PLAYMAKER
The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Saturday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
By Tom Clift
January 21, 2017
  shares

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Dumb fun at its finest.
By Tom Clift
January 21, 2017
  shares

15 years after the original, and 12 years after the first sequel, is anyone really clamouring for a third xXx? Probably not, but then again, there was also a time where nobody was all that interested in a new Fast and the Furious movie either, and now it's one of the most popular film series' in the world. xXx: Return of Xander Cage has a lot in common with the recent films in the automotive franchise, beyond the chrome dome and cocky attitude of their shared leading man. In an age where so many Hollywood action flicks are bogged down by pomposity and existential angst, these Vin Diesel vehicles offer dumb fun at its absolute finest.

The major difference between the two franchises is that, while the Fast and Furious films play fast and loose with the laws of physics, Return of Xander Cage scarcely bothers with them at all. In reintroducing extreme athlete turn super spy Xander Cage (Diesel) by having him ski – yes, ski – through a Dominican rainforest, director D.J. Caruso and screenwriter F. Scott Frazier make it abundantly clear they have little interest in telling a story set in the real world. Frankly, that's fine by us. This isn't Jackie, damnit, this is xXx!  It's hard to imagine anyone in the audience will actually care why a cabal of super crims want to steal a piece of hardware capable of turning satellites into projectiles. The important thing is that Cage is out to stop them, and he's going to look dope while he does it.

Diesel is joined by an outstanding set of supporting players, each sexier and seemingly less suited to the world of international espionage than the last. Hong Kong and Thai martial art stars Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa, Bollywood icon Deepika Padukone, and Australia's own Ruby Rose are just a few of the names on the roster – and while their roles are thin and their dialogue often painfully cheesy, the cast never seems anything less than 100 per cent committed. The same can also be said for Toni Collette as a tough-as-nails CIA handler. Nothing the character does makes a modicum of sense, but we'll be damned if Collette doesn't make her entertaining to watch.

If nothing else, Return of Xander Cage deserves considerable credit for the diversity of its cast. It's hard to think of a recent ensemble blockbuster that featured fewer white men – and while part of that probably has to do with the involvement of Chinese investors behind the scenes, it also fits in nicely with the film's political throughline. There's no flag waving here – indeed, an attempt by the CIA to appeal to our hero's sense of patriotism is met with a quip: "there are no more patriots, just rebels and tyrants." Outsiders all, Cage and his fellow daredevils have no time for authority, or the overreach of a system that puts security before civil liberty. And while it's a stretch to call the film a reaction to a Trump presidency, his ascension makes the film's rebellious spirit and multicultural flavour that much more appealing.

Having said that, no one is buying a ticket to the new xXx movie to get a hot take on global politics. They're buying it to see things go boom – and go boom they certainly do. Caruso and co. deliver big time on the action, crafting set-pieces that (mostly) manage to toe the line between knowingly silly and genuinely exhilarating. It's hard to think too hard about the gaping holes in the plot when Vin Diesel is riding a motorbike underwater. And who said cinema was dead?

  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS

NEARBY PLACES

  • List
  • Map

SIMILAR EVENTS

  • List
  • Map

NEARBY EVENTS

  • List
  • Map
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter