— 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 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. His mission is to stop Secretary of Defense General George Deckert (Willem Dafoe) from overthrowing the U.S. Government.
The first film provide examples of:
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.
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."note Unless he already has two, but that's not what Gibbons said. Also, they would be state crimes and he wouldn't be sent to Leavenworth (a federal prison). Gibbons was using hyperbole.
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.
Several X-Games athletes as themselves in the opening sequence.
The German Metal band Rammstein is the band performing in the concert scene.
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.
Cool People Rebel Against Authority: The movie starts with Xander stealing a State Senator's car and plunging it off a bridge to protest his stance on violent music and video games. He also refuses to Sell Out by having a video game made based on himself. His boss later exploits this trope by ordering him to return home, knowing that he would defy orders and continue his mission.
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.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Check out the Corvette... it totally explodes before hitting the ground. Yorgi's boat, too.
Evil Versus Evil: Invoked and discussed by Gibbons by way of explaining his reasoning for recruiting criminals, although it's actually more Black and Grey Morality in that the proper villains are far more evil than Xander, who's more of a low level underground figure who never sets out to hurt anyone. The only crime we see him commit onscreen is stealing and crashing the car of a zealous Moral Guardianpolitican.
Gibbons: Do we drop another mouse into the snake pit, or do we send our own snake and let him crawl in?
Good Guns, Bad Guns: Justified and inverted. The movie is set in the Czech Republic, which used to be part of the former Soviet Bloc state Czechoslovakia. Xander's allies in the Prague police are therefore armed with Warsaw Pact-derived weapons, while Anarchy 99 uses Western guns.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Xander is apparently so good at weapons from his First Person Shooter experience.
On the other hand, he doesn't seem to understand the concept of a safety. Perhaps that's why he was given a revolver?
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.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Destroying nerve gas by dipping it in water seems like a typical action movie plot device... but the best way of destroying organophosphate-based nerve agents is to sink them in a large body of running water.
Refuge in Audacity: By using some over the top biker-looking guy that would never make it through spy training, no bad guy will ever believe he is a spy, at least at first.
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).
Spoof Aesop: Xander Cage steals the car of an anti-free speech senator named Dick. He then drives the car off a bridge and base jumps from the car. On the way down, he delivers the line "And the moral of the story is 'Don't be a dick, Dick!'"
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 have been several celebrities who have worked as intelligence agents after becoming famous. Between the two, the movie got more right than one might expect.
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.
The sequel has the examples of:
Artistic License - Military: The carrier, just to start. Ships don't drop anchor when they're docked. AT-4 shells don't go that slow or leave a smoke trail. And what were all those barrels on that tank?
Artistic License - Physics: There's no way the car in the final scene would have the necessary traction to drive as fast or as fluidly as it does when it was riding train tracks on just its rims.
Not to mention that from the various speed indicators on the train and car, the car should have overtaken the train at least a half dozen times during the chase.
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.
Dynamic Entry: A convoy of "hustlers and thieves" working for Gibbons and Stone mousehole their way across Washington DC, plowing through walls with their vehicles to bypass roadblocks around the city.
General Ripper: Deckert is a retired example, now being a Secretary of Defense Ripper.
The Greatest Story Never Told: As part of the cover up after the failed coup, Deckert is hailed as a hero who gave his life to save the President, while Stone quietly disappears and goes underground.
Informed Attribute: Darius being "tougher and nastier" than Xander Cage. Aside from seeing through Gibbons "lion speech" which does imply a certain degree of Genre Savviness, he's neither more dangerous than Xander nor a darker Anti-Hero.
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.
Make It Look Like An Accident: Decker does this with Gibbons, making it look like he was killed in a gas explosion in his home. In fact, Gibbons isn't even dead.
Monumental Damage: A tank fires on the Capitol Building. Pretty minor compared to most examples, as it will only require a floor or two of structural repair on the outer wall, maybe a little bit more from the fire.
Shame If Something Happened: Decker uses this as a vague threat against the CIA agent, noting that the house fire which supposedly killed Gibbons "could happen to anybody".
Soft Water: Appears to be subverted as Darius 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: "The fate of the free world in the hands of a bunch of hustlers and thieves." "Why should tonight be any different?"
Up to Eleven: 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.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Decker believes he's protecting the country from a president whose foreign policies would leave it vulnerable to aggressors. It's clear the man is just extremely unhinged, though, no matter how well he hides it.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Gibbons tells Darius that he should have killed Charlie after knocking her out. Later on, Gibbons does it for him, and repeats himself.