Kaitlyn Booth

Review: xXx: Return Of Xander Cage Is Dull

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Title: xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Director: D.J. Caruso
Summary: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

Sometimes, when I see a sequel to a movie that I’ve never seen show up on a calendar, I’ll go out of my way to try and watch the previous movies. I did this for Furious 7 when I decided that getting drunk and live blogging the entire experience was the way to go. Other times I have no desire to see the previous movies and that was the case of xXx: Return of Xander Cage. I have a feeling that seeing the trailers and reading the plot summaries on wikipedia would be more than enough. I enjoy dumb action movies when they are done well but I didn’t have a lot of faith going into this one.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage tried to be Suicide Squad and fails for the same reasons; unimaginative action scenes, a nonsense story and boring characters.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

As I said I haven’t seen the original two films but I was under the impression that the point of these movies, aside from star Vin Diesel’s wish fulfillment, is to make up the most insane action scenes you can possibly think of. We’re talking about things that no human being could ever survive, breaking physics, all of it, but if this movie is any indication of the previous two they must have been boring. The trailers have been hyping up this jungle action scene where Xander skies down a mountain that has no snow and goes down a hill on a skateboard. Those scenes were in the first ten minutes and that was about as insane as the movie got. There were dirtbikes that turned into versions of bikes that could get on water but none of it was as over the top as it could have been. There was an opportunity here to make up something crazy but instead it was one gunfight after another.

The comparisons to Suicide Squad mostly come down to the fact that they have on screen text whenever characters appear with their names and some stupid fact about them. If these facts were supposed to make us like these people then they spectacularly failed because there isn’t a likeable person in the bunch. Xander is a gross human being that women just throw themselves at for no reason. Three of his friends don’t have much personality beyond the basics (he describes them as “the good, the bad and the insane” and that’s about as much development as they get). If you’re in the theater to see Samuel L Jackson he has a total of ten minutes of screen time and half of it is kissing the butt of Brazilian soccer player Neymar Jr. No one makes out worse than Nina Dobrev who probably should have stayed on The Vampire Diaries. It’s hard to tell if she’s terrible (or if the character is terrible) but either way she is insufferable.

The only high points come from whenever Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa are on screen. They are both some of the best kept secrets in Asian cinema so it’s good to finally see them get some recognition. They are both extremely capable fighters in real life so their presence is almost jarring. If it was just the two of them it would be fine but whenever you see them in the same scene as Diesel or Michael Bisping you have to wonder why anyone else showed up for this movie. There is zero reason the two of them couldn’t win every fight they are in and it’s unintentionally hilarious to watch the movie contrive reasons for them not to break everyone’s legs and call it a day.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage was going for a dumb action movie but it almost isn’t dumb enough. Perhaps if it was a little more self aware or it tried to be a little funnier or had a sharper script there could have been something there. Instead it is a perfect January movie; disposable.

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