REVIEW – xXx: Return of Xander Cage by Brian Wallinger

January is always a strange month for film.  As the major Oscar contenders slowly expand out across the country, fresh off their December debuts big budget fare such as D. J. Caruso’s (“Eagle Eye”, “The Disappointments Room”) “xXx:  Return of Xander Cage” are unleashed to suspecting audiences.  This is the third film in the 14-year old franchise and marks Vin Diesel’s return to the fold.

Vin Diesel returns as Xander Cage, an extreme sports athlete-cum-government agent, comes out of a self-imposed exile to stop Xiang (Donnie Yen of “Rogue One” fame) from unleashing an unstoppable weapon.  Martial Arts star Yen is in top form while Samuel L. Jackson returns as Cage’s handler, Augustus Gibbons, Ice Cube returns in a cameo while Toni Collette gives a very one-dimensional performance as the ‘suit’.  Despite delivering some decent moments, Nina Dobrev plays an unnecessary and annoying aging hipster.  Rounding out Cage’s team are actress Ruby Rose, actor Tony Jaa and Depika Padukone.

The entire ensemble is all over the place as they try to work off of each other; they just end up colliding into one another coming off as silly.

Over all, Caruso’s direction is full of style, but little substance lacking originality and creativity.  The film is full of clichés and obvious double crosses giving us satisfying action with a thin, uninspired plot.  The bleak cinematography missed out on opportunities afforded the production with their location choices.

Nipping on the heels of the eighth entry in his longer-running “Fast and Furious” franchise, Diesel’s efforts to revive the “xXx” franchise is hit and a miss, typical of January film-going.  It makes up for “xXx:  State of the Union and it keeps a fast-paced tone, but it goes nowhere fast, lacking the creativity, dimensionality and fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s