Sequel gains steam, but lacks Diesel

Big Shock news of the day is that Vin Diesel – someone who was all for his own franchise – has jumped ship from the “XXX” series. Replacing him? Ice Cube. According to Variety, Diesel just completed “Chronicles of Riddick”, the “Pitch Black” prequel, and didn’t want to do another follow-up so soon. Instead, Cube – next in “Torque” – will step in to play a new character who is recruited by the National Security Agency to become a XXX agent. The XXX name refers to a three-strikes rule the NSA employs to give criminals the option of joining the crime-fighting force or going to prison. Lee Tamahori has also come on board to direct. This time, the film will be largely set in Washington D.C. and emphasize thriller elements over the first’s extreme sports action. Tamahori will helm from a script by Simon Kinberg ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith"). Diesel will instead go straight into the film “Hannibal”.