lee tamahori is one of the worst directors who still gets work. producers should have cut this guy off after he directed along came a spider, but they went on to give him die another day and then xxx:state of the union (his crowning achievement). die another day is a mere prologue to the awfulness that would follow in the sequel to xxx. it shows much of the “promise” that xxx2 shows, but it benefits from the fact that it’s semi-well-written and has a well established formula. that doesn’t dissuade tamahori, though, as he tries his damnedest to butcher the series, and the entire genre, through his bad direction. perhaps the best way to see how he makes a film bad is to watch a film like this followed by a john woo picture. woo directs action very well, tamahori manages to suck the life out of the efforts of the entire stunt crew. the stunts in this film were as good as any in the bond series up to this point, yet tamahori’s direction zaps it of its potential impact. how, exactly, he does this, is unclear. some of it is his bad editing style and some of it is his desire to make the action completely unbelievable. but there’s more to it than that. as kurosawa has a sixth sense which guides his storytelling, so does tamahori. only his sixth sense finds a way to make worse films that otherwise might be merely sub-average. maybe he’s just the producers’ punching bag. they see a project that’s bound for failure and they just hire him so they can blame him afterwards. who knows. madonna makes a cameo and does the title song. yuck. there are some good one-liners and gadgets, but the film is otherwise uninteresting.