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Movie Review: #xXxReturnofXanderCage

A world-class extreme athlete returns to save the world in the big, dumb, and fun xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

Review by Matt Cummings

It goes without saying that no one will be lining up to give xXx: Return of Xander Cage any awards, unless there's a Scantily-Clad Hottie or Ridiculous Stunt of the Year category I'm not familiar with. And yet, for all its big dumb hyper-sexual nature, the film is fun and filled with enough cheesy one-liners to float its ridiculous premise upon, while entertaining us through what's already been a terrible January movie season.


Anyone looking for thespian acting in these flicks should be leave the theater immediately, lest all the sexuality and brazen man-action sweep you under its giant tires. xXx doesn't care what you think of the B-movie action genre, because it's having way too much fun to listen. Ignore the raised pinkies of the common critic, and you'll be treated to all the normal trimmings: leather-booted bikini babes, tons of slow-motion 'ramming,' plot twists that make no sense, and CGI that looks like it was made on a home computer. At least Diesel and Director DJ Caruso aren't pretentious to think they're making an epic here, and that sense of fun which made the original xXx so much fun has returned.

The cast, while solid in many parts, is simply too big, sporting 3 characters who really didn't need to be there. But there's a core of actors led by Padukone, Yen, Dobrev, and Rose who could be very interesting in future films. They enjoy great chemistry - even if the one-liners are at times eye-roll worthy - with Diesel taking it all in like some sort of a ghetto James Bond. He's a womanizing brute with zero Bond style, but it's fun watching him extreme skateboard, water-bike, and parachute into sexual glory. He's Dominic Toretto if the Super-solider program actually produced a serum, and that plays very well against the foursome, giving each a moment (or several) to shudder, fist-bump, or prance their unhinged physicality at Cage. Dobrev is perhaps the best of them, a deviant sexual outcast if there ever was one, and she enjoys one of the best sequences of the film, giving up her safeword (kumquat) after she first meets Cage. Rose's military lebianism aside, it's Padukone's style that upgrades every scene she's in. She could be the perfect Bond Girl, but for now enjoy her bootie-short/big-boot action sequences while she and Diesel dance around all the mayhem which Caruso brings.

Once again, I have to spank the marketing department for giving away an important cameo in the trailers that I hope you will stay far away from and instead let xXx pour over you like girls at the Champagne Room. But my real beef is that Diesel and Caruso are essentially making Fast and Furious 7.5 here, banding a team of rebels together with the moniker "xXx's always look out for each other!" Sound familiar? But at least the creative team have introduced several interesting characters who could potentially outdo those still left in the FF franchise. It's also a multi-national team, which should play really well overseas.

Regardless of who you are, you'll be sure to notice the highly-suspect CGI, and there's just enough of this chicanery to sometimes take you out of the scene. But for the most part, you should enjoy it and hope xXx makes a killing so it can afford better graphics in future releases. A nip and tuck, and this series can enjoy a long run of ridiculous action and over-sexualized heroes. That also won't happen unless they improve the "Jackson being Jackson" shtick and keep up the effort they've made here with the enjoyably acerbic Collette. Again, no one's winning any awards here, but that doesn't mean we can't have a testosterone-infused franchise that must include some serious CGI if it has any chance of prospering. If Deadpool can do it for under $50m, then xXx can put out, too.

xXx is big, dumb fun that might actually become a full-fledged every-three-years affair if audiences see the series for what it is. Its solid and deep cast provide for one of the most enjoyable affairs of January 2017, which isn't saying much considering the dearth of quality that's been forced into our popcorn buckets. Sure this one's got a ton of issues, but you probably won't care once Yen starts kicking ass. See this one with all the sound and visual trimmings, then grub up afterwards and toast the return of Xander Cage, because he might be around for awhile. And that's ok for me.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language and has a runtime of 107 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comments

Alien Ink said…
They should make a xXx and Fast & Furious crossover where Vin plays both Cage & Toretto. The two crews could be pitted against each other at first but must team up to battle the real bad guy.

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