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Review: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel stars in Paramount Pictures' xXx: Return of Xander Cage

The third xXx movie is one that isn’t only offering up the Return of Xander Cage, it’s also offering something that will almost completely ensure financial success. I’m not talking about a great story, amazing action or anything like that. Those features can help sell it, but they won’t necessarily make it a hit. What I’m talking about here is more of a marketing tool that has been done before, but rarely like this in today’s films.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage reintroduces us to the character from the first film who disappeared for reasons that had more to do with the actor who portrayed him. While the reason why he really went MIA is irrelevant, they make it a point let us know what Xander’s been doing, why he left and why he’s being brought back into the program. On his first job back, he’s met with some tough opposition led by Xiang (Donnie Yen), the deadly antagonist with a complicated backstory of his own.

Although you may be going into a movie about an extreme sports enthusiast turned spy, The Return of Xander Cage turns out to be a cross of The Fast and The Furious (5,6 and 7) and The Avengers with a dash of Uncharted 3 (and maybe a scene from True Lies) sprinkled in near the end. For some, this could be seen as a cheap attempt at ripping successful properties off, but others may not take much of an issue with it.

This is clearly being done to extend the franchise and turn it into something that’s extremely profitable. You can also say that Vin Diesel is taking stuff from himself off here by using something that he’s been a part of as a model for this franchise’s potential earnings. After leaving the Fast and Furious series, he came back and became a part of something that lasted longer and got bigger than anyone could have expected.

Another thing that will surely assist in making this film successful is the appearance of Donnie Yen. Not only is he in the movie, but he has a far greater role than I originally figured he would. Before he even got on the screen, I knew this would be the case during the opening credits when I saw one of the studios behind it was a Chinese one. This is actually a highly intelligent move by Vin Diesel and everyone else behind getting this into theaters.

Bringing in someone as popular as Yen is in China virtually guarantees success in that market and gives them a level of access that most foreign based movies can only dream about there. In turn, this will allow them to make a ton of money and create multiple sequels on the back of this movie that might not get a great deal of hype over here in the United States. Adding Deepika Padukone and Tony Jaa also helps since she’s pretty big in India and he has quite the following in Thailand.

With all of this, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a calculated attempt to keep Vin Diesel’s career alive as the Fast and the Furious franchise will likely be coming to an end after the tenth entry. He doesn’t have anything else significant coming up that I’m aware of outside of maybe the smaller roles in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and he’s shown to have trouble selling movies outside of these two franchises. Doing it this way allows for him to carry a franchise without carrying a franchise.

As far as the movie itself, Return of Xander Cage is decent in terms of action and anything else you may expect from something like this. If you enjoyed the first one, this one will give you many of the same things that you viewed as positive. If you aren’t a fan of that original, you probably won’t be into this one much all that much. The only thing that might change your mind is the action if you like the Avengers style stuff that we have seem multiple times now.

Rating: PG-13

Director: D.J. Caruso

Cast:
Vin Diesel
Donnie Yen
Ruby Rose
Toni Collette
Samuel L. Jackson
Nina Dobrev
Tony Jaa
Deepika Padukone
Michael Bisping
Ice Cube

Film Length: 118 minutes

Release Date: January 20, 2017

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

  • Score - 6/10
    6/10
6/10
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