New blood

Starring Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, and Asia Argento. Directed by Rob Cohen. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0 XXX comes on like a James Bond-style extravaganza retooled for the X-treme sports generation. It’s got the gadgets, the sexual swagger, and the souped-up international intrigue of 007, but with a makeover that includes hip-hop, cyber-punk, and skateboards.

The triple-x of the title refers to Xander Kaye (Vin Diesel), an outlaw stuntman who is more or less kidnapped into duty as an American agent for some post-Cold War action in Eastern Europe. With his shaved head and massive biceps, Diesel’s cool muscle boy might qualify as a post-punk 007, but in this film he comes off more like a videogame action figure with a touch of Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

Director Rob Cohen portrays him as an indefatigable connoisseur of adrenaline rushes, one who is evidently blessed with the endless energy of a cartoon superhero. And Diesel’s physique notwithstanding, the movie’s relentlessly inflated action sequences have little physical reality to them.

Cohen’s combination of fast cutting, elaborate slow motion, spectacular set-ups, and digital tweaking is weightlessly abstract in its overall effect. For all of its furious action, this ceaselessly agitated amusement has a numbing effect that sets in early on. It’s as hollowly amusing—and as disposable—as an expensive-looking TV commercial.