xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

2:29 PM

There are no more patriots, just rebels and tyrants.
This review contains spoilers
 xXx: Return of Xander Cage is directed by D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four, Disturbia) and stars Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious, Guardians of the Galaxy), Donnie Yen (Ip Man, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Deepika Padukone (Chennai Express, Happy New Year), Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Miss You Already). "Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons". Vin Diesel is finding it hard to find an audience outside of Fast and Furious recently, was resurrecting a franchise that once saw him success a good move?

My expectations were pretty low for this film and I actually wasn't planning to see it. However, I think I kind of fell into the trap of the release date of this film - it is the first big budget blockbuster of the year and it's set in an exotic location so is a way to escape the cold weather and depressing month that is January. However, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this film, Return of Xander Cage is the return of dumb but fun movies - this is a pretty poorly made film and is full of flaws but it's just so fun, likeable and exciting - I am glad I saw it. 

The performances are pretty sub-standard - they're average at best. Vin Diesel really is one of the most one dimensional actors in Hollywood, he plays practically the same character every time and gets away with it - he doesn't even seem like he's putting much effort in. Diesel is flat, monotone but somehow he's still likeable and comes across well. He's just doing what he does best. I saw an interview asking Diesel what it would be like for Xander and Dom to meet but I really think it would be the most confusing interaction ever as they are essentially the same character - one just cares a little more about the idea of family. The female actors in this film are all pretty bad - Bollywood sensation Deepika Padukone steps into the Hollywood spotlight but she does not do it very well. Padukone is another example of an actor simply reading their lines and doing nothing with them. It didn't help that some of her lines were pretty cringe-worthy. Ruby Rose and Nina Dobrev were definitely hired to try and bring in the masses that watch their respectable hit TV shows but I don't really know why fans are obsessed with them. Ruby Rose really has nothing to work with her, so much so, I feel I can't really comment on her performance except that she convincingly aims a gun. Nina Dobrev on the other hand was incredibly annoying and very miscast - Dobrev doesn't come across as the geeky but raunchy tech assistant - I think she knew herself she didn't belong in this role as she didn't do an excellent job. Toni Collette was an interesting one - I found her styling a little cheap and she wasn't that convincing. Finally, there is an exciting cameo from Ice Cube at the end of the film who is just another Vin Diesel - he's the same in every film but always delivers well in those roles. 

The plot for xXx 3 was pretty fast paced, not too complicated but also not particularly original. There is some nonsense about pandora's box which is possibly explored in further films but there wasn't much explanation on the stakes in this instalment (this is the first xXx I have seen). I liked the fact that it was fast moving - it's refreshing for this time of year as Oscar films are famously slow burns. There are some cringe-worthy lines and odd moments such as a whole action sequence just for Xander to get a town signal to watch the football. However, the film is pretty harmless and is easy watching, it's tolerable and quite fun to watch. xXx 3 is the first example of the effects of Suicide Squad as this film had SO many similarities - the editing style towards the start of the film that introduced the members of xXx was basically a rip off of Suicide Squad. It was all a little too familiar but was interesting to see a film already be so influential. 

Let's be serious now, Vin Diesel tries his best to execute the Fast & Furious formula on every film he is involved in (in terms of producing). xXx 3 could easily be a Fast & Furious spin off - Diesel plays basically the same role, there is ridiculous and over the top action, a very diverse cast and music is very important to the action sequences in creating a certain energy. The action in xXx 3 is always exciting - it is ridiculous - Vin Diesel somehow learns to fly through the air, motorbikes turn into jet skis, Ruby Rose is suspended via (what looks like) toilet roll from a tree whilst aiming - there's so many more bizarre and crazy moments. If I was a casting director, I would be pretty proud of the cast I had brought together for this film - on paper, it should work and mean that the film should be a success in almost every corner of the globe. However, the problem is, some of those cast members just aren't utilised well enough - they're just there as tokens of diversity. One of my favourite things about the Fast and Furious films are the music choices and I think the ones for xXx 3 were also very fitting and exciting, effectively manipulating how I felt about some scenes (positively). 

As you can see, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a seriously flawed film and not a particular well made one. The action sequences have spectacle and are exciting, the story is simple and unoriginal, the performances are uneven and nothing special and this is basically Fast & Furious lite. Despite all of this, I did enjoy watching the film and would happily watch it again. I don't feel inclined to watch the other xXx films though as I feel they will just be more of the same. xXx 3 is just the starter - Vin Diesel has Guardians 2 and Fast 8 on the way, I'm sure this will be a crazy year for him.


56
/100

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