Question: I recently saw the sequel to XXX and was confused about the way they explained the death of Vin Diesel's character. I didn't care for Ice Cube's performance and unpleasant attitude; I thought Diesel was much more likable and that the first movie's stunts were more fun and imaginative. What are your thoughts about the two movies?

Answer: I didn't care for XXX (2002); I wasn't interested in the story and thought the stunts were too CGI-enhanced to be at all exciting. That is, to be fair, a problem I have with almost all big-budget action movies today; my feeling is that when the action is amped up to utterly outlandish proportions, I might as well be watching a Roadrunner cartoon. But I do think Vin Diesel is a credible action hero, and I can't say the same for Ice Cube. The meager explanation XXX: State of the Union (2005) offers for the absence of Diesel's character, Xander Cage, is packed into this throwaway exchange: "What happened to Xander Cage?" "Oh, he died in Bora Bora." "Really? I wish I could work in Bora Bora." Not what I would call subtle or elegant screenwriting, but it does the job.