Sunday, January 22, 2017

Movie Review: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) makes his triumphant return in the third xXx installment. The movie begins with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) recruited Neymar to the triple-X program when a satellite crashes down and kills them. Agent Jane Marke (Toni Collette) gathers together top representatives of each spy agency to discuss the Pandora's box, a device that can bring down any satellite at any time. Crashing this meeting is Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his team including Serena Unger (Deepika Padukone).

These team steals the Pandora's box and escaped to a far off hideout on a lawless party island in the Philippines. Xander is reintroduced dropping from a satellite tower and skiing down a mountain before retrieving a skateboard and taking that down winding roads. Pulling from the originals, Xander is recruited again, this time by Agent Marke. The movie sprawls out over several countries jumping from London, the Philippines, and Detroit. It adds to the film that it is constantly traveling and has a global feel.

The stunts remain and the xXx tradition of taking vehicles out of their natural use and putting them somewhere else. In this case, Xander chases Xiang out into the ocean riding the waves on motorcycles. The team fills out with some other characters including sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), DJ Nicks (Kris Wu), crash expert Tennyson (Rory McCann) and tech expert Becky (Nina Dobrev). The other team after the Pandora's box is also a remnant of the xXx program once recruited by Agent Gibbons including Xiang, Serena, Talon (Tony Jaa), and Hawk (Michael Bisping). 

The movie takes the usual twists in turns with several villains interchanging and Xander never knowing who he can trust. The twists are telegraphed and a lot of moves seemed to be taken with future sequels in mind. It felt as if this film was a reboot of the series trying to capitalize on the original though it did not forget the second film bringing in a cameo from Ice Cube as his character Darius Stone. 

The movie embraces the absurdity of its premise and doesn't take itself too seriously, using every opportunity to throw out a joke. It's good fun at the movies, nothing too taxes on the brain the plot is straightforward. The movie delivers on the action with a cool zero-G fight on a plan at the end though some shoddy special effects detract from a few parts. Xander seems unstoppable and maybe the franchise will keep on rolling with Diesel's help. 

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