Picks and Pans Review: XXX: State of the Union

updated 05/09/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ACTION

Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson
[STARS 2]

Feeling the need to see a car commercial? Turn off your television and scoot on down to the multiplex to catch this latest boys-and-their-noisy-toys extravaganza, in which a fleet of Fords, including a souped-up F-150 truck, a Mustang and a Cobra Concept car, play nearly as prominent a role as a glowering Cube.

XXX: State of the Union is a sequel, sort of, to 2002's XXX, a film in which Vin Diesel was supposed to establish himself as the James Bond of the MTV generation. Well, Diesel's character is gone (dead, we learn) and the curmudgeonly Cube is his replacement as Darius Stone, a special ops agent who's in prison after being court-martialed. When a secret government bunker is attacked, Augustus Gibbons (Jackson), the M of this series, recruits Stone to serve as the new Agent XXX. "Sounds like a porno star," Stone mutters.

The plot, some hooey about a possible coup to overthrow the President (Peter Strauss), is mostly an excuse for some well-executed chases, explosions, firepower and comic asides by Stone just before he offs someone. Call it eye and ear candy for guys. (PG-13)

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