• Forum
  • XXX Return Of Xander Cage

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 20th, 2017

    Overall
    (out of 5)

    I’ll say this for Vin Diesel, he always returns to a franchise. It doesn’t matter how long has passed between his introduction and his exit; you can always count on him returning and stepping back into a role regardless of how many years it’s been, like nothing has ever changed. Doesn’t matter what it is; Fast and Furious, Riddick, and now XXX: the Return of Xander Cage. For those not familiar with the franchise (though I’m sure there few people who don’t already know about the original), XXX was an action film that was released in 2002 featuring Diesel as Xander Cage, an extreme sports enthusiast who is recruited by the NSA to foil a terrorist plot, which he accomplishes with such flair that an idea is born: create a program for a group of rebels who can get close to the criminals that the government can only dream of. Thus a franchise was born. Sadly, Diesel’s involvement appeared to end with the killing off of his character in the 2005 sequel (thus making way for Ice Cube’s involvement with the franchise). However, Xander Cage has apparently returned from the grave. Now going into this film there was only one burning question plaguing me: how did Cage survive his own assassination attempt?

    Though I don’t feel like my question was completely answered, I will say that that stopped mattering so much once Diesel appeared on the screen. Following the attempt on his life, Xander Cage has assumed a nomadic life, moving from place to place in order to avoid being found. Although I wouldn’t necessarily say he is keeping a low profile; I mean, he’s still Xander Cage. He has to chase the rush. He is eventually found by Marke (Toni Collette), a high-ranking government official in need of his services after a group of operatives (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) who, like him, live life on the edge, steal a cutting-edge technology capable of turning satellites into warheads. Tasked with retrieving the technology, Xander realizes he can’t accomplish this alone and refuses help from the suits, with the exception of his new technical support liaison, Becky (Nina Dobrev), Xander recruits some young blood (Ruby Rose, Kris Wu, Rory McCann) to help him with his mission. Before long, Xander finds himself embroiled in a situation that he doesn’t fully understand but is likely to lead him down a rabbit hole that he is gonna have to use every trick in his arsenal in order to survive, and he’s loving every second of it.

    So going into the movie, I expected a total cliché sequel and action sequences that bordered on the ridiculous. I got the latter but not the former. Although the storyline was predictable in some of its developing, the film still managed to catch me off guard with a midway twist that I was kicking myself for not seeing coming. Kudos on that score. Additionally, it was a fun to watch. It didn’t take itself too seriously, he didn’t dwell on the past, and focused mainly on the evolution of the main character and the world that he now finds himself a part of. The premise is a bit bland and underdeveloped in regards to this sought-after technology. What it is capable of is explained, but beyond that all information is a mystery. A bit more exploration into the tech’s origins would have gone a long way into establishing its importance.

    The injection of new blood was a welcome sight, especially Ruby Rose, who plays Adele Wolff, a friend of Xander’s with excellent aim. Rose, dare I say, had a more commanding presence than Diesel as I found myself really identifying with her character despite not knowing much about her and her origins. Rose had no trouble outshining her fellow recruits who when it comes to special skills ranked slightly above comic relief. The truth is I think we still would have had the same movie with or without their participation. In addition, on the villain side, only two characters that mattered: Yen and Padukone. Like Wu and McCann, Jaa and Bisping are little more than fluff designed to ramp up the star power, although I did enjoy watching Jaa’s breakdancing/fight moves. Not to mention that these four were rendered completely irrelevant by a surprise cameo indicating that “X takes cares of its own.”

    I’m not predicting that it will win at the box office, but I do believe that people who go to see it, whether it be fans or newcomers, will have an enjoyable experience. There is plenty of action and quips to satisfy everyone, and the ladies prove themselves to be just as lethal as the men. Most importantly, XXX: Return of Xander Cage is proof positive that if you are patient, Vin Diesel will come back to any of his franchises, even if it means coming back from the dead. Now that  just means that I just need to sit tight for Knockaround Guys 2.

    Posted In: The Reel World

    Leave a Reply

    CSS Template by RamblingSoul | Tomodachi theme by Theme Lab