Movie Review – XxX: Return of Xander Cage

Xander Cage is back in action – but should you care? The short answer is no; the long answer is hell no.


Rhys Graeme-Drury

Remember 2002’s xXx? Yeah, me neither. Apparently there was a sequel with Ice Cube too. Who knew? Well, turns out they went and made another one – only this time, Vin Diesel is back in the lead role as Tony Hawk meets James Bond wannabe Xander Cage.

I’m not going to bore you with the plot details – mainly because there aren’t any. You think I’m joking, but I’m really not. This movie has no plot. It has fragments of exposition that masquerade as plot – but nothing actually resembling a narrative, character development or emotional arcs. Who needs that when you can have lots of totally rad stunts, bro?

So this random MacGuffin called ‘Pandora’s Box’ is dangerous and dangerous people have stolen it. Apparently the only person with enough charisma and balls to stop them is this bloke Xander Cage, who was dead but now he isn’t (bored yet?). Except he can’t do it alone, he needs an entourage of equally braindead friends to tag along; you’ve got a sharpshooter (Ruby Rose), a guy who likes crashing cars (Rory McCann), a two-dimensional love interest (Deepika Padukone) and a DJ who is so awesome that he distract baddies with his sick DJ powers (Kris Wu). I’m not kidding, that’s all he does in the entire movie.

Return of Xander Cage is the kind of film where every female character immediately disrobes the instant Diesel walks into a room; it’s the kind of film where motorbikes seamlessly transform into jet skis and no-one bats an eye; it’s the kind of film where someone can leap from one skyscraper to another with nothing but forward momentum to break their fall and they totally survive.

In fact, that’s not entirely accurate. Return of Xander Cage isn’t a film at all; it’s a string of increasingly ludicrous action sequences conjoined by the thinnest plot imaginable. It’s what you would get if you gave a six-year-old boy lots of Red Bull, made him watch the X-Games and then asked him to write a story about spies, skateboards and martial arts. In crayon.

Diesel does his best but just comes across as an insufferable douchebag with a handful of marbles jammed in his mouth. Not once did I buy into the fact that this guy was an elite daredevil/stuntman/super spy.

The supporting cast are an equally tiresome conveyer belt of irritating characters competing for attention with increasingly cartoonish and over-the-top performances. Nina Dobrev plays a quirky IT girl called Becky (of course) who immediately fangirls over Diesel when they first meet, transforming into a blithering mess of babbling techno jargon and expectant doe-eyes that is enough to make you feel queasy. Toni Collette and Donnie Yen are wasted; cameos from Samuel L Jackson and Brazilian football superstar Neymar are throwaway gags.

Terrible on every conceivable level, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is destined to spend an eternity buried at the bottom of the bargain bin. Spend your time and money elsewhere.

XxX: Return of Xander Cage  is available in Australian cinemas from January 19

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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