In my memories xXx was a reasonably measured action movie. Vin Diesel was a professional badass with a flair for political statement stunts. One too many statements later he gets scooped up by Samuel L Jackson and sent to infiltrate some Russian anarchists because he’s a different kind of hero. There were gadgets and explosions and chases and women. xXx: Return of Xander Cage doesn’t have restraint in its vocabulary, much like Xander tells his gadget gal (Nina Dobrev in the best turn of the whole picture) he doesn’t have “safeword” in his vocabulary. 

Think of the James Bond movies at their worst and most ridiculous. Now add an image of hulked out Vin Diesel on a wee dirt bike of a motorcycle surf-sking a tube on said bike. Yes, this cycle be was using to punch people at an outlaw beach brawl that lasted long enough for the sun to come fully up had the ability to deploy skis so that Xander could pursue his target (on a bike gifted with similar Chitty Chitty Bang Bang powers) over wetlands and right into the surf of the Pacific. 

Basically, what I’m getting at here is xXx: Return of Xander Cage is an epically bad movie. If you have a healthy appreciation for such fare, you may want to stick around though, because things just get more ridiculous from there.

The plot of xXx: Return of Xander Cage, insomuch as it matters is this. X is living a quiet life of heisting satellite to exhibit soccer games for free, much to the delight of his neighbors. Meanwhile, back in the world a piece of super tech called “Pandora’s Box,” because of course it’s called Pandora’s Box, is creating problems for the CIA. It has the power to spy on any device from anywhere, and also to cause satellites to drop from the sky so they can be used like physical weapons too. We’re introduced to this by watching Gibbons (that’s Samuel L. Jackson) get blown away. Prompting his colleague, Jane Marke (Toni Collette) to pull Xander out of retirement to save the world again. But also, mostly to save that sweet, sweet technology. 

Xander recruits some badass pals (Ruby Rose, Kris Wu and Rory McCann) to help him and gets to work. Of course, this being Xander Cage work is mostly hobnobbing with other adrenaline junkies, making occasionally snappy jokes and making advances at a lot of women. At one point, our guy turns up in London for some tech help from a predictably beautiful hacker. She spurns his advances, but turns her silent squad of rooftop pool lounging beauties over to him for an orgy. This isn’t two or three women, it’s at least a dozen. 

But you know, this is a role Vin Diesel has always worn well. And though this is nowhere near as satisfying as the impossibly good Fast franchise, he feels comfortable here, and quite aware of how absurd all of this has become. Curiously, the person least able to roll with the punches here is (the normally wonderful) Toni Collette. Perhaps she is was counting the seconds until she could cash in for taking this gig. Perhaps she didn’t know what to make of how transparent and poorly written her character is. Whatever the circumstances, it seems like she’s the only one not in on the joke. And her no-nonsense cold, hard bitch approach to Markes feels forced and wooden. What a waste. 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is poorly written, lazily plotted and completely ridiculous. Even the spectacle is uneven. But for all of this, if you took Ruby Rose and Nina Dobrev and gave them a spin-off as an odd-couple xXx-team, I would be there say one. With bells on. 


xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Rich Wilkes, based on characters created by F. Scott Frazier
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1h 47mins
Release Date: January 20,2017
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

About Brooke Wylie

Co-Scribbler-in-Chief. Ravenclaw. Cinephile. Bookworm. Trivia Enthusiast. Voiceover apologist. Prone to lapsing into a poor English accent.

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