighter Conor McGregor was cast in a role and Samuel L. Jackson will be reprising his role as Gibbons. In January 2016, Twitch reports that Tony Jaa, Jet Li and Deepika Padukone are cast in roles, Nina Dobrev and Ruby Rose were cast in roles with Dobrev as a witty and sarcastic techie, Padukone as a huntress who happens to be Cage’s former lover and Rose will play a sniper and Li was confirmed in the film as the leader of his own team and will square off against Cage, it's whether he is the ultimate villain of the pic remains to be seen. Andrey Ivchenko was confirmed to be another villain in the film as one of the big bads Diesel is set to lock horns with, given that earlier reports revealed Li also joined the threequel as a potential adversary. On February 12, 2016, reports brought in the news that Jet Li dropped out of the film and was replaced with Donnie Yen in the role of the main antagonist.
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