Directed by: Lee Tamahori
Written by:Simon Kinberg
Starring: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Peter Strauss
Released: April 28, 2005
Grade: C-

I save my worst grade for those films which truly deserve it.  XXX: The Next Level is one of those films.

The film doesn’t go into much detail but the previous XXX was killed.  I find this hard to believe since Vin Diesel managed to avoid every unbelievable situation put in front of him in the previous film.  Anyway, Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is looking for a new XXX and believes the man for the job is Darius Stone (Ice Cube).

The problem is that Darius is currently serving a 20-year sentence in the slammer.  Not a man for paperwork, Augustus helps Darius escape from the prison.  The finale to the escape is ludicrous.  Darius jumps blindly from the prison roof (after being shot at repeatedly) and manages to grab hold of the side of helicopter which just happens to fly by.  He wasn’t even looking when he jumped!  This is fortunate for the audience because if Darius were to jump one second later, the film would have been 80 minutes shorter.

Now that the new XXX has been recruited, the focus turns to saving the world.  The American defence minister, George Deckert (Dafoe), isn’t happy that the President is cutting the defence budget.  So to get back at him, he’s going to kill both the President and the Vice President so that he can seize control of the country.  Of course, the CIA, FBI, etc are unknowing of this and are powerless to Deckert.  The only man who can stop him is the escaped convict, XXX.

Action, action, action is then the focus (if it wasn’t already).  There’s an array of expense stunts performed by stunt doubles.  The most unrealistic involves XXX riding a speed boat up a construction ramp which then precisely lands on top a police car on the bridge.  The police car explodes and the officers duck for cover.  This allows XXX to save a friend and escape undetected.

If this sounds like your idea of a good night’s entertainment, don’t let me stop you.  XXX: The Next Level is an action showcase.  Then again, if you’re like me and prefer your action films to have a story, forget it.