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xXx: Return of Xander Cage delivers with ridiculous but colorful action sequences

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is the third movie in the xXx franchise and focuses on Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming “back from the dead” as he takes part in one last mission to help return Pandora’s Box, a supercomputer that can control all the satellites in orbit, back to the U.S. government.

This film opens with the team of villains rushing into the government building holding all of the directors of the intelligence agents and stealing Pandora’s Box. After a few shots of extreme athleticism from the villains, the film cuts to Cage climbing up a TV tower in order to steal something at the top. He then rushes down in skis and a cruiser skateboard in order to evade police and bring a satellite link box back to the village he’s staying in so they could all watch the football game.

After this, Marke (Toni Collete) finds Cage and asks him to do one last mission after Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) is killed when a satellite falls out of the sky and explodes around the restaurant he was in. From there, the movie becomes a huge chain of one-liners and death-defying stunts, but in the best way possible.

When I saw the trailer for this movie last month, I thought “this is just going to be Fast and Furious, but instead of cars and racing, it’s all extreme sports and there’s a lot more jaw dropping,” and I was pretty much correct. Most of this movie is either people talking in one-liners to try to seem cool or ridiculous freerunning sequences with a bit of fighting in the middle.

If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be “ridiculous.” This movie is one of the corniest I’ve ever seen, but everything still kind of hit the right way. One scene in particular that perfectly exemplifies this is when Marke asks Cage to find the people who originally stole Pandora’s Box. Cage goes to see Ghosthunter in London, where he gets top-secret information, and when Marke asks how he figured it out so quickly, his response is “I did some undercover work.”

Those kinds of lines pop up throughout the entire movie, but they kind of work because you don’t expect anything else out of it. Return of Xander Cage almost exemplifies the “it’s so bad it’s good” action movie genre. However, the action and the cinematography were genuinely colorful and well paced, and that puts this movie above some less inspired action flicks.

When the first two action sequences include characters kicking someone off of a motorcycle and then riding it himself and other characters skiing down a jungle, the bar is set pretty high. Toward the middle of the movie, I found myself getting a little bit bored of the action because it wasn’t anything special anymore. By the end of the film, the characters bring it back and there are a few more absolutely jaw dropping action sequences.

On top of all of this, the characters, while not being well developed, were fun to watch on screen and they worked off each other really well. You could tell they all trusted each other (“X takes care of its own”) and they all knew what they were doing, except for one character who definitely comes into her own by the end of the movie. I wouldn’t say there are any facepalm moments, and I enjoyed watching it. And for those wondering, this movie passes the Bechdel test, and the female leads are really well executed characters.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is one of the more fun movies I’ve ever seen in my life and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in a senseless action movie with limited blood and gore. The dialogue was witty, the action was engaging and the movie as a whole was much better than I expected it to be.

Grade: B-

silverscreen@theeagleonline.com


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