Movie Review - xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Movie Review - xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 107 mins.

Premise: When his handler is killed, the extreme sports, fur-jacket wearing Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is brought back into the xXx program to recover a stolen device called “Pandora’s Box” and, you know, save the world and shit.

Behind-the-Scenes: Hot off the success of The Fast and the Furious, Sony distributed the original xXx back in 2002 and did a Vin Diesel-less sequel starring Ice Cube in 2005. Because no halfway profitable franchise ever dies these days, Paramount scooped up the rights (with the help of some foreign backers) and is distributing this new sequel. D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) directs.

The Good: This might be the perfect movie to be released on the day of our new idiocracy. It’s big, loud and dumb fun (the movie equivalent of a Red Bull), and oh-so-proud of it. The cast is an impressively diverse and multi-cultural group, assembled here in a transparent attempt to capitalize on the Fast/Furious formula. Diesel seems to be enjoying himself, but the real draw here is Donnie Yen. Fresh off his turn as Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One, Yen has a truly distinctive screen presence, and when he fights, it’s a joy to watch.

The Bad: The problem is, it’s SO DUMB. The action sequences are ridiculous – many reminded me of Die Another Day – and aren’t really that interesting or memorable. By the end, it just resorts to bland shoot outs in a warehouse, which is the go-to trope of every uninspired action flick. The characters aren’t fleshed out. Toni Collette is wasted as the new acting head of the xXx program. And, there’s a key character appearance in the final act that would have been an awesome reveal . . . if the stupid marketing for the movie hadn’t already spoiled it.

Should You See It?: There is a certain charm to its dumb fun, and it’s clearly the best xXx movie yet (admittedly not saying much there), but unless you’re really jonesing for The Fate of the Furious and need a fix now, you can skip this one.

Star Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars.

Better Than: xXx, xXx: State of the Union

Worse Than: Furious 7, Fast 5

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