xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

May 25, 2017

I remember seeing the original xXx film 15 years ago. It was a bit of silly fun from what I remembered. I had very low expectations for this third film in the series, and the film has surprised me by being worse than my low expectations.

For an action film, I was bored for large chunks of the film. The action is cut and sliced into such short, bursty chunks that the movie should come with an epilepsy warning. The action is unwatchable and the talents of action stars Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa are largely lost because of it. American directors and editors need to learn that action is more impactful if it is not sliced and diced; and shot so close up. Pull the camera back, let the stunt people do their jobs and cut sparingly to let the audience get a sense of the action.

Vin Diesel, who looks great in the film is pushing 50 years old. He must know this and (as a producer) surrounds himself with younger actors. Unfortunately, after these younglings get cute Guy Ritchie Snatch-type introduction cards, their characters become fodder for the boring action sequences.

The "twist" for the antagonist of the film can be seen when the film opens and is not a surprise when it happens near the end of the film. The other twist of the film is so inane that by the time there is a reveal, I rolled my eyes at the cliche.

There are three things in the film that made me smile. First, Samuel L. Jackson, the man can do no wrong. His presence was good. Second, Donnie Yen. Not only can the man fight, but he has charisma to spare. It was great to see him in another American film -- though, he deserves so much better. And third, Ice Cube because: Thank God the gangsta's back. Unfortunately, these three things cannot redeem a terrible script, some wooden acting and some long chaotic sequences that the director D.J. Caruso thought he could pass off as exciting action sequences.

I would write a synopsis of the plot which includes a device that can be used by villains to crash satellites or eavesdrop on civilians, but in the end none of that matters.

The premise of the original film in which a government agency recruits extreme sports athletes sustained it for one film, I was surprised they tried to do a second film which largely failed. But really, after 15 years, Xander Cage should have stayed home and not returned. Enjoy some retirement Xander and spare us the audience from a bad movie.


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