DVDs: Reference Disc

The original xXx achieved almost lyrical heights of excess through its digitally enhanced, over-the-top action sequences. The inferior sequel, xXx: State of the Union (Sony; Movie ••••, Picture/Sound ••••½, Extras ••••), never quite gets off the ground, with its C-grade action hero, Ice Cube, and an incomprehensible plot in which carjacker thugs are recruited to foil a presidential coup.

Still, the DVD delivers the goods in its aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and its subwoofer-shaking rap soundtrack, including tracks by Big Boi, Tupac, and Ice Cube himself. Surround envelopment is strong from start to finish, but the finale is especially hot. Here, xXx rescues the president in a high-speed chase involving cars, a helicopter, and a bullet train, not to mention automatic weapons and missiles. And the sound mix puts you right on the train as the helicopter circles from the front to the rear and back again.

Picture quality is crisp and clean throughout, with vivid colors and deep blacks in the 2.35:1 widescreen images. And fine shadow details come through clearly in each of the movie's many nighttime shots. Extras include director and visual-effects-team commentaries, a scene breakdown, and a featurette.