xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (USA/12A/107mins)
Directed by D.J. Caruso. Starring Vin Diesel, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Roby Rose, Nina Dobrev.
THE PLOT: Long believed to be dead, former xXx agent Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) comes out of retirement when a powerful weapon known as Pandora’s Box is stolen from the CIA.
THE VERDICT: Fifteen years after he last played Xander Cage – the character did not appear in 2005’s ‘xXx: State of the Union’, Vin Diesel returns to kick some ass and save the world, in a deeply flawed, loud and dumb action flick.
As mentioned Vin Diesel returns to the role he last played in 2002, making Xander Cage a tough, rebellious character who is prone to a quip before saving the day. The rest of the cast features Ruby Rose, Samuel L. Jackson, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev and Toni Collette, who only just about manages to make the expository and clichéd dialogue her character is given work. The rest of the cast labour under stereotypical roles, with the women coming out particularly badly; Dobrev’s character manages to introduce herself by telling Xander Cage her safe word, and it’s all downhill from there.
Scott Frazier’s screenplay focuses squarely on the action sequences, with the storyline – something about crashing satellites and double crosses – coming resolutely second. The characters in the film are given little chance to come across as real people, and the women in the film are little more that objects of desire, even as they kick ass, they manage to look sexualised as they do it. The dialogue is cheesy and cliché, and the story often defies logic in order to make Cage look just that little bit better and more badass.
Director D.J. Caruso obviously relishes the action sequences in the film, which are mostly well-realised and corny dialogue aside, a bit of brainless fun, but he gives his actors little chance to round their characters out and make them anything more than one dimensional. There is definite feel of misogyny about the whole film, as lingering camera shots down women’s bodies, overly sexualised costumes and love scenes that arrive out of nowhere make sure that women are objectified and discarded as soon as the film has no use for them.
In all,’ xXx: The Return of Xander Cage’ is a film for the fans of the franchise. If, however, you like your action movies big, dumb and loud, and your women completely objectified, then this is the movie for you.
RATING: 1/5
Review by Brogen Hayes