Daily Archives: February 1, 2017

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

Explosions.  Destruction.  Mayhem.  Vin Diesel’s big bald head.

BQB here with a review of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

SPOILER ALERT…I mean, if you care about that sort of thing when it comes to a movie like this.

So, I came up with some alternate titles for this stinker:

  • “xXx: Xander Cage is Back…and No One Gives a Shit.”
  • “xXx: Do You Remember?  Vin Was in This Movie Fifteen Years Ago and He Played a Guy Named Xander Cage?  Aw, Come On.  Of Course You Remember.  Just Think About It.  Still Nothing?  OK.  Look It Up On IMDB.  We’ll Wait.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Back to the Shit that Actually Makes Him More After Finally Realizing that Hollywood will Never Give Him an Oscar Worthy Role.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Reviving the Movies that Made Him Money Back in the Day But He’s Too Old to Be Awesome and the People Who Would Have Liked to Have Seen More of this Franchise Fifteen Years Ago Are Too Old To Give a Shit Now”
  • “xXx: Our Crew Rubbed Some Peanut Butter on Vin’s Lips So We Can Get Him to Deliver His Lines Just Like We Did With Mr. Ed.”
  • “xXx: Bookshelf Q. Battler Wasted His Life Between the Original and This Pile of Drek.”

But I digress.  You know, despite my snarky titles, I actually did enjoy this film to an extent.  It’s pretty tight, as action movies released in January go, though I admit that isn’t saying a lot.

When the new millennium was young, Vin Diesel hit the scene with movies like The Fast and the Furious and xXx.  He was also in Pitch Black, arguably the best thing he’s ever been in, largely because the role called for a creepy, enormous dude with a deep voice.

Since then, he’s shown love to the Fast and Furious franchise by returning in Fast Five and now there are so many of those damn movies I have lost count. He’s shown love to Riddick but in my opinion, Riddick was at his best in Pitch Black and though 2013’s Riddick was acceptable, 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick was a giant stink burger.

Now Vin’s back with a new xXx installment.   Back in the early 2000’s, extreme sports were in.  Parachuting.  Dirt bike racing.  Bungie chord jumping.  All those things that beautiful idiots do because for some reason, the world looks out for them a little more whereas I stub my toe regularly while walking from the kitchen to the bathroom and thus I’m sure I’d die instantly if I tried to jump out of a plane.

I digressed again.  The idea behind the xXx character was that Vin would be an extreme sports loving, American badass version of James Bond, but with more appeal to the youngsters.

I don’t want to say the film flopped.  As I recall, it was a blockbuster.  But it was also forgettable.  Over the years, I’ve seen it while flipping channels and ended up watching it out of a feeling of nostalgia, mostly as it reminds me of a time when I could have made fun of Vin because I had more hair than he did.

Sigh.  Stupid hair.

Another digression.  This go around, Xander Cage is recruited back into action when…oh God, I don’t know.  You know how these movies are.  Some stupid thing has been stolen by some piece of shit bad guy and the good guy has to get it before the bad guy does evil shit with it.

Donnie Yen steals the show as Shang.  Is Shang a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s complicated.  All I know is you get to see his sweet kung fu moves.  Donnie remains one of my heroes for proving that you can still be a badass even when you are no longer a member of the highly coveted 18-35 year old demographic.

A bunch of youngsters and one old dude are added to Xander’s support team.  I assume a bunch of Hollywood suits decided that Vin was getting a little long in the tooth and needed some fresh faces in the mix.  Honestly, the only one I recognized was Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black fame.  Oh and I hear she’s big in Australia.  I have no idea what Australian films she’s been in.  As an American, I assume that Australian TVs show kangaroos fornicating with koala bears 24/7.

Toni Collette stars as…a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s also complicated.  She’s made up to look like a hot blonde chick but kind of ends up looking like an old hooker that no one told there’s an age limit to hookery.  Although, do keep in mind I think that’s what the intent behind the character was.

Blah blah blah.  Shit happens.  They fight.  There’s some bad CGI that looks like it was drawn in crayon.

Throughout the film there are numerous jokes and references that harken back to the first and second films.  Although they are meant to be humorous, I just sat there in the theater wanting to hang myself because I have lived such an uneventful life low these past fifteen years that my brain had plenty of room to recall moments from a forgettable, throwaway 2002 film.

Samuel L. Jackson (Augustus Gibbons, xXx’s handler in the first two films) and Ice Cube (Darius, or the agent who took over as a xXx agent in 2005’s xXx: State of the Union) provide the best cameos of the film.  They were so good in fact that it made me wonder why the Hollywood suits didn’t just cut out the supporting cast and come up with a blockbuster script revolving around Diesel, Jackson and Ice Cube worthy of a release date outside of January.  Then again, not to spoil it, but there’s a part at the end that leads me to believe they may go that way.

There’s a scene where Vin flirts with CIA tech nerd Becky (Nina Dobrev).  It’s played straight and humorous but in my mind it looked like an old man trying to pick up one of his daughter’s friends or some shit.

Sigh.  I worry about Vin.  One day he’ll age out of these action roles and it’s not like Hollywood will ever let him do Shakespeare so I don’t know what he will do.

Oh wait.  He’ll roll around in all of his money.  Good for him.  You know, I’ve never really known what to make of Vin Diesel.  Part of me thinks he’s this big, hulking, dumb cro-magnon jock that just gets to be in movies because of his muscles.  Then again, his face is kind of ugly and he doesn’t exactly have a look that Hollywood normally welcomes, so as the ambassador of the #OscarsSoPretty movement, I applaud the Vinster and I hope that yes, one day Hollywood will let him perform Shakespeare and/or be in something that could potentially lead to him getting a gold statue that is as bald as he is.

“Forsooth…uh…uhh..someone get the peanut butter.”

STATUS:  Borderline shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.

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