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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xXx: Return of Xander Cage    

PG-13 107 min ActionAdventureCrime

5.4
IMDB: 5.4/10 29,524 votes

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N/A

USA

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Secret operative Xander Cage hasn’t appeared onscreen in fifteen years, and his reintroduction in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage represents the ridiculousness of this very silly movie. Cage (Vin Diesel) is high above the treetops of the South American rainforest climbing a radio tower. He then leaps off the tower, breaking his fall by successfully skiing through the branches, then lands safely without a scratch. And what’s amazing is this is actually one of the more plausible scenes in this third installment of the xXx Trilogy. This is a shockingly stupid movie containing all the energy of an inarticulate six-year old on Christmas morning, but without of any of the charm.

Amongst all the explosions, half-naked women, and lame one-liners lay some sort of story, however implausible. A space satellite falls from the sky, killing NSA agent and xXx Leader Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as footballer Neymur (yes, the actual soccer player). Making matters worse, Xiang (Donnie Yen) leads a gang of thugs to steal “Pandora’s Box,” a device capable of making more satellites fall. Amidst the chaos, CIA agent Jane Marke (Toni Collette in an embarrassing performance) resorts to recruiting Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) to come out of hiding and rejoin the secret unorthodox crime-fighting xXx group. He accepts, assembles a team of misfits, searches for the box, and saves the day. Of course, the standard plot twists and double-crossing ensues along the way.

Have I already said this is an incredibly stupid movie? I’ve no negative, film snobbish predisposition against silly action movies. But a good silly action movie needs wit and strong action scenes. The Return of Xander Cage provides neither. The dialogue is not clever or funny, but instead drips with a smug high school jock mentality. The action scenes lack any coherent form. Shots just jump around in a dizzying haze.

It contains two inspired elements: Samuel L. Jackson’s hairpiece and a very short scene with Donnie Yen performing his own martial arts stunts. Yen has proven himself as one of the world’s top martial arts performers and an amazing film presence (see Rogue One), and I can only hope American filmmakers better utilize his tremendous talent. Isn’t it odd how the stand-out moment in a film filled with phony CGI effects is a scene with an actual performer performing actual stunts?

One curious aspect of this PG-13 film dominated by violence and sex is the nonexistence of blood and nudity. I understand appealing to a wider audience and getting younger viewers into the theater, but how many people who enjoy a PG-13 Xander Cage would be turned off by an R-rated Xander Cage? Does it really take blood and nudity to raise an audience’s moral conscious?

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage embodies what I call the “stupid smart-aleck movie.” Its appeal rests in dim-witted characters making sarcastic remarks, and not in the charming and satirical way a truly great team like Kurt Russell John Carpenter could effortlessly pull off. It lacked any sort of joy or exuberance that I felt so empty when it was finally over. Maybe in another fifteen years Xander Cage will return once again as a senior citizen, which would make a far more interesting picture than this.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
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