"Stop thinking Prague police and start thinking PlayStation. Blow shit up!"—Xander Cage, handily summing up the premise of the movie.
xXx (spoken as "Triple X") is a 2002 action film starring Vin Diesel, who stars as the rebellious Genius Bruiser Xander Cage, a fugitive stuntman pressed into service by the NSA chief Samuel L. Jackson. What follows is a series of action-movie-setting "tests" of Xander to see if he is ready for the mission for which he had been recruited: the infiltration of anarchistic terrorist group "Anarchy 99". The leaders of this group are former KGB agents, trained to sniff out American spies, which means that this mission vast majority of regular, less x-treme NSA agents have been deemed unfit.
The film has at its core the subversion or outright rejection of many of the Tuxedo and Martini tropes (for better or worse), and an extended sequence at the beginning (where a tux-clad NSA agent completely fails at his mission and gets killed at a heavy metal concert) is clearly a Take That to James Bond. While financially successful, the EXTREME-ness of the film makes it falls into Totally Radical territory from time to time, and much of what it has to recommend in it the Darker and Edgier front was done later (and, most critics agree, better) by Bond himself in the Casino Royale remake.
Still, if you're in the mood for Stuff Blowing Up, "Non-Stop Action Sequences" (as the clearly-paid-for MPAA warning says), plenty of X-Game athlete cameos, and Vin Diesel badass-ery, you might like this.
Followed by the poorly-received Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome based installment xXx: State of the Union (known as xXx2: The Next Level outside the US and Canada) which stars Ice Cube as Ex-Navy Seal Darius Stone, who joins the NSA after Xander's apparent death (or at least Vin Diesel's stand-in) and is specifically said to be "tougher and nastier" than Xander.
- Abnormal Ammo: Xander gets a modified revolver that shoots interchangeable rounds, ranging from Staged Shooting capsules complete with fake blood to some kind of surveillance bug. Unfortunately the film ignores the weapon most of the time.
- Action Girl: Yelena
- Artistic License: Law: Xander's stunt at the beginning couldn't trigger the Three Strikes law, as they cannot be three felonies from the same "transaction." Also, they would be state crimes and he wouldn't be sent to Leavenworth (a federal prison). Gibbons was using hyperbole.
- Awesome but Impractical: Xander's car, packed with machine guns, flamethrowers, and missiles, proves to be utterly helpless against the aquatic Ahab. Cue Indy Ploy.
- Badass: Augustus Gibbons (played by Samuel L. Jackson).
- Beyond the Impossible: Stone is said to have made the highest dive in the Navy history at 250 ft. The current world record is 177 ft and it ended in serious injury like virtually all jumps from more than 150 ft.
- Batman Gambit: Gibbons successfully "inspires" Cage in the first film into gathering intelligence on what's beneath Anarchy 99's fortress by telling him there's a sweeper team ready to wipe out everyone there (who Cage assumes to include Yelena). There isn't, but by that point he's interested in Yelena so wants to stay anyway.
- Black Leader Guy: Augustus Gibbons is not bald but the rest fits. High-ranking NSA official, prefiguring his future role as Nick Fury.
- Cameo: Several X-Games athletes as themselves in the opening sequence.
- Capulet Counterpart: Yelena
- Chekhov's Skill: In the second movie, Stone is said to hold the Navy record in diving at 250 ft. Guess how he avoids death during the final showdown.
- Combat Pragmatist: Yorgi tries to just shoot the protagonists, but the room exploded.
- Cool Car: A '67 Pontiac GTO, stuffed with gadgets and weaponry. Stealing cool cars is also Anarchy 99's main business, there's a room full of them early in the film.
- Death Faked for You: The Czech cop, which causes his Face Heel Turn and delays the girl's High Heel Face Turn.
- Diegetic Switch: The movie opens with a Bond Expy being chased through back alleys to the sounds of Rammstein - Feuer Frei. He later stumbles into an actual Rammstein concert, where he is murdered.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Xander in the sequel.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Check out the Corvette... it totally explodes before hitting the ground. Yorgi's boat, too.
- Evil vs. Evil: Gibbons discusses this by way of explaining his reasoning for recruiting criminals.
"Do we drop another mouse into the snake pit, or do we send our own snake and let him crawl in?"
- Expy: Xander = Dom from The Fast and the Furious with a bike focus instead of cars.
- Fan Service: "Oh, the things I'm gonna do for my country."
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Xander is apparently so good at weapons from his First Person Shooter experience.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Oddly averted. The assassin in the infamous Take That has an incredibly difficult task - hit someone in the middle of a mosh pit several dozen yards away with a handgun. The assassin selects a scoped, laser-sight assisted gun, assumes a prone position, rests the handgun on a stone railing and waits patiently for a clear center-mass shot.
- Innocent Innuendo: After his prison escape, it's implied that Darius immediately sought out a woman to have sex with. But the camera reveals that all the slurping and the "Who's your daddy?" comments are just him ravaging a cheeseburger.
- Instant Sedation
- Jerkass: The Senator who gets his car stolen by Xander near the beginning.
- Made of Explodium
- Oh Crap: The giant henchman's face when he sees Cage holding the detonator to a bomb on the bike he is riding.
- Outrun the Fireball: Avalanche actually, but the effect is the same, and it still requires defying the laws of physics to pull off.
- Parking Payback: What Xander does to the congressman's car.
- Perpetual Tourist: In the end, Cage finally travels to Bora Bora.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The movie is rumored to have come about after Columbia couldn't get the James Bond rights. See Take That, below.
- Refuge in Audacity: Look at the title. And used literally in the movie itself by using some over the top biker-looking guy that will never made it through spy training as no bad guy would ever believe he is a spy, at least at first.
- Reverse Mole: Yelena is actually another undercover spy.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Justified in that it's much easier to switch custom ammunition with a revolver than with a magazine.
- Sequel Non Entity
- Sherlock Scan: Xander, in the cafe
- Shout-Out: Triple X was the codename of a Russian secret agent, Bond's opposite number, in The Spy Who Loved Me. It was actually the Bond Girl, but there is a bit of misdirection at the start when we are led to believe it is her lover (who turns out to be an assassin gunning for Bond).
- Slo-Mo Big Air: Oh yeah.
- Sniper Pistol: Used to kill the secret agent at the beginning.
- Soft Water: Appears to be subverted as Xander specifically breaks the surface tension with an explosion, but there's no way he wouldn't die in real life, as MythBusters confirmed, thus the trope is actually played straight.
- Take That:
- Tattoo as Character Type: Xander has the titular xXx tattoo on the back of his neck and is otherwise fairly tattooed up as a thrill seeker would be.
- Tempting Fate:
- Cage brags about being untouchable in the beginning of the film. The CIA team barges in right on the dot.
- Yorgi telling Cage to learn how to shoot, right before the fatal volley hits him.
- Throw It In: A rather dark version. Diesel's stunt double died near the ending, filming the scene where Cage parachutes onto the sub. Unlike the character, he hit the bridge. The director cut the last few seconds and left it in.
- Truth in Television: The best Special Operations forces and spies tend to be people who don't fit the traditional image of the military or spies. Also, there are several celebrities who have acted as intelligence agents. Between the two, the movie got more right than one might expect.
- Tuxedo and Martini: Subverted in the beginning.
- X Makes Anything Cool
- X-Ray Vision: Binoculars, in this case.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lampshaded by Yorgi when he wipes out the team who created Ahab with their own missiles, telling Yelena that they are a liability now.
- Unless he already has two, but that's not what Gibbons said.