20th Jan2017

‘xXx: The Return of Xander Cage’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Vin Diesel, Ruby Rose, Donnie Yen, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Deepika Padukone, Danny Wu, Ariadna Gutierrez | Written by F. Scott Frazier | Directed by D.J. Caruso

xxx-ukquad

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage starts off strong (and ridiculous) and keeps on going at a hundred miles per hour. You know you’re in for a crazy ride when the movie starts with title cards introducing each character: name, characteristics, favourite song, etc., you know, the usual! Even more ridiculous is that the first person we see – besides Samuel L. Jackson’s super-spy Gibbons – is footballing superstar Neymar, who is being recruited into the xXx program, in a Chinese restaurant, at 7am in the morning… Sounds absurd? Yes. Fun? Definitely!

And that’s the key to xXx 3, it is absurd AND fun. The two go hand in hand, that’s how the franchise started and that’s how I hope it goes on… Given how the film ends I have hope that the adventures of Vin Diesel’s Xander Cage will continue in much the same fashion as those of the actors other franchise, Fast & Furious. The same “family” dynamic is now in place, and the series has always been about the kinds of extreme action and espionage anyway – so there’s no reason why we can’t, or won’t, see more of this modern day James Bond and co.

This third explosive chapter of the franchise sees the return of extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Diesel) who comes out of self-imposed exile on a collision course with deadly operative Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora‚Äôs 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…

If you’ve seen the first xXx be safe in the knowledge that Vin Diesel, well his character Xander Cage at least, hasn’t changed. He still struts around like a peacock, still wears that ridiculous fur coat, still gets all the ladies, and still does ludicrous, often physics-defying, stunts without so much as getting a scratch on him… It’s just a day in the life of Xander Cage after all!

Speaking of ladies, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage not only features the usual eye-candy (in a scene that I’m sure was written just to mock the previous entries in the series, which revelled in such ridiculously sexist scenes) but also the badass duo of of Ruby Rose and Deepika Padukone. Who, besides playing fantastic characters in ther own right, team up for an almost movie-stealing bullet ballet scene that rivals the work of John Woo in its sheer stylishness. Deepika Padukone in particular shows why she is one of the highest paid actresses in the world, and in making her Hollywood debut she deftly outclasses Vin Diesel; only Donnie Yen – who steals the entire movie – oushines her.

With stunning action pet pieces, some superbly choreographed martial arts – mainly involving Donnie Yen who should, given his performance here and in Rogue One, be in EVERY Hollywood action movie ever – and a fantastic last-act cameo from a former series actor, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is a perfect reboot for this franchise.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is in cinemas everywhere now.

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