Reviews: xXx – the Return of Xander Cage, wonderfully daft superspy fun

Published On May 11, 2017 | By Richmond Clements | Film TV & Theatre, Reviews

xXx: the Return of Xander Cage,

Directed by D.J. Caruso,

Starring Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Colette, Ruby Rose, Kris Wu, Tony Jaa

 

On one of the occasions I saw the comedian Stewart Lee performing live, he was doing his trademark thing of railing against the audience for not being clever enough to get his jokes. “You’re not equipped to review me,” he yelled at us.

What has any of that got to do with xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, you may well be wondering..? Well, it’s because this movie is totally and utterly bonkers. I mean really mad. So bonkers crazy that it’s almost beyond review.
This is a film so lacking in subtlety it makes Vin Diesel’s other franchise – the multi-billion dollar behemoth that is the Fast & Furious – look like John le Carré by comparison. And frankly that’s part of the appeal – not to mention the sheer fun.

The movie’s first big set-piece has Diesel’s anti-establishment bad boy Xander Cage skiing – yes skiing – down the side of a television tower and over the treetops and through the jungle. He moves from skis to skateboard to foot, all the while watching a ticking countdown. This scene sets out the Absurd stall right from the get go, with a great punchline (which I won’t spoil here) as the countdown reaches zero. It’s a good statement of what’s to come.

So, anyway, the plot. Yeah, something about a McGuffin that makes satellites fall from the sky. That’s not actually that important though, not really, it’s just an excuse for some magnificently over-the-top set pieces. What is important is that this has Tony Jaa literally dodging bullets. It has Rory McCann (The Hound from A Game of Thrones) playing a stunt driver. It has Toni Collette being super bad ass cool. It has Ruby Rose (last seen in John Wick Chapter 2) as a super sniper (introduced in a nice eco-warrior moment). It has a van with Pork Chop Express written on the side. It has a cameo that I can’t quite decide is genius or completely rubbish. It could be both.

Oh, and it has a scene where Cage pursues no less that martial arts superstar Donnie Yen on a motorbike. A motorbike, you say, big whoop. Did I mention that they drive the motorbikes across the sea? Yep. The stunts are insane, but many of these moments are delivered with a knowing wink to the audience – the film-makers know this is an exaggeration of an action movie cliche, but they also know the audience for this film know that, and they wink at us because we’re all in on the joke and all having a good time with it

This is by no measure what you’d call a good movie. But it is funny, fast and fun and a helluva great couple of hours entertainment; some insane action and a lot of laughter. Not a bad way to spend an evening!

xXx: the Return of Xander Cage is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 29th

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About The Author

Richmond Clements
Richmond Clements has been both writing about comics and writing the comics themselves for many years, as well as other works, including being an editor for FutureQuake Press and being co-founder of the Hi-Ex series of comic conventions in Inverness.

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