Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? - XXX: State of the Union

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I don't know whose idea it was to try to make Ice Cube into an action star. I guess in some worlds it kind of makes sense. Former gangsta rapper with a penchant for spitting tough lyrics. Seems like giving him a gun and cool lines should work perfectly. While he does have an authentic swagger that’s hard to replicate, he’s just kind of goofy. It's hard for me to take him too seriously as he bounces back and forth between making badass quips and trying to have sex with anything with a pulse and/or DDD breasts.

For the first time in a while, I'll admit that I actually enjoyed this movie on some level. It is the right kind of dumb, where street gangs fight against the actual army being led by a traitor who is trying to seize control of the entire United States by killing the president during the State of the Union address (hence the name). The army has high tech gear and cool guns, and the street gang has pimped rides and bling.

This movie knows exactly what it is and it revels in it. It’s intentionally over the top to the point where it feels like it is satirizing itself. The original XXX was a dumb action movie, where they tried to make Vin "I ain't got friends, I got family" Diesel into a BMX riding, rave going, extreme sports-ing superspy. It was campy, and oh so ridiculously Eastern European. With State of the Union, they basically said, "Fuck it" and threw all of that other stuff out. A few characters return, like Samuel L. Jackson, and a nerdy guy who works for the NSA and likes butts, but that is about it. Vin "I ain't got friends, I got family" Diesel apparently died after the first movie (except spoiler warning, he totally didn't. Sequel time). So they just decided to ratchet up the stupid factor and in many ways the movie was genuinely better for it.


Maybe I enjoyed this movie because I watched it at two in the morning as one of my drunk friends babbled on the couch next to me. Maybe it was because I watched it just after The Pacifier, which is a whole different breed of bad. But I think it comes down to how much fun the movie is having. As they tried to weave a tale of treason and intrigue, double and triple crossing agents, it ceased to be an action film and became a comedy. It didn't make much sense at all, but there was a consistent feeling that the movie was winking at me the entire time through the screen. "Yeah the movie is dumb, but look, it's Xzibit running a chop shop and pimping cars. Remember that TV show? Because we do."

You should watch this movie.

You should watch it because it shows us exactly how to make a "bad" action flick. It is a crash course in schlock film making, and it has everything that a growing boy needs. Over the top explosions, ridiculous/slightly improbably cars, huge guns, and stunts that are mostly CG and are so dumb that they become hilarious. I'm not going to say that this is a good movie. But there is something that is simply fun about watching it. Something that takes if from a D-level action movie to something that you should probably watch.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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