xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Dave author picA xXx sequel doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in 2017. Then again, the original xXx – an attempt to weaponise extreme sports into a James Bond ripoff – didn’t make a whole lot of sense in 2002, either. The best bits of Return of Xander Cage work because they recognise this, amping up the ridiculousness – motorcycle surfing! Flying planes into falling satellites! – with tongue planted firmly in cheek. At its peak, this film is exactly the kind of dumb fun you’d expect, nay, demand from the third xXx movie.

As a whole experience, though, it’s somewhat disappointing. I’ll forgive the incoherent intricacies of the plot, where good guys are bad guys and no-one’s motivations make any sense, particularly when the supporting cast is stacked with the likes of Toni Collette, Donnie Yen and Deepika Padukone (new to me, but hopefully destined for Hollywood stardom).

But the midsection, lacking the budget for a big action setpiece, drags. And, frankly, Vin Diesel isn’t suited to the wise-cracking Bond-type. He’s your first girlfriend’s dad: he’s menacing at first and he could definitely beat you up, but while he’s ultimately endearing his dad jokes just never really land. Give me Schwarzenegger and we’ll talk.

2.5 stars

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