Secret agent bad-guy busting spies — young, old, and well, older — are all hitting theaters this weekend.
Vin Diesel’s looking to reinvent the action hero with the arrival of the heavily-hyped “XXX,” the Spy Kids are returning in “Spy Kids 2″ and legendary “Dirty Harry” action star Clint Eastwood stars as a retired FBI profiler on the trail of a serial killer in “Blood Work.”
“XXX” is the first major headlining picture to be built around Diesel. It reteams him with both the director and producer of “The Fast and the Furious,” and marks the beginning of two planned Diesel franchises (see “Vin Diesel Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere: ’Pitch Black,’ ’XXX’ Sequels In Works” ). (Click here for photos). Costarring Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”) and Italian-born actress Asia Argento (“Scarlet Diva”), “XXX” follows Xander Cage (Diesel), an extreme sports athlete and star of an underground, anti-establishment Web site, who’s recruited by the government to infiltrate a group of Russian terrorists called “Anarchy 99.” It’s filled with explosive action and unbelievable stunts, all backed by the throbbing and persistent sounds of Hatebreed, Rammstein and other heavy rock acts (see “In Stores Now And Coming Soon: New Music From Trick Daddy, Scarface, Meshuggah, ’XXX’ & More” ).
Though they’re too small to pack Xander Cage’s power or punch, the brother-and-sister team of “Spy Kids 2″ get up to some secret agent work of their own. The sequel to last year’s successful family-oriented comedy again stars Alexa Vega (“The Glimmer Man”), Daryl Sabara, Alan Cumming (“The Anniversary Party”) and Antonio Banderas (“Desperado”). It was again written and directed by Robert Rodriguez (“The Faculty”), who directed Banderas in “Desperado” as well. This time around the kids are joined by two more spies, as well as Steve Buscemi (“Mr. Deeds”) and “Beavis and Butt-head” creator Mike Judge.
Rounding out the crime-related theme of this weekend’s pictures is “Blood Work,” starring Clint Eastwood, who directed the movie as well. He won an Oscar for directing 1992’s “Unforgiven,” which he also starred in.
Also opening this weekend, in select theaters only: “The Good Girl,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal (“Donnie Darko”) and John C. Reilly (“Magnolia”), and “24 Hour Party People.”
“The Good Girl” sees Aniston stepping as far away from her beloved “Friends” character as possible as Justine, a frustrated small-town wife whose spirits are brightened when she detects a similar hopelessness in the new kid (Gyllenhaal) at her work. The two begin a love affair at the Retail Rodeo, which eventually extends to a seedy motel. Things unravel for Justine as her husband’s best friend (Tim Blake Nelson of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) learns her secret, and as her new lover becomes dangerously obsessive.
“24 Hour Party People” is a comedy based on the true story of British TV reporter Tony Wilson. Wilson owned a nightclub as well as the Factory Records label and was a major figure in the Manchester music scene that spawned New Order and Joy Division (see “Kurt Loder Weighs In On ’24 Hour Party People'” ).
They’ll all be going up against the formidable box-office might of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” (see “Mel Gibson, ’Signs’ Overpower Austin’s Mojo” ) and “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (see “’Goldmember’ Hotter Than Austin’s Velvet Suits At Box Office” ).
For a full-length feature on Vin Diesel, check out “Vin Diesel: Not Your Father’s Action Hero.”