Review: xXx: Return Of Xander Cage

Review: xXx: Return Of Xander Cage

After SPL, Ip Man and Rogue One, and all his countless butt-kicking appearances before and in between, we’ve admittedly got a definite bias towards Donnie Yen (The Monkey King notwithstanding).

But he really is the best thing about this sequel that no one expected (or was waiting for), coming 12 years after the last xXx movie.

As Xiang, a lethal operative with a possibly sinister agenda, Yen is clearly having fun – way too much of it – throughout this movie. It’s as if that perpetual smirk he wears on-screen is about to give way at any moment to a colossal burst of laughter.

That infectious sense of enjoyment he exudes actually helps propel xXx: Return Of Xander Cage over and past its rough spots; those would include having little regard for a logical story and a total disregard for giving most of its characters any kind of purpose whatsoever to be present.

As the title indicates, the movie – think of it as a 1980s throwback, only one that’s made, well, today – brings back Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, the extreme athlete turned secret agent from the first film back in 2002. Why? Just because we need more Diesel-fuelled franchises.

OK, actually it’s all about a MacGuffin known as Pandora’s Box, which can pull satellites out of orbit and drop them with pinpoint precision on ground targets.

Before you can say “Wouldn’t a bomb be cheaper?”, and anyone connected with this film can answer “But it wouldn’t look dope,” the aforementioned Xiang and his gang of other lethal operatives (played by, among others, Deepika Padukone and Tony Jaa) have stolen the only known model of the device.

So it’s up to Xander Cage to come out of retirement (for reasons best left unspoiled here) and assemble his own team to counter these baddies: a sniper (Ruby Rose), a deranged stunt driver (Rory McCann) and … a deejay (Kris Wu)? Wait, what? The sniper, sure. Rose even does a heck of a lot more here than she does in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. The stunt driver, I almost get. But the deejay? To be fair, he does get the job done when he is called into action. I mean, it’s time these thrillers had some kind of spin other than the political kind, right?

Xxx: return of xander cage

‘Stop standing around like tourists, we’ve got a planet to save. OK, so you guys might as well be tourists, since this team is even more random than … my other movie teams.’

Long story short (not much of a stretch to do that), the teams clash, allegiances shift – almost at random – and lots of butt gets kicked.

Avengers references are dropped.

Diesel and Deepika’s characters get all flirty.

Xiang and Xander engage in thrilling chases (including one parkour-kung fu combo chase/fight through speeding traffic).

Old friends return. And return again.

And a good time is had by all – well, except for the folks who got satellites dropped on them. And probably not by anyone who goes into the theatre with a Grinch on their shoulder.


xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage

Director: D.J. Caruso

Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Colette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ruby Rose, Kris Wu, Tony Jaa, Rory McCann, Nina Dobrev

 

 




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