Movie Review: xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)


Words cannot express how incredibly overwrought, insipid, hyperactive and foolishly exaggerated the third entry into the action-packed “xXx” film franchise is in the nonsensical and numbing operative spectacle, xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Monosyllabic muscle-bound action star Vin Diesel revisits the rollicking and roguish skin of athletic spy/sports enthusiast Xander Cage in yet another splashy — yet terribly sophomoric — throbbing thrill-ride that only die hard Diesel fanboys will swallow with unapologetic fervor.

When in doubt Diesel knows how his bread is buttered in terms of his box office appeal. The pumped-up performer has built his persona up with a couple of popular action flicks (only to leave them briefly before deciding to return front and center as savior). Diesel has done this tactic with the inexplicably adored “The Fast and the Furious” movie series as well as now with the aforementioned “xXx” offerings (Tyrese Gibson filled in for “2 Fast 2 Furious” and Ice Cube inherited the big screen honors in “xXx: State of the Union”). Here Diesel is called into service once again to capitalize on the extreme spy genre to satisfy those thrill-seekers who believe the action of “James Bond” and “Jason Bourne” to be relentlessly mild and the intelligence involved as being too high-brow.

Bottom line: Who the heck was pining for the ridiculous return of the attention-getting Xander Cage, other than the motivated machismo of star/co-producer Diesel looking to strut his all-too-familiar slick shtick in an empty-minded vanity project that is jumpier than a kangaroo with the hiccups? There is, however, something to playing to convoluted escapism and delivering a nonsensical charge to the loyal demographics that flock to this fare (whoever they may be). After all, Cage is as smooth as ice soothing your ailing tonsils. He is a chick magnet to the highest degree. He can turn his biceps and brawn into an invaluable weapon for the safety of his country and comrades. Overall, we get it . . . Xander Cage is a badass without boundaries and daredevil Diesel and his on-screen cohorts want to reinforce such titillating tripe. Go figure.

Granted that the sole purpose to xXx: Return of Xander Cage is to play into the pulsating popcorn pleasure of its audience while not expecting anyone to take the excitable escapades too seriously. Still, the tired formula for this particular genre in general (not to mention a Vin Diesel starring vehicle) feels utterly uninspired and recycled despite the ambitious showcasing of active triggers that include high-wire skiing through the woods, dirt bike surfing, daring skateboarding prowess while clinging to the side of a moving bus and oh yeah . . . a lot of colorful butt-kicking tactics to boot. The highly stylized lifestyle of the free-wheeling Cage is by-the-numbers hedonism — cause havoc, conquer the lovely ladies hormonal for his suave affections and, while taking care of business, come off looking cooler than 70’s bad motherf&%$# private eye John Shaft.

For those not quite familiar with the Xander Cage “mythology” he was an extreme sports talent that had been recruited by NSA head honcho Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson, “The Hateful Eight”) to utilize his competitive skills and abilities undercover. Now Cage is back in the saddle as he horses around on yet another challenging assignment that finds him butting heads with a trio of baddies in Deepika Padukone’s Serena, Donnie Yen’s Xiang and Tony Jaa’s Talon — a threatening threesome experimenting with dangerously rigging outer space satellites or something to that trivial effect. Of course the crafty Cage — beyond wily and reckless — is often reigned in by the likes of his superiors including Agent Jane Marke (Oscar and Emmy nominated Australian actress Toni Collette, needlessly toiling away in this toothless contraption of a spy thriller).

Director D.J. Caruso (“I Am Number Four”) merely goes through the motions with this disjointed spy caper that flexes its moronic muscles without offering much else to the preposterous proceedings. The displayed dialogue in a Lucky Charms cereal commercial has more credibility than the words leaving the lips of the featured players in this woefully generic actioner. Diesel, who has shown some promise as an actor previously in films such as 2000’s “Boiler Room” and 2006’s “Find Me Guilty,” has since played it safe relying on the frivolous “sure thing” with the repetitive “Furious” installments and other brainless blow-em-up movie projects like “Riddick” (which Diesel mortgaged his own house to get made) to keep himself relevant in Hollywood. This, by the way, is not a good thing.

Although they say that a single “X” usually marks the spot it takes the triple “X”es in xXx: Return of Xander Cage to disprove this theory when welcoming back the chaotic coolness that is Diesel’s Xander Cage — the sensationalized showboat that should have left his one-dimensional adventurous tendencies back in the year 2002.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad

2

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The Critical Movie Critics

Frank Ochieng has been an online movie reviewer for various movie outlets throughout the years before coming on board at CMC. Previously, Frank had been a film critic for The Boston Banner (now The Bay State Banner) urban newspaper and had appeared on Boston's WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM for an 11-year run as a recurring media commentator/panelist on the "Movie/TV Night" overnight broadcasts. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Internet Film Critics Society (IFCS). Frank is a graduate of Suffolk University in the historic section of Boston's Beacon Hill.


'Movie Review: xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)' have 4 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 24, 2017 @ 5:00 pm Ofu Cal

    An unnecessary action sequel no one called for. Generic, and 200% stupid.

    Reply

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 24, 2017 @ 5:41 pm Dave Halpern

    Give me another Transporter movie (with Jason Statham).

    Reply

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 24, 2017 @ 10:16 pm gee

    The movie may be a waste of film stock, but I have to tip my hat off to Vin Diesel. The guy may have no discernible talent as an actor but he still somehow managed to be a significant part of some major franchises – Fast & Furious, Pitch Black and Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Reply

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 25, 2017 @ 3:38 am non-cash-purchase

    I cant believe this got another sequel!

    Reply


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