XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (D.J. Caruso, 2017) 5/10

xxx-the-return-of-xander-cage

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Samuel L. Jackson

Genre: Action

After coming out of self-imposed exile, daredevil operative Xander Cage (Diesel) is asked by the US Government to recover a sinister weapon known as Pandora’s box, a device that can control every satellite in the world. However, due to the screenwriter’s inability to put together a semi-coherent plot, Xander and his team of supposedly random operatives (that seems to cover most ethnicities and sexualities) find themselves entangled in a wider Government conspiracy (apparently).

The plot to XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is indeed a hard plot to describe coherently, because the fact it is that this piece of utter nonsense does not even attempt to have a coherent plot and seems to not have any care for this fact.

For anyone watching this film, the most important point to consider is the fact that Vin Diesel is not only the leading actor (loose definition of the word ‘actor’ of course), but that he is also the producer. So far, so Riddick……

Though this film may be as downright stupid as the third film of the Riddick trilogy, it is far more entertaining due to the fact that it knows how outrageously stupid it is, and the entire cast seem to be very much in on the joke!

From its ridiculous opening sequence involving Samuel L. Jackson and footballer Neymar Jr. (!), to Vin’s first scene where he skis through a mountainside forest and then skateboards down mountainside roads with the sole reason to let the people of his village watch a football match, director D.J. Caruso sets the tone from the start: this film is not going to make sense!

However, if entered with the right expectations, then XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is a perfectly enjoyable experience, and it also makes it incredibly difficult to review; it is, by all rational definitions, a terrible film, but despite this it is actually tremendous fun, and a contender for guilty pleasure of the year! Though of course a film that also stars thespian Vin and lots cars may give that a high-octane race for that title!

There is indeed not very much else that can be said about this film in terms of its laughably incoherent plot, but on an aesthetic note, the action sequence are absolutely bonkers, and though it is occasionally almost impossible to see who is shooting or fighting who (in the clean, particularly blood-less 12a violence), but we of course know that our man Vin is in control and at the ready to deliver a particularly cringe inducing one-liner that puts even Arnie in his 80s prime to shame! It is all about delivery Vin, and you still seem to have absolutely no understanding of that concept!

However, for all of Vin Diesel’s lack of screen charisma (though if you are the producer I suppose you don’t really need it!), the rest of the cast are all thoroughly enjoying themselves and are certainly in on the joke! After his quite serious performance in Rogue One in which he was probably the most memorable character (apart from a droid) Donny Yen right royally enjoys himself and is certainly a charismatic screen presence. While the rest of the cast (that seems to cover most racial stereotypes) are all great fun to watch, even if they (or indeed us) do not actually know what side they one.

Meanwhile Toni Collette’s character as a humourless Government bigwig shows that the filmmakers do potentially understand the concept of a visual metaphor; her furious chewing of gum as if her life depended on it is a perfect depiction of how she also chews the scenery in a classic ‘just give me the bloody cheque’ performance, she really looks like she does not want to be there and hates every word of dialogue that she is saying.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is a film with a never-ending plethora of things wrong with it, but it not only knows it, it actually unashamedly embraces this fact, and for that reason, (and of course Vin Diesel’s cringe-worthy stoicism) is undeniably entertaining nonsense.

A film that is hard to sum up in words, but the title and the name of the leading actor almost mean the film provides its own review/warning (delete as applicable); XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is a simultaneous migraine-inducing, but also poignant, reminder of both what we all love and hate about 21st century cinema.

5/10 (Though that isn’t particularly relevant!)

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
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