xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Film, Action and adventure
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xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel returns in this very silly sequel to the early 90s action blockbuster

Who the hell is Xander Cage? A valid question, particularly if you don’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of stalled twenty-first-century action franchises. Back in 2002, ‘XXX’ saw skate-punk Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) recruited by shady CIA officer Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) to be his top terrorist-fighting secret agent. But efforts to drum up a sequel went sideways when Diesel dropped out and Ice Cube stepped into 2005’s ‘XXX: State of the Union’ as Cage replacement Darius Stone (if nothing else, the series has a way with names).

Now here we are, 15 years since the first movie, and a combination of major Chinese investment, Diesel’s evident enthusiasm and presumably some sort of under-the-radar popular demand has dragged Big Vin back into the fold. The stage is set for a doomed attempt to relight the old fire. Right? Actually, no. ‘XXX: The Return of Xander Cage’ may be dumb as a post. It may be trashy, pointless and riddled with plot holes. But if it doesn’t slap a big silly smile on your face, you may want to check your pulse.

In the time-honoured tradition of retired beat-em-up legends, Cage is sunning himself in a tropical backwater when the call comes down from ice-queen Marke (Toni Collette on fierce form) that his old handler has been murdered by rogue terrorist Xiang (Donnie Yen). And before you can say ‘Wait, isn’t he a bit old now?’, Cage is back in action, recruiting a crack team that includes The Hound from ‘Game of Thrones’ and a kid who looks like a Chinese pop star (because he is). What follows is loopy in the extreme: Vin and Donnie go at it hammer and tongs, Collette storms around like the love child of Cruella De Vil and Theresa May, and did you know motorbikes can go surfing now?

Diesel still looks like a cartoon penis with a face drawn on it, and at 49 he’s starting – unsurprisingly – to look just a little flaccid. But luckily, neither he nor anyone else is taking this remotely seriously: cars explode, fists fly, sneering kiss-off lines flow like water and a middle-aged man rides a skateboard in cut-off shorts without anybody laughing at him. It’s also pleasingly diverse, balancing out some dubious up-close booty-shaking by passing the Bechdel Test with flying colours. If all you need from a night out is 107 brainless minutes of shiny, noisy fun, step on up.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday January 20 2017
Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: D.J. Caruso
Screenwriter: F. Scott Frazier, Chad St. John
Cast: Vin Diesel
Nina Dobrev
Samuel L. Jackson

Average User Rating

4 / 5

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tastemaker

This might seem like a strange movie to but I feel pretty strongly about why this movie is actually pretty great. I have watched the first xXx and I do generally love a good action movie. From this background I felt that this movie achieved what it wanted to brilliantly. And a fun, extravagant and no holds barred action movie is what this movie wanted to achieve. The cast is a fantastic international line-up with Deepika Padukone (Bollywood star), Donnie Yen (star of Ip Man series), Tony Jaa (Thai martial artist) and Toni Collete (Muriel's wedding) in all her one-liner, steely eyes glory, where the stand outs. The action is tight and all out really making use of Donnie and Tony's martial arts backgrounds. For those in the know the movie makes reference to many action movie tropes and the prequel (rember the fur coat?) which harks back to the fact this is all about having some fun making the movie you've wanted to as a child - whether it be coolly walking away from a burning building or a legendary chase scene in jet ski. A great Friday night and popcorn movie - enjoy the action, the martial arts and the one liners!