After Agent Augustus Gibbons' (Jackson) facility is attacked,
leaving most of his operatives dead, he is forced to take his xXx program
underground to find out who is behind the assault. Now he needs a new type
of xXx, one that can take the fight to them and is a military specialist.
Enter Darius Stone (Cube), ex-Navy S.E.A.L. and current military prisoner,
a rouge soldier with exceptional stills he is just the man to be the new
Even after the success of the first movie, star Vin Diesel
decided not to return for the invertible sequel but can the franchise survive
without its star.
With only Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Roof returning from
the original film, the filmmakers behind the action follow up had to come
up with a change to the concept. Now xXx is a NSA operation and not a person
that Agent Gibbons is still over seeing. This means that anyone can be a
xXx and a person can be picked for the specialist operation. This opens
the franchise to infinite change and possibilities.
With the xXx from the first movie, Xander Cage killed off
(something we just hear about) the new agent is a complete change from the
original extreme sports star. Ice Cube's Darius Stone is still the same
hot headed, risk taking rebel who really doesn't like authority but Stone
has a completely different skill set. He is an ex-Navy S.E.A.L, sniper and
expert diver who ended up in military prison after a mission went disastrously
wrong. So now we have a hip-hop star/gangster/soldier that takes no prisoners
and does everything with an attitude. Ice Cube fits the role perfectly.
He might look slightly too overweight for the role but he takes the action
sequences well and can handle himself in a fight.
Samuel L. Jackson returns to the role of Agent Augustus Gibbons.
He is only in the film briefly however and he could have really done with
some more screen time. Michael Roof also returns as the series answer to
Q, Agent Toby Lee Shavers. He doesn't get to design as many gadgets this
time around but he is on screen a lot more. Joining the returning cast is
Willem Dafoe as Senator George Deckert, the US Secretary of Defence. He
is your typical action film villain with grandiose plans and does a lot
of monologing but the role doesn't really push Dafoe's talents to the limit.
Scott Speedman gets another chance to shine as Agent Kyle Steele, the all
American hero NSA Agent. There are also some noticeable smaller roles for
Nona Gaye and Sunny Mabrey.
With some good action sequences and a plot that isn't too
taxing on the brain, 'xXx 2: The Next Level' is a decent improvement on
the original and an entertaining popcorn movie. While it will never have
what it takes to compete with the Bond and Bourne franchises, this is still
high-octane action for the extreme sports generation.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented extremely well, highlighting the energetic action sequences.
Director Lee Tamahori and screenwriter Simon Kinberg provide an informative
and chatty commentary for the xXx sequel. They highlight the differences
between this and the original as they tried to make the film noticeably
different in style and look. They also talk extensively about casting
and beefing up the role of Samuel L. Jackson. This is a decent commentary
that covers most of the film's production.
Visual Effects Commentary
Visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar and computer graphics supervisor
Jenny Head that you through the technical aspects of the movie. The pair
reveals how all of the elaborate set pieces and action sequences are put
together in a very chatty and informative commentary track.
From Convict to Hero: The Making of xXx: The Next Level (48. 47 mins)
Split into two parts entitled 'Part I: Boot Camp' and 'Part II: Special
Ops', director Lee Tamahori, producer Arne L. Schmidt, screenwriter Simon
Kinberg, production designer Gavin Bocquet, costume designer Sanja Milkovic
Hays, technical advisors Dave Kennedy and Harry Humphries, stunt coordinator
Mike Gunther, fight coordinator Marcus Young, visual effects supervisor
Scott Farrar, composer Marco Beltrami and stars Ice Cube, Willem Defoe,
Samuel L Jackson, Sunny Mabrey, Scott Speedman, Nona Gaye and Xzibit give
you a comprehensive look at the making of the second movie in the xXx
franchise. The documentary looks at all aspects of the films production
from the original script, that included Xander Cage, through pre-production,
production and the creation of the special effects in post production.
With all the cast talking about their roles and the director revealing
how he approached the sequel. This a good behind the scenes look at a
big budget action movie.
Featurettes (19.39 mins)
Split into three parts entitled 'Bullet Train Breakdown', 'Top Secret
Military Warehouse' and 'xXx: According to Ice Cube', director Lee Tamahori,
screenwriter Simon Kinberg, producer Arne L. Schmidt, production designer
Gavin Bocquet, costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays, technical advisor
Dave Kennedy and stars Ice Cube, Samuel L Jackson, Scott Speedman, Nona
Gaye and Xzibit, the featurettes take you through the storyboards and
Pre-Vis for the action sequences. They also look at the gadgets and technology
of the film and star Ice Cube talks about what he and his character bring
to the franchise.
Deleted Scenes (2.23 mins)
Entitled 'Bama shoots wounded Agent', 'President gives speech at Lincoln
Memorial' and 'Steele's Team operates the robot', these deleted scenes
have optional commentary from director Lee Tamahori.
Previews of 'Man of the House', 'D.E.B.S.' and 'Bewitched'
For a single disc DVD package this is extremely good. The documentary
and featurettes cover all aspects of the films production and the deleted
scenes have commentary by the director. The commentary tracks are also
very good. All of this together means that this is a great package for
fans and an example of how a single disc should be put together.
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