Thursday, January 26, 2017

[Review] xXx: Return of Xander Cage


Extreme stunts, insane setpieces, athletes-turned-actors, Vin Diesel's shoulder muscles... The third installment of the xXx series is a load of big ridiculous fun.

CIA Agent (played by Toni Collette with a stern, cold stare) tracks down the legendary Xander Cage (Diesel), who has been hiding out in the Dominican Republic after faking his own death (kind of like Tupac), and recruits him to retrieve a dangerous weapon called "Pandora's Box" from the hands of combat master Xiang (Donnie Yen aka Ip Man aka "I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me."). But Xander can't do it alone. He eventually teams with Bollywood superstar crossover Deepika Padukone, The Hound from "Game of Thrones", and Ruby Rose from "Orange Is the New Black".

First of all, this extravaganza of action never takes itself too seriously, and it's damned proud of it. It gleefully flaunts sequences of motorcycles (?) cruising through tubular waves, Vin Diesel scaling a jungle slope on a pair of skis, and Donnie Yen engaging in an acrobatic shootout while making sure to keep his cool leather jacket in pristine condition. I couldn't hate it if I tried. Even though none of it makes sense, and I wasn't sure what was going on at times, I have to appreciate the film's blistering pace. It takes off, never lets up, and jumps out of the jet before it overstays its welcome. It really feels like a goofy warmup for the highly anticipated The Fate of the Furious.

A lot of the dialogue is embarrassingly bad and poorly executed. The script basically sounds like your little cousin playing with action figures. But obviously I'm not expecting an Oscar-nominated screenplay here. It's not all terrible, though. Samuel L. Jackson shows up to deliver a couple of stellar lines like "It could be a wonderful world if we stop doing bad stuff to it," or more pertinent: "Kick some ass, get the girl, and try to look dope while you're doing it."

( 7/10 )

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