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xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Movie Review
Can a movie be deemed bad if it meant to be trash? Here's our full take on the latest xXx movie.
By: Ben Gourlay | Cinema Movie Reviews in HT & Movies | Posted: Jan 29, 2017 8:07 pm
TweakTown Rating: 71%Manufacturer: Paramount Pictures

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xXx: The Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

 

I'm not sure there's many TweakTown readers who remember 2002's xXx, let alone recall much of the film's plot. To jog your memory, the film aimed to out-Bond Bond (by the standards of the then latest entry Die Another Day, which rivalled Moonraker for the worst entry in the series) with a film built on a loosely connected number of over-the-top stunts, mixed with extreme sports, and a contrived 'coolness' factor from a post Fast and the Furious Vin Diesel.

 

It was so bad, I couldn't even watch till the end. Still, Sony Pictures pushed on, with a 2005 sequel sans Diesel that both stunk, and sunk the franchise for over a decade. Fast forward 12 years later and the series is back, with Diesel taking center stage amongst a contemporary ensemble cast. So, how does the rebirth of xXx fare?

 

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Following the apparent death of NSA agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), xXx (Vin Diesel) is brought back into active service by CIA agent Jane Marke (Toni Collette) to stop a device which has the power to bring earth's satellites crashing back to earth from falling into the wrong hands. To do so, he's going to need the help of his crew, including sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), DJ Harvard Zhou (Kris Wu), and kamikaze getaway driver Tennyson (Rory McCann).

 

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If you've happened to catch any of the film's marketing campaign, it's pretty clear that the movie isn't intending to take a step back into anything termed 'realism.' Even the theatrical poster shows the titular character appearing to surf on water. With a motorbike. But there's a difference between The Return of Xander Cage and the original film. This one knows its complete trash and doesn't pretend to be anything different.

 

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To be clear, the first hour of The Return of Xander Cage is a bit of a slog, including the introduction of a big ensemble cast, and the re-introduction of characters that have been absent from pop culture for quite some time. As is frequently the case with films of this ilk, the plot is needlessly convoluted, with a huge amount of exposition to cut through. But once the tone of the film settles down and the action kicks up a notch in the second half, it becomes a hilariously self-aware actioner which wears its heart on its sleeve.

 

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The charm of xXx is almost totally found in its ensemble cast, who with a wink and a smile deliver line after line of cringe-worthy dialogue and do their best to bring your guard down. Pushing 50 years old, it's probably about time that Vin Diesel started acting his age - he can't be the poster child for the Red Bull sports community forever, but he just about gets away with it. Proving he's just not the token Asian interspersed to unlock the Chinese box-office megabucks, Donnie Yen is a fantastic addition to the film, with a level of athleticism and charm that doesn't go unnoticed.

 

Ruby Rose is pretty well known in Australia, but 2017 is definitely the year she's broken Hollywood, with big roles in John Wick Chapter 2, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and here. It's hard not to like her, and her edgy look fits within the film universe with ease. The odd performer out is Toni Collette who purses her lips and rolls her eyes throughout as if she's remembering all the highly-regarded films she's featured in throughout her career. Still, you gotta pay them bills!

 

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So here's my quandary. How do you rate a film that's so clearly a dumpster fire, no matter how well its paced, directed or acted. At the end of the day, if entertainment is the aim of the game, then I've gotta admit that I found it entertaining as hell. Despite my initial resistance, The Return of Xander Cage successfully won me over with its total commitment to trash. You just need to be prepared to jump in and let it wash over you.

 

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