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xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review

In amongst all the outstanding award worthy scripts, performances and, indeed, tap dances, there is a little something lurking called the action flick. Big explosions, gunfights and a mindless special effects orgy is welcomed once in a while; if it actually has a semblance of story that is. If you can cast your mind back to 2002, where we were first introduced to Xander Cage and if you dare cast your mind back to when poor William Defoe was cast in xXx 2: The Next Level, over a decade later (for some unknown reason) the filmmakers have decided to give us another dose of Vin Diesel’s deadly “triple X” Cage.

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As a harshly dressed, peroxide Toni Colette playing her easiest role to date as Jane Mark of the NSA has a valuable item stolen from under her nose it’s down to the xXx team to get back together in order to contain a device otherwise known as Pandora’s Box. A gadget that is somehow able to cause satellites to drop out of the sky causing havoc. Clearly there is only one man for the job allowing Xander Cage to come out of hiding – lucky us. There’s no doubt about it, Cage’s entry sequence is utterly ridiculous – there are no words. Apparently he and most of the cast here have the ability to banish the laws of physics and the most irritating aspect of this adrenaline pumped scene is how cock-sure the man is whilst performing such obscene actions.

Obviously the people who made the film, the people residing in it (bullets included,) did not take this too seriously. Fun being the main objective it seems, however fun, that translates into blowing up many a building, again, again and again. Oh and engaging in a bit of cheesy dialogue along the way…. As do waves of seat shuffling accompanied with eye rolls as the 1 millionth trigger is pulled to a god awfully supposedly funny line. If you have had the pleasure of viewing the last two films, you will know what to expect from Vin’s Cage, yet this has cranked the volume all the way up and the speakers are sure to blow.

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The supporting cast were utterly wasted here. Being in such a film will hopefully get them noticed, albeit the question of why these people endured this springs to mind. Colette is given very little work with here, whilst Ruby Rose is type cast as the butch lesbian and Vampire Dairies Nina Dobrev has the honour of playing the annoying, know it all geek – with oversized specs just in case we didn’t get the fact she is supposed to be brainy. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone (who actually received an excitable ‘woop’ from a few audience members) appeared to be hired with one things in mind – stand there in next to no clothes, achieve things a woman of her stature could simply not (even hold a machine gun for that matter) and generally look stunning – no acting essential here, which is a real shame.

Other than that, the main problem is that the story arch fails to deliver on all fronts. In amongst the pyrotechnics, shoot downs and out right punch ups, the scarily placed dialogue does nothing other than make you cringe; almost never aiding this generic story onward. An abundance of erratic editing is utilised to cover up poor CGI and with the hope of having a mundane audience, the filmmakers clearly thought that speeding up the frame rate somehow concealed the fact they used stunt men for a good percentage of the running time. One reprieve we get here is watching Donnie Yen and Kris Wu’s martial arts skills, even if they are performed in a comical and over the top manner they are both entertaining to watch. Not forgetting Games of Thrones Rory McCann as the unhinged and fabulously eccentric truck crashing Tennyson Torch.

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Within the first 5 minutes you will know exactly how this is going to pan out and all there is to do is sit back and laugh – otherwise you might cry thinking about how much time, effort and money has been poured into this futile attempt to reboot a character that after 2 hours is still very much dead in the water.

Unless you are deeply invested in Vin Diesel or the xXx franchise, stay at home and watch Guardians of the Galaxy – at least then Groot will actually evoke an emotion other than frustration inside you


xXx: Return of Xander Cage is out now. 

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