XXX: Return of Xander Cage Review

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When satellites start falling out of the sky, there’s only one man for the job

by Sharuna Warner Jan 19, 2017 at 8:05 AM

  • Movies review

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    XXX: Return of Xander Cage Review

    Vin Diesel reprises the role of Xander Cage for the third instalment in the XXX franchise.

    As a satellite hurtles towards Earth Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to recruit another young potential into the XXX programme. But before the deal is sealed the satellite blows everything in its path, including Gibbons and the young recruit, to smithereens. The cause of the satellite plummeting from space is down to a small hand held device dubbed ‘Pandora’s Box’ and it’s being used by someone within a secret government agency. But before the culprit can be identified a group of leather clad bandits lead by martial arts aficionado Xiang (Donnie Yen) bust in and steal the device. Enter the presumed dead Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) who’s been busy back flipping off of pylons to ensure the local villagers have enough power to catch the second half of a football game - as any rebellious rogue would do.
    Fearing the device has fallen into the hands of terrorists hellbent on wreaking death and destruction on the world, government hotshot Jane Marke (Toni Collette) persuades Xander to come back on board with the XXX programme but he has one condition: he gets to pick his team. Who needs trained agents, when you can assemble a group of extreme sports enthusiasts, so after a quick call, Xander's hand picked team turn up for duty. There's Nicks (Kris Wu) the young, hipster DJ; Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose) the animal activist who’s a dab hand when it comes to weapons; and Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann) dead set on maintaining his record for car wrecks. Together this group of tattooed, record spinning, car crashing thrill seekers must unravel this conspiracy before any more satellites come crashing down.

    XXX: Return of Xander Cage
    With films like XXX: Return of Xander Cage you pretty much know what to expect before you even set foot in the cinema. And it’s definitely safe to say that all the presumptions of scantily clad women, loud music and outrageous stunts are met and are all neatly tied together with the simplest of storylines. But making this the third in the XXX franchise the studios must be doing something right, right? With each offering having a different director behind it, one can only assume they are all working from the same formula - but presumably trying to up the ante ever so slightly each time.

    D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) is the latest to take the helm of this apparent cash cow and he appears to have met the necessary requirements for the project. Packing in plenty of crazy stunts (including a dirt bike come jet ski and a chase down a busy high way during rush hour), scenes that could just as easily feature in the latest pop video and enough one liners to last a life time, Caruso and writer F. Scott Frazier aren’t really offering their audience anything fresh or new. The weak narrative is really just an excuse to send Xander and his gang off on a jolly and have a few brawls along the way. Considering the amount of man power and techy gadgets this government agency has at its disposal, it really only begs the question why do they even need the amazing Xander Cage?

    Vin Diesel tries his best to inject some life into this predictable and formulaic flop

    There really isn’t much to keep XXX: Return of Xander from being just another film hoping that all the action will make up for the lack of a decent story. The script is ropey at best and as each line is delivered you can almost hear the eye rolls. When the music isn’t filling in the gaps our ‘heroes’ are doing their best to be likeable with flat attempts at sarcasm and witty come backs. Diesel, returning to role after an absence of 15 years, is as much Xander as he is Diesel; a flirtatious ladies man that talks as though he’s just a regular guy whilst jumping out of planes. The supporting cast don’t offer much in the way of memorable roles, that is all of them but Yen. It might be that I have a soft spot for him but he was the only character that was remotely likeable and offered some pretty decent combat action (but then he is one with The Force).

    Vin Diesel tries his best to inject some life into this predictable and formulaic flop, whilst the absurd stunts just about make up for what the film lacks in other departments. Although just when you think it’s reached the point of upmost ridiculousness, it manages to take things to a higher level. Many of the scenes are laughable — the attempt at a sex scene is particularly cheesy — but for all the wrong reasons. It’s a simple and easy watch and for those who are already fans of the franchise, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed but for those looking for something with a bit more depth and some meat on its bones, you might want to give this one a miss.


    The Rundown


    4
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

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