XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE – A Review by Gadi Elkon

The third chapter in the ridiculously over-the-top xXx series blasts into theaters the same day as Donald John Trump becomes our President.  With this in mind click through for my full review of DJ Caruso's helming of the latest Xander Cage tale.

One of the actually enjoyable elements of xXx: Return of Xander Cage is the funny Rory McCann and his demolition loving character Tennyson Torch.  Rory steals every scene he is in just as his character of the Hound does in GoT.  But minus this funny portrayal of TT the crazed accident lover xXX: Return of Xander Cage is really annoyingly bad.  The action is cheesy and so over-the-top it's not even visually enjoyable.  Take for instance motorcycle water skiing!

The cast itself is filled with a lot of talented folks.  Samuel L. Jackson returns (if only briefly) as Augustus Gibbons and brings some much needed tongue-in-cheek fourth wall breaking moments.  Toni Collette seems to relish her turn as tricky Jane Marke.  Donnie Yen's exceptional marital arts skills are on full display and matched by the funky style of Tony Jaa.  Nina Dobrev brainy Becky Clearidge delivers some of the only witty (slightly disturbing) dialog.  But our muscle bound lead is really the most annoying to watch.  Granted his physicality certainly brings to mind AR-Nold in his prime and his super cheesy one-liners are direct Schwarzenegger style rips that don't seem to pack the punch of Arnold's trademark lines.  Overall Vin Diesel may make a lot of $$$ but he is by far the worst part of the film.  Nonetheless the fun locales visited in the film and the non-stop pacing allows for the film to flow nicely enough.  But I'm done talking about this terrible film that surely will be #1 in the box office.  Instead here is a plea, please go see anything else in theaters this weekend.  Wait for xXx to make it to Amazon Firestick so you don't have to waste your hard earned money on a shitty IMAX experience.  The opening IMAX countdown had more in your face IMAX worthy experience and once again showcases how the medium seems to be more of a money ploy than a visually moving experience.  What the hell happened to IMAX in your face films?  I really can't wait until a director figures out how to actually use it correctly.

So here is what I want to do instead.  Here are other films the actors in this one are in that you should be able to find on Firestick, Netflick, Roku or where ever else you find your movie and TV material!

Lets start with Director DJ Caruso.  He has made some forgettable stuff but his origins seem to harp to quality TV.  He's directed four episodes of THE SHIELD.  There is something to the fact that each XXX film has had a different director.  Rich Wilkes characters are intriguing figures but the first film's fun attitude is just replicated and made redundant with these two follow up sequels.  Caruso's DP is another story.

Russell Carpenter is most famous for his work on Titanic, but his take in the early 90's also shows he knows action really well.  He was the DP for Hard Target (one of Van Damme's more enjoyable flicks) and True Lies (easily Arnold's most humor filled film outside of Kindergarten Cop).  Overall Russell is a legit DP that has been stuck doing some bad films and XXX is one of those sadly.  I'd love to see him take on something different since he obviously has legit chops and even has WONDER YEARS on his resume (quality!).

Donnie Yen's career has some awesome films that all make the martial arts in XXX seem as childish as they appear.  Catch up on any of his many films.  Al Sapienza's evil turn as a the rogue CIA Director is hugely under used.  Al's tremendous TV credits showcase his many years of playing quality gangsters, cops and bad guys.  He's a fun figure in the film industry that deserved a few more lines then the crap he got in this film.  At least cut out the entire freeway sequence to give Al and his bad guys more screen time.

Lastly I'll mention the usage of real athletes in films.  I'm not against it at all, hell Wilt Chamberlain in Conan the Barbarian is one of the lost gems of athletes in films.  But Tony Gonzalez being punked by Vin seems a bit annoying.  Michael Bisping is actually physically right for his take as Hawk and his real life persona matches a nice career in film.  The Brit who holds the UFC Middleweight Title should do more work.  Now beloved Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar should look somewhere else for his outside fun.  He does get to share a fun opening sequence with Sam Jackson, but jeez he just seems like another terrible $ ploy to put folks in seats.

Overall, go see any of the quality golden globe winners or potential Oscar worthy films rather than spend any stupid amount of IMAX money on this trash.  You can see the stupid jokes in the comfort of your home.  Wait for Fast & The Furious 25 to come out instead. 

DEAR PARAMOUNT PICTURES – IS THIS REALLY THE BEST USAGE OF YOUR MONEY!?!?!!?

I'll end with a fun feature on Nina playing geeky tech Becky because it's the only thing that was slightly enjoyable in the many youtube videos put out by Paramount to support this terrible film.

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