Saturday, January 21, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017): Review

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I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun the new xXx movies was. I am a fan of the original and don't really care one way or the other for the second, so going into this movie I was excited but not sure if it would be any good. I really enjoyed this movie and if you are able to suspend any expectations for realistic plot or action sequences you will really enjoy this movie as well.  I have been looking forward to seeing the Return of Xander Cage since I first saw the trailer for it. I was in the theatres ready to watch another action movie last year, in a crowd that consisted of a lot of 15-22 year old guys. When the trailer started, I remember thinking, this seems like xXx and then it became a xXx movie trailer which I got really excited for but all the kids around me didn't seem get the reference. I didn't care  that others weren't as exited and I wanted to see this movie when it came out.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage follows after its previous movies xXx (2002) and xXx: State of the Union (2005) as if the xXx program has still been going strong with Gibbons, played by Samuel L. Jackson, continuing to recruit extreme athletes and people to become a different breed of agents who can do the jobs that others cant. You do not need to really know much about the previous movies to follow this one except the basic concept, but the references would be easier to understand if you had seen the previous movies. At the beginning of the movie we discover that there is a device that can hack satellites and cause them to crash as if they were a bomb.  The NSA lead by Marke, played by Toni Collette, retrieve this device but then it is stolen by a team of extraordinary people consisting of Xiang, played by Donnie Yen; Serena, played by Deepika Padukone; Talon, played by Tony Ja; and Hawk, played by Michael Bisping.  Because these are a rebel team that can do crazy stunts Marke pulls in the original xXx Xander Cage, played by Vin Diesel, who isn't rally dead back in to retrieve the device. He brings in his own team consisting of Wolff, played by Ruby Rose; Nicks, played by Kris Wu; and Tennyson Torch, played by Rory McCann. Also involved are the social awkward tech girl Becky, played by Nina Dobrev, and soldeier "I don't need these weirdos to get the job done" Donovan, played by Tony Gonzalez.

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There are lots of characters in this movie and where I would normally not like that as it gums up the works, I don't really mind it here. As it is basically three groups (the thief team, the xXx team, and the government team), and character development doesn't matter at all. The supporting characters (and really all of the characters) are just about who they are and what they do, the basic description of their skills separates them. Vin Diesel is really the star and focus of the movie with a bunch of stuff happening around him so he can be "dope" (and I don't know why but that term just sounds old and dated to me, do kids still say dope?). There is just enough plot and conflict to keep the movie going and the plot is weak and predictable. Nothing happened that was really surprising but it was fun to watch and kept going.  The action sequences were not too long or drawn out and the scenarios were different from each other. They were unrealistic but different.

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With the large group of characters there were going to be some that didn't work for me and I was surprised that it was mainly Toni Collette. I don't understand why she didn't do more with this character as she is in general a very good actress but here she was wooden and appeared to be trying to hard to just be blank. She doesn't pull this off and she is just bad. I think another actress would have been better in this role. I also didn't care for the character of Becky. Why do they keep putting in a character into movie who is not Hip and forces the awkwardness of what the producers want this character to be on us. I know she is there for comic relief, but in a movie where they drive motorcycles on the water and the main characters is know for his quips, do you really need a comic relief? that doesn't blend themselves in with the rest of the cast of characters. I think this person could have completely been removed from the movie and the few things she did could have been done by one of the others or make her naïve to the real world as opposed to forced socially awkward.

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I enjoy Vin Diesel in movies, but he is starting to get to the point where I view him with more nostalgia than believing he can actually do the things in this movie. To me it is set up more as a young mans role with all the over the top action and situations (come on, a person with his frame doing that skiing through the jungle and skateboarding down a mountain path) and I think he needs to transition into more of the mentor or worn down older man who still has to do this shit role. But it was fun to watch none-the-less.

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The CGI was only really, really bad during one sequence and that was the motorcycles in the ocean. The water looked really bad and fake and I mean really, really bad. Other than that, I wasn't distracted by the affects and as this movie goes for over the top anyway, making things look too big or fake goes along with the whole feel of the movie.

There were many things in this movie that were fun and I enjoyed that they put in. Although nothing was shocking it was still fun to watch and I recommend this movie to people who just want a good time. I especially enjoyed the big moment in the end sequence in the warehouse and I was one of the people showing my enthusiasm at this time.

My Rating: 3-

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1 comment:

  1. The movie was pretty different from the book. I'd definitely recommend it even if you didn't like the book. They did a great job keeping the heart and soul of the book, but made it more interesting for film. :)
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