Reel Geek Review- XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage

The first XXX movie with Vin Diesel was very much a product of it’s time, that early 2000’s extreme sports, rap-metal and Mountain Dew fueled adrenaline rush of cheesy action.   They attempted to do a second movie, with Ice Cube taking over as the lead, while killing off Vin Diesel’s character offscreen in a dvd extra short film, but box office killed the franchise after that movie.  Until now, and it seems that, much like Riddick, we’re going to see them attempt to bring this franchise back the only way they know how to, bring back Xander Cage.

It’s established early on in this movie that he faked his death, (because that’s what people do in these type of movies) and has spent the past 15 years criss-crossing the globe, presumably falling for local women and then leaving them with a skateboard with his, and the franchise’s logo on it as a going away present.

He’s called back into action by government agent Jane Marke (Toni Collette) to stop a terrorist group led by Xiang (Donnie Yen- Rogue One) who have stolen a device called ‘Pandora’s Box’, which can control satellites to crash down out of the sky on requested targets.  He’s set up with a team of highly trained soldiers to accompany him, but they don’t suit his style, so he lets them go, out of a back of a plane, and sets up his own team.  This team includes sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose-Orange Is The New Black), stunt driver Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann-Game Of Thrones) , and  Nicks (Kris Wu) , who’s handy with a camera as he is with martial arts skills.

After getting geared up by the team’s new tech handler Becky Clearridge (Nina Dobrev-Vampire Diaries), they soon  find out that Xiang and his crew, including other martial arts legend Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) are actually agents of the XXX program trained by his old mentor Augustus Gibbs (Samuel L Jackson) , and that they were actually being set up.  From here on in it’s an adreneline fueled crazy action movie that normally would be released in the summer time.

I guess the studio didn’t have a lot of faith in the movie after the last one and they sent this one to the graveyard of January, which normally is when you’ll get a lot of the worst that Hollywood has to offer, Resident Evil sequels and such.  Which, I’m sure actually that a lot of critics will put this movie into that category, as it’s dumb, loud, and doesn’t always follow logic.  But then again, I’m not most critics.  I can see a movie on it’s own merits, and am not going to compare all movies on the same scale.  This movie, while dumb, is dumb intentionally,and it knows what it is, and has fun with it, which is all I want in a movie really.   It’s all about “saving the world, getting the girl, and looking dope while doing it”, to quote Samuel L Jackson from this movie.

The cast knows what type of movie this is and has fun with it, and we get some great action scenes with Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen, two of the greatest martial artists in Hollywood today.   The script by F. Scott Frazier moves at a brisk pace,  as does the movie, introducing the characters quickly, and you know just enough about them via the freeze frame info cards ala Suicide Squad that that’s all you need to know about them to have fun with this movie.  We even get a great Ice Cube cameo tying in both movies in the franchise so far, and it sets up for a hopeful sequel, which should be a lot of fun as well. In the end XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is flawed, but a lot of fun, and I was not bored the entire movie.  It’s a fun, weekend matinee type movie, and if you’re a fan of Vin Diesel in general you’ll like this movie.

Final Grade- B

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