xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review – Franchise Fred Approves

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

(L-R) Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, Toni Collette as Jane Marke, Ruby Rose as Adele Yusef, Nina Dobrev as Rebecca Clearidge, Deepika Padukone as Serena Unger, and Tony Gonzalez as Paul Donovan in xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

xXx began as Vin Diesel’s answer to James Bond. Now it is his Mission: Impossible. Looks like the Fast and the Furious movies taught him well about the value of teamwork and family.

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage has an even more irreverent tone than the original. xXx glorified extreme sports and said F U to the man, but Return of Xander Cage has time for high fives and full on hero worship during gratuitous action scenes. It’s fun to see Xander Cage treated as a folk hero (remember, it’s only his second movie). Xander and other characters look right into camera. The camera always pulls back to reveal their scene partner, but you know they’re really breaking the fourth wall. Xander’s even bored with some of the action scenes, which is a great way to show that xXx is above the usual genre formula. 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Ruby Rose as Adele Wolfe in xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

Some franchises forget who their characters are, sometimes after decades, sometimes after only a few years. xXx: Return of Xander Cage remembers who Xander Cage is. He still doesn’t drink, orders his signature nonalcoholic cocktail and even blatantly fakes it when the bad guys buy him a drink. He still remembers to say his big catch phrases, because some things are sacred. Diesel adds some new, even dorky colors by goofing around at action movie cliches like “don’t move.” He is magnificent. He listens remotely to his sniper Adele Wolfe (Ruby Rose) without even wearing an earpiece, because this movie is so awesome they don’t even need to bother with standard action movie technology. 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Toni Collette as Jane Marke in xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

 

Since xXx was a total star vehicle for Vin Diesel, it is a refreshing change of pace to see so much attention given to his team. They get a great recruiting montage. Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa are of course true martial artists and get a chance to show their skills. Nina Dobrev totally embraces the “she wears glasses so she’s a dork” cliche while being a blatant flirt. Ruby Rose is my new favorite badass. Toni Collette is great as Tilda Swinton.

Between xXx: Return of Xander Cage and John Wick 2, 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for action franchises. We’ve still got The Fate of the Furious and Boyka: Undisputed on the home front.