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

I know I did say I’d review all the great movies I’ve been watching but in the last couple of weeks most of the films have either been mediocre or good with nothing really standing out as truly exceptional. I’ve seen movies such as Bull Durham, The Highwaymen, Dumplin’, Stronger and Black ‘47 all of which I have enjoyed but I wouldn’t say they were great movies and worthy of a review as they simply didn’t reach that level of quality for me. However, I did say I’d also put out a review of some the awful movies that I had the displeasure of watching and along came xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Wow what a pile of trash this movie was!

When the first xXx movie got released back in 2002 I was merely a 14 year old kid who was easily pleased with explosions and bad ass fighting which Xander Cage offered in abundance. I haven’t seen the movie for a long, long time but if I rewatched it now I’d probably be a little disappointed with myself for liking it quite a lot once upon a time. The sequel to xXx came out a few years later with Ice Cube taking over as the lead and I just skipped it. The trailers didn’t look appealing and from what I gathered from reviews on IMDb at the time the reception was not that great, to put it politely. Fast forward over a decade Vin Diesel finally reprised the role of Xander Cage, the street smart, daredevil saviour of the world who marched to the beat of his own drum. Again, I fully intended to let this movie pass me by without a care but it appeared on Netflix recently and was available for download so it became my train journey entertainment as I travel to and from work. I use the word entertainment lightly of course given the next paragraph I’m about to deliver.

Vin Diesel was as monotone as ever as he reprises a role that seemingly nobody wanted to see him reprise. He was joined by a selection of relatively big names, not all of which are thought of as actors, such as football player Neymar and former UFC fighter Michael Bisping. Alongside these questionable casting selections were Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose and Rory McCann. Many of these actors were used so poorly that despite me liking them for other stuff they’ve done in their career, I found it hard to watch them through this movie. I watched Ip Man 1-3 towards the end of last year and beginning of this year and thought Donnie Yen was absolutely incredible, not just as a martial artist but as an actor too. As with many Asian movie stars who transition to Hollywood, he just seemed misused and given a lot of poor and cliche dialogue and his Martial Arts capabilities were never truly utilised throughout the movie. Also Rory McCann who plays my favourite Game of Thrones character, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane features in this movie and I feel like he was wasted quite considerably. While he is a funny guy, he’s also a massive man who can be very intimidating and I felt he was wasted as the goofy comedy guy as he has the potential to be so much more than that. Ruby Rose was also terrible and surprisingly so was Toni Collette, she appeared to be very wooden and awkward looking in most of her scenes.

The chemistry between most of the characters was way off point and i hated the character of Becky Clearidge, the tech support for Xander and his team of misfits, as she was awkward and trying way too hard to be comical when it wasn’t necessary. The way she interacted with Xander Cage Upon first meeting him was also very cringey and felt more like an ego rub for Vin Diesel as she was overly complementary towards his physique and looks, was just a weird scene. Although Vin Diesel was the star of the movie it didn’t seem he had to do much work as his stunt double seemed to get more screen time than him due to the sheer amount of ludicrous, over the top action sequences. There wasn’t a single shred of realism in most of the action sequences and while I like a nice explosion or fight scene in a movie, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage took everything it did to the next level of ridiculousness. The final sequence in the plane where Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen were fighting off the bad guys was insanely long an tiresome. It felt like a non stop 20 minute fighting extravaganza which got boring real quick and never seemed to want to end.

To simplify things, this is an atrocious movie and the only thing stopping me from giving it a 1/10 was the inclusion of Rory McCann. While not utilised correctly as an actor I still did like his character, I think, but then again I’m not sure if I like his character because I have a fondness for his GoT character. Who knows? Just avoid this movie!!

2/10

Until next time,

-Mike

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