xxxposter

xXx: Return of Xander Cage – Charming with So Much Energy & Enthusiasm [Review]

Share

This week it was either Split or xXx and since multiple-personality plots annoy me and I still haven’t quite forgiven M. Night Shyamalan (despite the excellent The Visit, last year) so it had to be xXx: Return of Xander Cage.  I was not optimistic.  The first xXx was 14 years ago and was just a couple years after Pitch Black, my favorite Vin Diesel film.  Could this new instalment measure up to the original and would it be worth watching?  

Vin-Diesel-Deepika-Padukone-starrer-xXx-Return-of-Xander-Cage-film-posterXander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.


xxx-the-return-of-xander-cage-vin-diesel-donnie-yen

I was surprised by how fun xXx: The Return of Xander Cage was to watch.  The Action film genre is fairly forgiving (surpassed only by Kid’s films for its ability to sell without any regard to quality) but xXx actually had a lot going for it.  For one thing it was beautiful right off the hop.  Even the opening credits had good use of color.  Beautiful shots and gorgeous locals, it was pretty clear that whoever was in charge knew that film is a visual medium.  The action scenes and stunts were awesome.  But there was more to it – xXx was charming because the whole film looked like it was a hoot to make. There was just so much energy and enthusiasm – everyone looked really glad to be there, in exactly the way Spectre’s Daniel Craig didn’t.  

xxxFunny how the xXx series reminds me of Suicide Squad.  I’m not sure who stole from whom first but both have bad guys going after worse guys to save the world and both have the same careful regard for scientific credibility.  The difference between the two is  that all the xXx heroes/antiheroes have the same superpowers – flawless superhuman aim, inhuman coordination and the ability to ignore gravity to some degree.  It used to be that we had to justify the ability to do these things (they’re robots, mutants, in the Matrix, etc) but now all the justification they need, apparently, is that they’re really into extreme sports.  It worked though.  And why?  Because they established their rules early and stuck to them perfectly.  Sure the logistics were ridiculous, but  no less unbelievable than, say, Batman.

xxx-the-return-of-xander-cage-official-trailer-teaser-2017-vin-diesel-movie
As for the writing, I can’t really decide.  xXx is perfectly paced (like, weirdly perfect).  There’s a measurable goal within  the first 20 minutes, there’s a plot twist right at the mid-point and there’s a moment of despair right before the end.  Not only that but there’s breaks in in the action to advance the plot and give viewers a rest.  Also it passes the Bechdel Test effortlessly and to great effect.  But with all that good stuff, the dialogue was so bad I think it gave me a rash. I’m not sure what happened there but my guess is that they were trying to show machismo through dialogue and as we all know, the most manly of men say almost nothing at all, they’re too busy doing stuff.  What ended up happening is that the guys had these amazing fights and stunts and when it was done they talked like posers.  

xxxreleaseSo is xXx: The Return of Xander Cage worth watching?  It could be, if you’re a fan of the series or of Vin Diesel.  I still crush on him far more than I’m comfortable admitting and in this film he was shirtless early and often.  He’s still got it, even at 49, apparently.  There was some good acting and legitimately fun moments and just the right amount of Samual L. Jackson for my tastes.   

Rating: