Review – xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

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xxx-return-of-xander-cage-585835b00b202To give you a little insight to what I’m going through as I’m writing this review, I saw this movie two weeks ago, and I’m having trouble remembering the plot…so it’s already not looking good for xXx: Return of Xander Cage. That being said, I’ve had every category and every detail reviewed when I saw it, so I’m sure I can drudge up everything I need to for the review, but I’ll have to do a little copy-paste for the plot. Sorry about that!

Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) comes out of self-imposed exile, thought to be long dead, and is set on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.  – IMDb.

Oh, that’s right. That’s why I can’t remember the plot, it’s not really about anything. What you have here is a bonafide MacGuffin, folks. You know, where the bad guys have a thing, a very bad thing – and the good guys have to get it back before something bad happens because of the bad thing. And better yet – it’s called Pandora’s Box. So, Xander Cage came out of retirement for a MacGuffin. I mean, it’s fine, I like the character way more than Ice Cube’s character, but couldn’t you have found a better means. The guy faked his death, and I consider this a trivial thing for him to come back for. So…before I get into the review and break it down, just know that this is mostly just a mindless action movie. Got it? Cool, let’s go.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 8/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1

Alright, so the one positive thing this film has, is some really cool and diverse characters. I feel like the casting in this film was probably the best out of the franchise, the characters were all very cool, important, and very memorable, I’m looking at you, Donnie Yen. This guy can’t stop being awesome. It falters, however, when it comes to the acting and chemistry. The acting is subpar and no one REALLY works well with anyone else. Like I said, it’s just a mindless action flick, but I definitely respect the casting and characters in this movie.

WRITING SCORE – 5/10
Dialogue – 1|Balanced – 2|Story – 0|Originality – 0|Interesting – 2

Next up, we’re going to talk about the writing in the film, which was lacking quite a bit, but where? Mostly in the story and originality sections. There just wasn’t anything there when it came to the story. A MacGuffin and a bunch of action and stuff. As for originality, there’s now three movies in this franchise, and they’re beginning to blend together. There’s just not enough that separates them. I still think it’s interesting enough, though, and as mindless as it is, it’s still a pretty balanced film. The dialogue, however, was mostly just forgettable.

BTS SCORE – 8/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 1|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1

We had more positives in this section, and it’s not hard to understand why. This is an action film, so a lot of work went into making things look really, really cool – and they do. Xander Cage is the ultimate xXx, he IS xXx, and he proves that again here with the visuals and stunts. The editing was done rather well, given it HAS to be done well to focus on everything that’s happening during these stunts, and of course, it was as advertised. Nothing really stands out as far as directing is considered, and the music is mostly just typical but forgettable.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1

This kind of ties into the whole “balance” thing I said earlier, where yes…it is a mindless action film, but it’s also easy to understand what’s going on. A big part of that was the narrative arc, which this film stays pretty true too. In the beginning – introduction – you learn about Pandora’s Box and how bad it is, meaning only one man can stop it – Inciting Incident – which is Xander Cage, and he teams up with a new crew that really compliments him, and they go through their trials and tribulations – Obstacles – to get to where they’re heading before the big end scene – climax- happens. It does have a falling action, but it’s short but interesting.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 4/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience IN – 1

As for how entertaining it was? Truthfully, this was a movie where I kinda got bored at times, even though the whole film is littered with action. This is because it’s mindless action, without any real substance. So while I consider this a definite fun movie when it needs to be, it only sometimes sucks the audience in, rather than every time. I would rewatch it if the right circumstances were in place, but I don’t really see myself looking for it specifically. I won’t be buying it, and I won’t be really talking to anybody about it, either.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 40/50
Action – 10|Vin Diesel – 5|Practical Effects – 5|Fits in Universe – 10|Halfway Decent – 10

Finally, the specialty questions that are written before watching the movie. First of all, this is an action film first and foremost – how was the action? Very cool. I’m not sure the stunts matched up to what they were in the original, though, as the original film was almost all practical effects, while this was probably half practical, half visual. As for Vin Diesel’s filmography, I’ve definitely seen better, but I’ve also seen worse, so…I wanted to know if it fitted with the universe of the series, and without a doubt it does. The one that doesn’t really is State of the Union. Finally, is it halfway decent? While it could use some help here and there, I ultimately consider this a yes.

RATING – 74/100

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