xXx: Return of Xander Cage Strikes Out Amid Trite Mediocrity

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is aptly named, as it starts with three strikes against it. First, it is a sequel to an action movie series that no one has cared about in over 10 years. xXx: State of the Union came out in 2005, and xXx, the first one with Vin Diesel was released in 2002. Second, Diesel already has a wildly successful action movie franchise in which he performs outrageous and unbelievable stunts. It’s called The Fast and the Furious series. If an action movie with an ensemble cast of actors and musicians is the goal, then seven of these movies already exist and they are all better than this one. Third, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not the good kind of January movie. It wasn’t shown at a film festival last summer with a wide release now. This movie is the bad kind of January movie. It was released in January because it doesn’t have the draw of a summer blockbuster or the potential for any awards like Oscar-bait movies in fall or winter.  xXx: Return of Xander Cage is filled with almost every single action movie trope in the book.

Diesel plays walking cliché Xander Cage in the third installment of the xXx series. The xXx program is a government-run task force composed of the most extreme people on earth. Cage used to be an extreme sports athlete until he was recruited by the agency to save the world a first time. After he completed his first mission, he faked his death and went into hiding until the beginning of  xXx: Return of Xander Cage. In classic action movie fashion, a new terrorist group threatens the safety of the world. The group of four terrorists, Xiang (Donnie Yen), Serena Unger (Deepika Padukone), Hawk (Michael Bisping), and Talon (Tony Jaa) has stolen a device known as Pandora’s Box. This device, naturally enough, is treated as ignorantly as most technology is treated in action movies. “It can hack into anything!” and “This device has the capability to kill lots of people if it falls into the wrong hands!” are among its vaguely outlined powers. The terrorist group is using the device to cause satellites to crash into targeted areas and kill people. Cage and his team, Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann), and Nicks (Kris Wu), are reluctantly recruited to stop them. Basically it’s a Fast and Furious movie with fewer cars and a worse plot.




xXx: Return of Xander Cage
has many faults. Its greatest fault, however, is simple mediocrity. The movie does not innovate in the slightest. Action movies do not always have to be the same generic thing that a lot of them are. There are ways to make them good. This movie does practically none of them. The plot is uninspired and unoriginal. The dialogue is cliched and cringe-inducing, full of “jokes” and catchphrases. Some of the acting is outrageously bad for a movie of this size. xXx: Return of Xander Cage feels like a bad episode of 24.

That being said, there are bright spots. Diesel plays himself, which is always fairly enjoyable. Some of the side characters are actually pretty fun to watch. McCann’s character, Torch, is pretty hilarious at times, the main reason probably being that he is played by McCann. Jaa doesn’t seem to know he is in a movie, and yet he fits incredibly well into this one. But, the shining star, the magnum opus of xXx: Return of Xander Cage, is Yen. Yen is a Chinese actor who has recently been getting more and more work in American movies. He was one of the best parts of Rogue One, and he is easily the best part of this movie. He is actually trained in martial arts, so his fight scenes are very enjoyable, instead of being cut to oblivion because the actor needs a stunt double. He’s a great actor when he is trying to be, and there are a few moments where his ability shines through.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not a good movie and, with the exception of Yen, adds nothing to the franchise. There are bright spots to be had, but this movie should not have been made. Everything this movie does right, Fast and Furious does better. Hopefully Paramount Pictures doesn’t make eight of these movies too.

Featured Image By Paramount Pictures

About Jacob Schick 174 Articles
Jacob is the Head Arts Editor for The Heights. He is from Winter Park, Florida and he is currently trying to watch every movie in existence (he’s pretty close). You can follow him on Twitter @schick_jacob or email him at [email protected]