xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2D)
Cert: 12A / 107 mins / Dir. D.J. Caruso / Trailer
Sometimes, you just know that the first-draft of a movie script was written in crayon. Also that no further drafts were considered necessary. Welcome to a film where the cinema staff performed IQ tests on patrons on the way in and out of the screening, to make sure no permanent cumulative damage had been done. Welcome to what is basically continuous chase/fight sequence, briefly punctuated by Toni Collette*1 pouting. Welcome to an actioner for viewers who find Vin Diesel's Fast & Furious movies "a bit complicated". Welcome to that performer's character flirting with every female on-screen while you bite off the inside of your own cheek. Welcome back, Xander Cage*2…
You know the drill, Diesel takes his shirt off and things explode for two hours, in lieu of a screenplay. That Paramount have seen fit to unleash this unasked-for threequel in the middle of January, should go some way to illustrating their confidence in it. It's a movie for a certain type of punter. This afternoon's screening played to eight people; all white, all male, all unaccompanied. Okay, I was in that bracket too, but hey.
The plot*3 centres around Cage and his expanding band of misfits working to recover a magic box being used by The Bad Terrorists™ to weaponise satellites by making them fall out of orbit (and apparently doing so to a metre-precise target-zone). Except obviously The Good Spy Agency™ is morally dubious, as well. And then people from The Bad Ones™ turn out to be The Good Ones™, and 45 minutes in none of it actually matters. One thing's for sure though, Vin Diesel plays A Good One. We know he's good because all of the women want to have it off with him, and pretty much all of the men can't help paying him compliments at every turn or getting punched in the face as a consequence. That is the film. Almost as good as that time Diesel made a full movie about his own Dungeons & Dragons character.
I'm not going to go into the myriad logical inconsistencies presented throughout the film's run-time; xXx doesn't deserve that level of analysis. Things might be different if it was All Good Fun™ at the same time, but this is lazy, reductive and staggeringly misogynistic, with Diesel's vacant grin being the icing on the already substandard cake. At least Assassin's Creed had the decency to keep a straight-face while it insulted everyone.
I've said as much before, but any film which features a middle-aged man on a skateboard is a cry for help.
The best line comes from Toni Collette's agency-boss Marke when she berates Xander Cage with "…I don't believe this shit".
I could only nod discreetly in code-compliant sympathy…
The cinematic and dramatic oeuvre of Vinegar Diesel.
Hahahahaha, why not?
xXx: Return of Xander Cage succeeds in being exactly what it intends to be.
Albeit for exactly the wrong reasons.
Oh, quite possibly.
Level 1: This film stars not only Mace Windu but also Chirrut Îmwe.
*1 Vin Diesel I understand, he just needs the attention. But what kind of gambling debts has the award-winning Toni Collette racked up that she's been roped into this absolute shower? At least she looks mortified at the lines she's been asked to read…
*2 I'm a little surprised that for the third Triple-X movie they didn't go for the title/tagline X3. The imminent Trainspotting sequel seems to have no problem repurposing Terminator's T2 abbreviation, and if it's okay to plagiarise something from a movie as great as that, then the third X-Men movie should present no moral conundrums, surely? And not to get too spoilerific, but Return of Xander Cage has had no problem at all in lifting Deadpool's "something stuck in your teeth" gag, as well as having Sam Jackson's agency-boss fake his own death for an end-of-movie funeral service in pretty much exactly the same way as Nick Fury did in Winter Soldier. No, seriously.
*3 I am of course using the word 'plot' in a sense every bit as loose as the screenplay itself. The word 'screenplay' also used loosely.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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