XXX: Return of Xander Cage
Directed By: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Ice Cube
XXX: Return of Xander Cage sees Vin Diesel return to the franchise after opting out of 2005’s XXX: State of the Union, in which his character, this movie’s titular Xander Cage, is said to have died. We quickly find out that’s not the case, and Diesel’s Cage is once again brought into the world of extreme sports/spying, this time to keep seemingly unstoppable weapon out of the hands of terrorists.
This is your basic action movie, thrown into a blender, and saddled on poor Vin Diesel’s shoulders all to cash in on the actor’s ever-growing status and bankability. The plot is so thin you can see through it, and none of the characters evoke any kind of sympathy. Nina Dobrev plays a glasses-wearing nerd girl who spends most of her time fangirling over Cage and the motley crew of misfits he brings in to help him out. Ruby Rose basically plays the same person she always does: a smart-mouthed, I’m-too-cool-for-this, wannabe bad ass who ultimately comes off as trying too hard to look like she’s not trying too hard. Toni Collette is Cage’s new handler, after Jackson’s Gibbons is seemingly eliminated in the opening sequence, and she spends most of her time wandering around chewing on scenery. Ice Cube reprises his role from State of the Union, though his appearance, like Jackson’s, is little more than a glorified cameo. Deepika Padukone and Donnie Yen, naturally, play the terrorists, a pair of disillusioned former XXX agents bent on vague revenge, though only one of them is a true believer.
Normally I can forgive a lazy, thinly-plotted movie if the acting and effects are decent, but both seem to have been sleepwalked through. Most of the performances are completely phoned in, including Diesel’s, and the effects are too run-of-the-mill to be impressive, which at least the first XXX movie had a couple of (at the time) somewhat impressive sequences. It’s very evident that everyone involved in this movie was looking for a quick paycheck, and didn’t actually care about the type and/or quality of movie they were making, which ultimately makes a bad movie even worse.
You really shouldn’t invest any money in attempting to watch this. It’s not worth it. A boring, predictable mess whose value is limited to something to watch when you need background noise and don’t care how you achieve it.
You can stream this free with your Amazon Prime and Hulu accounts, and it can also be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service.