XXX: State of the Union

When Samuel L. Jackson recruits a Vin Diesel replacement for the most elite and pimped out of National Security Agency Special Ops, he needs a man with “more attitude” and a flair for ridiculous vehicular stunts. Ice Cube gamely takes the job, which consists of blasting into the Capitol to rescue the president, and our freedom, from a treasonous uberhawk secretary of defense (Willem Dafoe, unfortunately). The new Triple X, who may also answer to Bling Bang Boom, has help from his chop-shop homies, including Zeke (Xzibit, enjoying himself), who claims he can jack anything with wheels and proves it on a tank. Otherwise it’s old-school stuff: explosions, dozens and dozens of gunshot wounds without much blood, and elaborate hand-to-hand combat edited so frenetically that it feels a little cheated, like the plot. Director Lee Tamahori (Die Another Day) has a shruggingly action-intensive style, at once heavy-handed and not really trying. But it’s worn well enough by Cube, who looks winningly innocent even as he says, “Brother, I was born lookin’ guilty.” Such is the affable and almost subversive humor of a movie that at least manages to have its fictional president quote Tupac on national television.