xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Year: 2017
Director: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube
Written by Nazeer Vawda

When I younger, maybe between the ages of 9 and 12, I loved ‘xXx’ (2002). It was my favourite film at one point, and I used to watch it all the time, almost on repeat. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s probably one of the films I’ve seen the the most. I haven’t seen it since my early obsession with it, but it still has a special place for me. So I went into the sequel hoping for something really good, but expecting (due to awful trailers) something not so great. Thankfully, the film leans more towards the former.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ could have been a terrible, cheesy, poorly made and dull action film (like the other ‘xXx’ film), but somehow it manages to pull through. Xander Cage is indeed back. After being picked up by the CIA again, he goes back to work to catch a group of criminals lead by Donnie Yen, who have stolen devices that can control satellites. This time however, Vin Diesel took a page out of the Fast franchise and Xander is now working with a crew. The first is Ruby Rose’s Adele, a brutal sniper with a lot of kills to her name, next up is Tennyson (Rory McCann), he crashes into things, then there’s Serena (Deepika Padukone) another extreme sportsperson, and lastly is Nicks (Kris Wu), a D.J. I don’t know why he’s there, but he is. 

The films action is both its strong and weak point. Most of the time, the action is great, well shot, well edited, and so much fun to watch. The downside is sometimes it goes a bit too “out there” with the stunts. It opens with Vin Diesel snowboarding down a mountain. That sounds fine right? Nope. There is no snow on this mountain  He snowboards down a dirt mountain with trees everywhere. It was so bizarre to see as it didn’t even look convincing. Outside of two scenes however, this isn’t that much of a problem. Honestly I was quite surprised by how well D.J. Caruso handled the action here. It’s almost entirely well shot, with some great choreography, although that’s to be expected with the inclusion of Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. Yen is continuing a great streak in Hollywood with some great scenes, both in and out of action. Sadly, the film totally wasted Tony Jaa and I have no idea why. There are few actors who do action as well as him, and I was really looking forward to seeing him kick some ass. Disappointingly he doesn’t have a memorable scene at all. 

The films fun all comes from it’s script, the chemistry between all the cast is great, making every scene a joy to watch. Really all the very loose story does is string each set-piece together, but the characters and the cast manage to make you not care about this, and its always a fun film to watch whatever is happening. It does occasionally get a bit too self-aware, and that’s where its weakest points are. There’s one scene in particular that has no relevance to anything, but just goes on for like five minutes as its a throwback to the first film.

So overall I really enjoyed the film. If you go in expecting anything smart, or anything with a purpose, this isn’t the movie, but If you want to see absurd stunts, fun action, and an Indian that isn’t Dev Patel or Irfaan Khan in the main cast of a Hollywood film (I love the film so much because of that. I could write pages on how and why its such a great thing), this is totally the film for you. 

Nazeer’s rating: 7.0 out of 10
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