Movie Review – XXX: Return of Xander Cage

TL;DR – This is a perfect popcorn flick, as long as you don’t try to think through the plot, which you can’t help but do in the 2nd act.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Movie Review – XXX: Return of Xander Cage

Review

XXX: Return of Xander Cage is a film of many things, interesting set pieces, an incredibly diverse cast, a title that you really need to be careful with when searching on the internet for researching the movie, but also some missed opportunities. So it should come as no surprise that everyone is trying to create the next Bond, and why wouldn’t you? if you could swing 25 feature films out of a single premise. There have been multiple attempts over the years to create the new spy king, a fresh new face. Now for me, the best attempt has to be Kingsman (Click here to see Review), but many people have tried and one direction they went in was recasting the Bond-type with an extreme sports star, and well I have heard worse premises. However, after twelve years, and fifteen since Vin Diesel has been the lead, did we really need another crack at this formula to see if it works, well if this is anything to go by then … maybe?

So if you missed XXX or its sequel don’t worry, you don’t need to have seen them to follow this film, in fact, they do a good job of setting everything up so it is easy to follow. However, if you want a primer, the XXX program is the brainchild of NSA Agent Augustus (Samuel L Jackson) who believes that in an ‘Age of Peril’, ok aside for a moment that is a really fascinating phrase ok back to it, the simple truth is that armies are not flexible enough to guard the country but extreme sport people have the skills needed to thrive in this new security environment. Ok let’s be honest this is a really silly premise, well of course not the silliest premise, yes we’re looking at you Monster Trucks, but like many things in life if you are confident you can pull ridiculous off, and if there is one thing XXX does well it’s confidence.

If you find skiing down the side of a jungle mountain to be too absurd, then this may not be the film for you

If you find skiing down the side of a jungle mountain to be too absurd, then this may not be the film for you

When it comes to the casting I think in most cases they got it spot on. Of course, we have the titular Xander ‘XXX’ Cage played by Vin Diesel, now when casting your main lead you need someone who connects with the audience and Vin Diesel is all about that charisma. As well as this, thanks to Rogue One (Click here for Review) many people in the West have discovered just how great an actor Donnie Yen is and in XXX he kicks all the ass. The rest of the supporting cast works really well together, and what’s best is that everyone just goes for it with their roles, nobody is really playing it safe. So when you have Hawk (Michael Bisping) crashing into people, or Becky (Nina Dobrev) inappropriately blurting out personal information, or Adele (Ruby Rose) kneecapping a hunter with a sniper gun, it all fits organically. This being said, I never really jelled with Toni Collette’s character, this may have more to do with the story itself, but I never really connected with the performance. On a more positive note, it was great to see a really diverse cast, which is a testament to the fact that you can have a diverse cast and still have a kick ass action film. As well as casting there were a lot of little things that I really liked, from the title cards, yes Suicide Squad, that’s how you do a funny title card when they were on location rather than a green screen it looked amazing, the banter in the script was usually spot on. Also, a lot of the time things that would usually annoy me, the CGI action sequences, or the choppily edited action sequences, didn’t seem to bother me as much.

However, and this is a big, however, there is a problem with XXX: Return of Xander Cage and that comes with the second act. Now to talk about this we may cross over into SPOILER territory, so please proceed with caution. XXX, is the very definition of a good popcorn film, sit back and watch the spectacle unfold, and because of that you come to expect that there will be some logical issues with the story but as long as the film keeps moving on you never have the time, or the care, to stop and think about the plot. However, while XXX has a fascinating set-up with the first act, and an action-packed finale, the movie just drags throughout the second act, so bad you really can’t help but see just how nonsensical the whole plot is. Who are these people rocking up in their helicopters, who is Jane (Toni Collette) talking to, who is her boss, what is the terrorist’s goals and motivations, who is the bad guy, who is Xiang (Donnie Yen) working for, is Nicks (Kris Wu) actually doing anything in this film, and the list goes on and on. As well as this, it is during this time that XXX, unfortunately, starts to resemble Die Another Day, with some poorly CGI’ed water graphics. Another frustration I had is that you cast Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa who are phenomenal martial artists, and for most of the film you don’t show it off, yes thankfully Donnie gets an amazing fight sequence at the end, but this was a missed opportunity. Also, there is a twist so clearly coming that there was an audible eye-roll from the audience of the cinema I was in when it happened.

I will never look as cool as Donnie Yen does in this scene.

I will never look as cool as Donnie Yen does in this scene.

Look I could dissect this film more, but it’s not that kind of film, it’s the type of film that you sit back with your popcorn and beverage of choice and just go with it, and when XXX is working on that level it excels. However, when it stops and starts to just meander around the place all of those passes you were giving it start to fade away. So is this the best popcorn film, no the best is still Mad Max Fury Road, but you will probably still have fun with it and that’s what the film is all about, well that and stopping world domination, I think. So do we recommend XXX: Return of Xander Cage? Well yes if you want to enjoy something mindless for a while, but not if you are the person that needs the plot to follow a logical flow.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched XXX?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Trailer – Click Here to View
Directed by
– D. J. Caruso
Written by – F. Scott Frazier
Based on – Characters created by Rich Wilkes
Music by – Brian Tyler & Robert Lydecker
Cinematography by – Russell Carpenter
Starring
– Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Michael Bisping, Toni Collette & Samuel L. Jackson and a cameo that I won’t be the one to spoil for you
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: na; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13

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

  1. Pingback: Movie Review – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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