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|xXx: State of the Union|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lee Tamahori|
|Written by||Simon Kinberg|
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$71.1 million|
xXx: State of the Union (released as xXx²: The Next Level and xXx: State of Emergency outside North America) is a 2005 American action film directed by Lee Tamahori and a sequel to the 2002 film xXx. It is the second installment of the xXx franchise, and was produced by Revolution Studios for Columbia Pictures.
Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen, the lead actor and director of the original, had signed onto a sequel before the first film had opened, but both dropped out as Diesel disliked the script, while Cohen was busy making Stealth. Cohen remained as an executive producer. Ice Cube took over the lead role as the new xXx agent and Tamahori was brought in to direct, following the huge commercial success of the James Bond film Die Another Day, which he directed. Two different scripts were prepared for the film, and the one written by Simon Kinberg was selected; the other script featured a radically different plot.
State of the Union was a box-office bomb and it was criticized by reviewers, mainly for the performances, an illogical story, and overuse of CGI-based visual effects for most of the action sequences. State of the Union is the last film in the xXx franchise to be distributed by Columbia Pictures, as Paramount Pictures became the distributor for its future films, starting with Return of Xander Cage in 2017.
In Virginia, a rancher discovers dead bodies on his farm and is then killed by assailants. The attackers use special explosives to break into an NSA bunker beneath the horse farm. Agent Augustus Gibbons fends off the attackers before barely escaping. Shavers, Gibbons' assistant, informs him that with the attack on the NSA bunker, Alabama "Bama" Cobb also had Xander Cage apparently killed in Bora Bora. To find a new substitute, Gibbons meets with Lieutenant Darius Stone, a former U.S Navy SEAL officer, who is currently serving 9 of his 20 year sentence in Leavenworth for disobeying orders and breaking the jaw of General George Deckert, who is now the Secretary of Defense.
Gibbons helps Stone break out. Stone meets with Zeke, his old partner in crime, and Lola, his former girlfriend, who now runs an exotic car shop. Stone is instructed to recover a hard drive from the NSA bunker, and he manages to escape Agent Steele at the same time. Gibbons is attacked in his house and apparently killed, with Deckert and Sergeant Cobb covering up the plot. Stone meets up with Gibbons' contact, Mayweather, to get information. Stone goes to her safe house but is framed for the murder of 4-Star General Jack Pettibone; Mayweather is revealed to be involved.
The police arrive, and Steele enters and talks to Stone, who escapes afterwards. Shavers hacks into the Pentagon to retrieve Deckert's plans. Stone infiltrates Deckert's troops aboard the USS Independence and discovers Gibbons is not dead, but being held prisoner. Stone's presence is alerted by Mayweather. Gibbons orders Stone to escape and leave him. After retrieving the plans, Stone gets into a tank and fights his way out of the ship. He learns that Deckert is planning a coup against President Sanford.
Stone makes contact with Steele and shows him the plans. When Steele notes that his plans are not clear proof, Stone leaves in frustration, to Steele's initial disbelief. During a conversation with Deckert, Steele realizes Stone was right. He finds Stone and tells him that Deckert wants to kill Sanford and his successors so he can take Sanford's place as President, in opposition to Sanford's current plans to dismantle various military branches to focus on foreign aid.
Unable to trust legitimate law enforcement, Stone, Steele, and Shavers enlist the aid of Zeke and his crew. Together, they rob an 18-wheeler secretly hauling guns and equipment to the Department of Homeland Security under the guise of a cheese truck. They end up hijacking a tank, and Stone helps Steele infiltrate the Capitol building. A shootout starts, and Gibbons kills Mayweather. Deckert and Cobb abduct Sanford while he is making the State of the Union Address. They escape on a bullet train. Jackson arrives with a car, and Stone uses it to infiltrate the train. He engages and kills Cobb before engaging Deckert, while Steele extracts Sanford. Stone jumps out after Gibbons destroys the train, killing Deckert.
The story is covered up, and Deckert is buried and branded as a hero. Sanford awards Steele and the unknown soldier (Stone) the Medal of Honor, and Stone goes back to his former lifestyle. In the now-rebuilt NSA Headquarters, Gibbons, Steele, and Shavers discuss what kind of person the next xXx agent should be. Gibbons says that he has the perfect candidate for the job.
A soundtrack containing hip hop and alternative rock was released on April 26, 2005, through Jive Records. It peaked at #117 on the Billboard 200, #48 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and #5 on the Top Soundtracks chart.
xXx: State of the Union grossed $26.9 million in the United States and Canada and $44.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $71.1 million, against a production budget of $60 million.
It opened on April 29, 2005 and grossed $12.7 million in its opening weekend, finishing third at the box office.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 16%, based on 135 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Even more absurd and implausible than the first xXx movie, State of the Union is less inspired and technically competent than its predecessor." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Boo Allen of the Denton Record Chronicle called Ice Cube's xXx character "a chubby, surly, incomprehensible action hero". Brian Orndorf of FilmJerk.com compared watching the film to running "headfirst at top speed into a brick wall". David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer said "the plot swings between pathetically implausible and aggressively stupid". Some critics liked the film. Mack Bates of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised Ice Cube's "trademark charisma and street sensibility," while Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called it "that rare B movie that’s rooted in gut-level stirrings of power and retaliation". Paul Arendt of the BBC said, "Viewed on its own trashy terms, it succeeds brilliantly".