xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE [2017]: In Cinemas Now [Short Review]

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Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,

USA

IN CINEMAS NOW

RUNNING TIME: 107 min

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

In Brazil, NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons attempts to recruit footballer Neymar Jr. to the xXx program when a satellite crashes, killing them both. Shortly afterwards, four rogue xXx agents raid the CIA’s headquarters in order to retrieve “Pandora’s Box”, a device which is capable of causing satellites to crash as warheads. CIA Agent Jane Marke tracks down former xXx operative Xander Cage who faked his death and has been living on a self-imposed exile in the Dominican Republic, and convinces him to return to action to retrieve the device. A unit of Special Forces operatives led by Paul Donovan is assigned to help Cage, but he rejects them in favour of his own team….

xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, which seems to have taken a total of nine years to bring to the screen, is a movie based on a false premise. Satellites re-entering earth’s atmosphere typically burn up, but any remaining pieces are small and are spread over hundreds of square miles, rendering them useless for use in damaging any one specific target. De-orbiting a satellite or even controlling it for other purposes is virtually impossible as well. The film also thinks that motorbikes work underwater. But then you shouldn’t expect anything resembling believability in a movie like this. It’s obsessed with showing off how supposedly cool its hero is. Within ten minutes he’s skied over trees, stakeboarded on the side of a truck, and disappeared into a room with five young ladies who are then shown sleeping away, evidently both satisfied and worn out by Cage’s virility, as Cage is preparing to leave. He utters things like: “I live for this shit” throughout. As usual, Vin Diesel doesn’t even have the charisma or the personality of someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And yet I couldn’t help but be entertained by the film. Both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ multi-ethnic teams are fun to spend time with even though like Suicide Squad it feels like we are at a tattoo convention, the story does provide a few surprises, and the pace never slows, though of course it’s hard to get too excited by much of the action because it’s done largely with CGI, and it’s hard to get overly invested in a character who can fall off a moving lorry, get hit by a moving car, and then get up and carry on fighting his opponent.

This isn’t the only recent film that a certain Donnie Yen has stolen, and he even gets some fight scenes where he can show off what he can do, though of course the direction by D. J. Caruso overly favours the ‘quick cut’ kind. As for Tony Jaa, it’s fun to watch him play a more flamboyant character than normal, though – apart from one moment replayed at the end – it’s hard to tell whether he’s actually doing his stunts or not due to the frantic editing. Meanwhile the screenplay’s idea of character development is two characters comparing body art, and Nina Dobrev plays possibly the most irritating person in a movie in some time, though I’d like to see any sequel ditch the tiresome Cage and feature one of the other characters in this instalment as its main hero as they’re all more interesting than Vin Diesel’s. It seems to be the trend to look down on movies like this unless they feature superheroes or are based on a comic book, and xXx: Return Of Xander Cage is primarily disposable trash, but should still give a quick fix to undemanding action junkies. I’m filing it as the first ‘guilty pleasure’ of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

Dr Lenera
About Dr Lenera 2034 Articles

I’m a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don’t really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly ‘have a life’, I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I’ve always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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