• Guy Jeffries

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review


Director: D.J. Caruso.

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

It's fifteen years on since Xander Cage bounced, slid and x-gamed across the big screens, one year after the success of the first Fast and Furious instalment with same director Rob Cohen. And according to the storyline, Xander Cage has been successfully playing dead for all those years.

D.J. Caruso takes the helm, who's never had any major blockbusters, but the man behind not-so-terrible films like I Am Number 4, Disturbia and my personal favourite of his, being Two For The Money.

Vin Diesel doesn't come alone this time round, forging a team out of international, Expendable rejects, but it's quite a team of recognisable faces. Game of Thrones' Hound, Rory McCann plays a stunt driver, Orange is The New Black star Ruby Rose plays a keen sniper, and I don't understand the purpose or need for Korean popstar (Though Chinese-Canadian, Kris Wu's character, I honestly think they just added him in purely for fun.

On the opposing side is Donnie Yen who replaces Jet Li. Possibly a much welcomed addition after his increased success and popularity with last month's Rogue One. Ong-Bak the Thai Warrior, Tony Jaa joins the fray as an overactive, over-excited action junkie and Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone makes her Hollywood debut here, after not being able to commit to Furious 7. Though she might not be known to the wider audience, she certainly makes her presence known here.

What's great about Caruso's xXx is that he allowed the characters/actors to be themselves, encouraging them to express their real accents instead of having false ones which could have offended certain audiences around the world.

It's loaded with heavy hitting cameos too, UFC fighters and an international football star. (Don't ask me who, I don't follow football) but what is does lack is a good soundtrack like the first xXx, tracks from Soil, Drowning Pool and of course, Rammstein impressively performing Feuer Frei for the film. But there is none of that on this one apart from a couple of scratches on some decks.

Everything else about the film is ridiculous and totally unbelievable, having a rehashed plot with little intelligence and pointless characters. However, the action is good, even if outrageously silly with plenty of "oh come on" moments, it looks pretty and is entertaining, almost farcical. Donnie Yen delivers the punches (and kicks) superbly so fans shouldn't be disappointed but the grand finale lets the rest of the movie down, almost as if it's run out of juice. The ending is partly reminiscent of a Star Wars battle, band of misfit rebels fight down below on the ground trying to secure communications while Xander battles for survival and humanity up on the Death Star.

Its stupid, but it doesn't pretend to be otherwise, and really, what are we expecting? and with films like Lion, Jackie, Silence and Manchester By The Sea being out, this actually comes as a refreshing, brainless actioner that is just good ol' cheesy fun. It does kick some ass, and it does look dope while doing it.

Oh, Xander's jacket has grown since his last film! Really needs some grooming! And is Diesel afraid of the sequels? skipping xXx2 and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Breaking this habit with Guardians Vol.2.

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 7

Performance: 7

Direction: 6

Story: 3

Script: 4

Creativity: 7

Soundtrack: 3

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

50% 5/10

#DJCaruso #VinDiesel #DonnieYen #DeepikaPadukone #KrisWu #RubyRose #TonyJaa #RoryMcCann #NinaDobrev #ToniCollette #SamuelLJackson #IceCube #HermioneCorfield #BrianTyler #MichaelBisping