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xXx: Return of Xander Cage Blu-ray review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Blu-ray review

Cinema has a long tradition of sending completely inappropriate people to save the world. From the oil rig workers sent to space in Armageddon, to the cast of the Fast and Furious franchise, who over eight films have morphed from drag racers into some sort of elite black ops unit of superheroes. The xXx films request a similar leap of faith from the viewer, as they posit the idea that the US government hires extreme sport dudes to conduct their international espionage. I guess anything’s possible these days.

So here we are, 15 years since the original, and Vin Diesel, with tongue firmly in cheek, is back as Xander Cage. The tone is set early on in the film, when he jumps off a pylon and proceeds to ski through a jungle. If this loses you, then you’ve got no chance with the rest of it.

The plot manages the dual feat of being both preposterous and blandly generic at the same time. Note to screenwriters of action movies – please start thinking of new MacGuffins that aren’t “machines that can hack into anything”. It’s getting really boring. Riffing heavily on the Fast movies, Diesel’s Xander Cage is approached by a government spook – in this case a slumming Toni Collette – to deal with this ridiculous threat. He then assembles his crack team of extreme badasses.

The films greatest strength, without a doubt, is the diverse and multicultural supporting cast, made up of some the biggest names in mainstream world cinema. The likes of Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, and Deepika Padukone are huge names in Asian and Bollywood cinema, and seeing them kicking ass in a big US film (even one as dumb as this) is a real pleasure. They each bring their own set of skills, whether it be as a getaway driver, sharp-shooter, or martial arts expert.

However, one of the gang, Nicks (Kris Wu) is a DJ. Now I don’t know if I missed something when I watched this, but the ability to “get the party started” doesn’t seem all that helpful when there is a madman crashing satellites into the Earth like nuclear warheads.

So yes, this is of course a complete nonsense of a film, with some of the stinkiest dialogue you have ever heard. The action isn’t anywhere near good enough to elevate the material in the way that, say, Fast 5 & 6 did with similarly daft plots. But…and it’s a bloody big but…if you’re willing to switch off your brain and go with the flow it is a surprisingly enjoyable way to waste two hours.

★★½

This review first appeared on Entertainment Focus

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