XXX: State of the Union Lee Tamahori

The single moment of interest in XXX: State of the Union happens entirely by accident. Superior Samuel L. Jackson and disgraced soldier Ice Cube are trading barbs while on opposite sides of the prison glass — Jackson needs Cube to help solve the mysterious attacks on the NSA, Cube wants no part of it, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's nothing unusual, except that it's one black man pulling rank on another black man on matters of real importance, which for a moment lifts the film out of the realm of lame action thriller into a heretofore unseen screen relationship.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a cheap knockoff of an only marginally better film, with the usual Schwarzenegger one-liners and things going boom giving you constant headaches. The NSA thing is, of course, part of a plot by Willem Dafoe to stage a coup against a peace-loving American president (that'll be the day), and Scott Speedman shuffles around as the sympathetic inside man who could stop everything if he were only played by someone more famous. But it's all for naught as our hero is put through one humiliation after another, including some sexual frustration, the occasional servant joke and nothing like the MAXIM-spread free-for-all that greeted Vin Diesel.

There's no excuse for replacing the supremely photogenic Diesel with the unimpressive furrow-browed Cube, or for slapping a plea for world peace on the back of an orgy of military might, or for including a bunch of buxom women whose only function is to rev motorcycles, but such is the state of this film's union, which should be falling apart any minute now. (Columbia/Sony)