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xXxXXX on Blu-ray

Vin Diesel plays the “anti-Bond” in this rollicking spy yarn that draws liberally and unashamedly from the classic spy movie franchise.

Diesel is Xander Cage, an “adrenaline junkie” who’s part athlete, part showman, and part self-anointed judge/jury/vigilante. We meet him as he pronounces and performs sentence on a California state senator he deems is “a dick” (and from the brief bit we see of the pol he may be right) by stealing and wrecking his car in a most spectacular fashion.

Xander, known to his friends as “X,” is recruited by the tough as nails agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) who gives him the choice of becoming a secret agent or going to jail (tough decision, eh?) and puts him through a couple of life-or-death tests to see if he has the right stuff to out-Bond James.

Well, as it turns out, X lives for the stuff they put him through and is subsequently sent into action in the Czech Republic, where a group called Anarchy 99 is up to no good.

It’s classic spy stuff, without breaking any new ground, but made fresh by X’s anti-establishment character and Diesel’s strong portrayal of the hero. The stunts are big and spectacular, the cars are fast and furious and the women typical of the genre.

Rob Cohen’s direction is fine for the most part, but we noticed that you have to sit through every big stunt from every angle at which it was filmed and this not only slows down the action but tends to desensitize you from its excitement. Perhaps they had to justify the expense of having all those cameras around by making sure the footage made it to the final film…

We also had problems with the score. While some of it is classic symphonic stuff, a lot of it is hard driving techno and though in places it was necessary for the story, in other places it just gets in the way rather than enhancing the mood unobtrusively.

Still, none of this makes the movie unwatchable and, instead, help showcase the fact that this is meant to be “not your ordinary Bond film.”

So fans of the genre will undoubtedly enjoy XXX. It has explosions, fast cars and fast women, big guns, and a megalomaniacal villain worthy of any Bond movie.

So how does it stack up as a Blu-ray? Well, it looks very good, but it isn't the best Blu-ray we've seen so far. It looks like the people who mastered the disc should have hosed it down a bit before unleashing it on us (though we still think it looks better than the DVD). And while some scenes look extremely good, and beautifully detailed, others don't. Overall we like it, though.

The audio certainly delivers. It's presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround audio and your home theater will love it. It's loud, directional and wraps you in sound, with an impressive dynamic range. Crank it!

Extras? Forget it. There are none.

XXX - from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
124 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, PCM Uncompressed 5.1 surround
Starring Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Scokas, Samuel L. Jackson
Produced by Neal H. Moritz
Written by Rich Wilkes, Directed by Rob Cohen

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