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Dan's Review: "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" an extreme waste of time

Jan 20, 2017 11:55AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone in xXx: Return of Xander Cage - © 2016 Paramount

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Paramount)

Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language.

Starring Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Tony Gonzalez.

Written by F. Scott Frazier, based on characters created by Rich Wilkes.

Directed by D.J. Caruso.

GRADE: D
REVIEW:

Do you suffer from low testosterone? Need to “man up” a little? Do you like dumb action movies with lots of inane dialogue and implausible outcomes? I’ve got a movie for you that will get those manly hormones flowing, with one unfortunate side effect: loss of brain cells.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the original xXx, other than it seemed like a constant string of cheesy, macho one-liners interspersed with outlandish CG-driven action and stunts (you may notice a pattern here). I missed the sequel entirely (xXx: State of the Union, starring Ice Cube, because Vin Diesel had to make The Pacifier, another piece of high-art cinema), which leads us to this weekend’s release of Vin Diesel’s triumphant rise from the grave in xXx: Return of Xander Cage (his absence in State of the Union was explained through a short film in the DVD release bonus features depicting his gruesome death).

There really isn’t much to the story here. Someone is using a device to knock satellites from orbit, using them as missiles to target their enemies (okay, I could outline the impossibility of such things, along with violations of nature, physics, reason, logic and all sorts of assaults on your intelligence, but suffice to say the entire movie is full of absurdity, and leave it at that). The NSA leader Jane Marke (Toni Collette, who apparently has bills to pay) tracks Cage down in the Dominican Republic, and recruits him back into the XXX program (a hybrid of spies with extreme sports talents like skateboarding) to track down the bad guys responsible for these terrorist attacks and recover the “Pandora’s Box” (clever, no?) device. Cage teams with support specialist “Becky” (Nina Dobrev), “Nicks” (Kris Wu), “Adele” (Ruby Rose) and “Tennyson” (Rory McCann), all of whom are trained XXX agents he trusts. The team heads to the Philippines, where rogue XXX agents Xaing (Donnie Yen), “Serena” (Deepika Padukone) and “Talon” (Tony Jaa) are hiding. The real and rogue agents soon discover that they are being played by someone on the inside (gee, I wonder who), and they must find and destroy Pandora’s box before this evil power broker uses the device to take over the world in the name of democracy. A few “surprise” characters show up during the final battle, too, and a character you thought was dead (other than Cage) shows up in the epilogue, reminding us that there’s always room for another sequel.

Besides the ridiculous story, there’s even more ridiculous casting at play in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, and it’s quite obvious as to why such an international ensemble of people show up in the movie. The producers are obviously targeting parts of the world that will ensure decent box office in places other than the U.S., so they included several Asian characters (Yen, Wu and Jaa), an Indian hottie (Padukone) and a cameo from Brazilian soccer phenom Neymar Jr. (as himself). Subtlety is a lost art, apparently.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not worthy of much analysis or critique. It’s a really dumb film intended to appeal to the basest of male denominators, including (but not limited to) extreme stunts, bass-heavy music, hyper sexuality, motorcycles, fast cars, cheap cologne and of course, violence.

So if you’re feeling a little low on testosterone and are willing to part with $10 of your hard-earned cash and more than a few brain cells, head right out and see xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

A better alternative is a healthy diet, coupled with exercise, or just about any other movie.


xXx: Return of Xander Cage Trailer

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