XXX: State of the Union
dir. Tamahori
Opens Fri April 29
Various Theaters

XXX: State of the Union begins with a tranquil farm scene--and then, before you've even been able to decipher whether or not what you're watching is another preview--it blasts into action as suddenly as the bullet trains, souped-up sports cars, and helicopters that star in the movie. The effect is somewhat like being on a jerky rollercoaster with bad one-liners, clichés, a couple of killer-fast loops, and your host, Ice Cube.

Cube plays Darius Stone, a Navy Seal from the 'hood, who NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) busts out of military prison to save the "state of the union," as it were. The details aren't important.

What's most laugh-out-loud hilarious here are the ludicrously unpredictable stunts (like improvising a speedboat ramp onto a bridge festered with cop cars and civilians, or driving an incredibly fast car onto train tracks so quickly that the tires blow off, forming a mini, sporty train car), which are pulled off by Cube with the same amount of brow-furrowing most people use to execute a tricky shot in billiards. (This sentiment--like the rest of the film--shares much with the vain fantasies boys have when they're checking themselves out in the mirror in their underwear after benching their first set of 20.)

The problem is that XXX is sub-par--even within its crappy genre--when it comes to corny lines. Most of the humor is derived from the juxtaposition of white guys' world versus black guys' world, executed in the most generic ways you could possibly think of. But there are cool vehicles, okay fight scenes, minimal character development, hot women only, and possibly the limpest definition of American freedom ever: "The ability to jack and hack cars on the same block as the White House." Please. Even the actors couldn't act like that moved them.