xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

  • Time: 107 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
  • Director: D.J. Caruso
  • Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, Deepika Padukone

Storyline:

Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) comes out of self-imposed exile, thought to be long dead, and is set on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

One review

  • There’s ridiculous and there’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage, the belated but in no way heavily requested third installment of the high-octane franchise that helped make Vin Diesel a household name. Though he abandoned the sequel (reportedly when producers were unwilling to meet his demands, resulting in his character being killed off and Ice Cube stepping in), Diesel is back as the titular extreme sports-loving government agent. Yet the return of the prodigal lunkhead does raise the question: when is it time to retire or move on from a franchise?

    Action heroes have a longer shelf life than they used to but, at a certain point and if one isn’t mindful of the material, the desperation becomes more noticeable. The Eighties titans Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, have managed to maintain a strong semblance of dignity despite obviously not being as mobile as their younger selves. Diesel himself has transitioned well with the Fast and Furious franchise, though that may be more due to the indestructibility of the franchise than Diesel himself. Certainly Return of Xander Cage is no cause for celebration since it seems a sloppily assembled montage of leftover or rejected ideas from the Fast and Furious films.

    Xander’s return from the dead is prompted by the death of his former boss Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson going OTT as only he can) who is done in by a fiery satellite falling out of the sky and crashing down next to the Chinese restaurant in which he was meeting with potential new recruit, Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr. According to intelligence chief Jane Marke (Toni Collette who, based on this performance, might be doing Cruella de Vil by way of Joan Crawford), the satellite was brought down by a device called “Pandora’s Box” which, if in the wrong hands, could be disastrous. The device itself is the size of a hard drive, the sight of which recalls The IT Crowd’s episode where a black box is passed off as being the internet itself, and is soon stolen by a gang of daredevils within minutes of Marke uttering the warning.

    Marke recruits Xander to hunt down the gang, who are fronted by Xiang (Donnie Yen), Serena (Deepika Padukone), and Talon (Tony Jaa). Xander, naturally, rejects the back-up team that Marke provides by ejecting them from the back of the plane, instead rounding up his own ragtag squad: tattooed sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), D.J. Nicks (Kris Wu), and instantly smitten IT specialist Becky (Nina Dobrev). It isn’t too long before Xander discovers that Marke may have ulterior motives for wanting the device back.

    Of course, all of this is just nonsensical blah blah blah to get to the action sequences. Xander is introduced mud-skiing down a jungle mountain, all in the service of bringing the World Cup telecast to the Brazilian town where he was been hiding out; there’s a shootout on a plane that’s about to crash; another shootout with Padukone and Rose specifically aimed at getting the guys drooling; and a freefall that barely rouses one from slumber. Competently staged, the sequences are noisy, frazzled and frenetic affairs that are nowhere near as memorable as the ludicrous fur coat that Xander sports. That the coat and co-stars Yen (who truly needs to be in a Hollywood vehicle of his own), Jaa (underused but making an impression nonetheless), and Padukone (stunning) outshine Diesel by a long mile is a clear indication that it’s time for Diesel to move aside and let the franchise be led by younger and more exciting blood.

    Click here for more reviews at the etc-etera site

Write your review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *