Movie Review: XXX – Return of Xander Cage

xxx-return-of-xander-cage-reviewxXx: Return of Xander Cage tells the story of Xander Cage, a technically dead super-agent who is summoned from his “retirement” when a gadget that turns satellites into intercontinental ballistic missiles falls into the wrong hands. He assembles a team and together they work to retrieve the gadget back.

It’s been 12 years since the last xXx movie and 15 since the first one which starred Vin Diesel. It’s also Revolution Studios’ first film in 10 years. Everything about this project has everyone wondering WHY? It also has me wondering how the hell they got so many big names to sign up for the project. What it does have is a lot of funding. The opening logos had me thinking that I had stepped into the wrong hall. A bunch of Chinese company logos kickstarted the film. Some of the cast members and the release date of the film has me wondering who the real decision makers of the film were and who the target audience of the film is.

Anyway, enough with that wonderment, on to the review.

The Good

Paramount Pictures' "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" - European Premiere

The supporting actors were arguably the stars of the show.

I really love the supporting cast of the film. Sure, some of them might be a little on the clichéd side of things, but they’re easily identifiable. If not by name then by their eccentricities. They are definitely more memorable than the Hobbit’s dwarves, despite what Peter Jackson tried to do. Tony Jaa’s Talon and Rory McCann’s Tennyson drew a lot of attention from the hall I was in. But the highlight of the bunch has got to be Nina Dobrev as the clumsy weapons specialist, Becky. My fondness for the supporting cast also has me wondering if films like Suicide Squad actually suffered from recognizable characters in those role. If I hadn’t known about Killer Croc or Katana would I have minded as much? Some food for thought.

The way the story is structured, while predictable and cliched, was pretty well done in my opinion. I feel that moviegoers who aren’t there to over-analyze and instead just there to have some fun will be caught by a few surprises. And there is something to be said about cliched being cliches for a reason. They just work.

The Bad

The action sequences were… bland. They had some incredibly talented actors on board, like Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen, but somehow the sequences were just boring. They’ve been done a hundred times and I’ve seen them a hundred times. It doesn’t help that some of the CG work in this film is abysmal. One that comes to mind is the scene where Vin Diesel chases Donnie Yen into the ocean and there were huge CG waves.

Parts of the film felt like an introduction, which I feel like they’re doing because they’re angling for a franchise. Focus was placed on the side characters, almost to the expense of Xander himself. The main villain is certainly at the bottom of the pyramid and has little influence on the film. There was also some missed opportunities in certain character moments, like it might have been a better story if Marke had been given some redemption. She does say some things that led me to believe that her story would have ended differently. Alas, that’s not the case.

Others

This film smells of the start of a franchise. It just feels so “the Fast and the Furious”, and no, it’s not just because of Vin Diesel. It’s the crew and their “X takes care of it’s own” attitude. It’s also the action scenes. But it falls a little short of the target and just feels like a cheap knockoff instead. If there is another sequel (and judging by box office numbers, there will be), I do hope it gets a better budget to do better stunts and CG. If it manages to do that and introduce a decent villain, I have a feeling this will be a successful franchise.

f-scott-frazier-200x300

F Scott Frazier – rumored to be tapped by DMG for Mistborn

To be honest, XXX isn’t exactly the kind of film I would watch and review. I watched mainly because it was a CNY film for my family and because the writer was apparently tapped by DMG to write the Mistborn films. And to be honest, I not holding out much hope for him. Sure, he might turn up with something different for a non-action blockbuster type film, but I fear that DMG might turn Mistborn into just another summer blockbuster. Hopefully Sanderson will have some influence on the actual story of the film.

Verdict

While not the best action film by any stretch of the imagination, xXx: Return of Xander Cage does a decent enough job to make the experience at least enjoyable.

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One thought on “Movie Review: XXX – Return of Xander Cage

  1. okay, i have something to confess: i only watched this movie because one of my favorite c-pop artists is part of the cast. BUT, it actually ended up being enjoyable!
    i am not a fan of vin diesel, to be honest. recently, he got involved in some huge controversy, involving a brazilian journalist, for harrassing her during an interview. i watched it and felt extremely uncomfortable as well, so i was questioning whether or not to support the movie.
    i also feel like some sequences were very bland, but i ended up enjoying the diversity on the cast. there are a lot of people from different nationalities (even neymar made a cameo which was awkward, to be honest) and each character had their own special trait. i really liked that!

    Like

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