Review: XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 20 January 2017

Review: XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017)

Review: XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017)

In this third instalment of the XXX movie series, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is back in action to retrieve the "Pandora's Box" from Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his rogue crew. Instead of using the American soldiers recruited by CIA, Cage put together his own crew for the mission. This includes sharpshooter Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), driver Tennyson (Rory McCann) and deejay Nicks (Kris Wu).


REVIEW: Summer movie arrives way earlIer than usual this January with XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE. Like the first two XXX movies, this long-overdue third instalment displays the same "big, dumb and loud"-kind of B-movie entertainment. It was over-the-top as well, complete with lots of cringeworthy dialogues. It's hard to imagine Toni Collette in a heavy make-up saying cheesy words with a straight face like "We need someone who can walk into a tornado and come out the other side like it was a damned gentle breeze." If there's an Oscar for Best Cheesy Dialogue, screenwriter F. Scott Frazier really deserved to win that award.

Now, speaking of all things cheesy, XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE opens with a "what-the-f**k-did-I-just-watch" moment. In this particular scene, Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his role for the third time) trying to recruit Brazilian footballer Neymar (yes, that Neymar) while eating in a restaurant. The scene reminds me of how Augustus did the same thing to Vin Diesel's Xander Cage in the first movie. But at least the scene featured in that 2002 movie was more restrained, compared to this opening moment that feels more like a parody.

Review: XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017)

Frazier also aped the FAST & FURIOUS formula, in which Xander Cage (who is basically a tattooed outlaw version of Vin's own Dominic Toretto) assembles his own crew to complete a mission. Too bad the difference is, the overall plot here feels perfunctory.

The cast is a mixed bag. Although Vin Diesel is supposed to be the major star here, it was Donnie Yen who steals the show as the charismatic Xiang. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone is effective enough in her Hollywood debut as the movie's eye candy. Nina Dobrev, best known in TV's The Vampire Diaries, is suitably geeky as CIA tech expert Becky. Unfortunately, Tony Jaa is largely relegated to a thankless role. And so do the rest including Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Kris Wu.

Review: XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017)

As for the action, some of the death-defying extreme stunts are breathtaking. This includes a daring scene where Cage jumping off the transmission tower and skiing through the jungle, as well as a motorbike-on-the-water chase scene between Cage and Xiang. It was also nice to see Donnie Yen get to strut his stuff with his nifty martial arts skill and even his parkour moments. But for all the elaborate choreography, director D.J. Caruso and cinematographer Russell Carpenter sadly chose to shoot the action in a chaotic manner.

Like the first two XXX movies, it delivers the same guilty-pleasure entertainment but the cringe-inducing plot and hastily-shot action scenes made this a half-baked effort.

No comments: