Commentaries

Saturday, January 21, 2017

XXX THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE



IT'S A SILLY MOVIE

Film Review by Fiore 


xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE is a silly movie; fun, but silly.

To begin, this is a film that needed to be made for the sake of Vin Diesel’s career.  It seems if he’s not playing Cage, or in the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, no one cares to see him on the Silver Screen.  Anytime Diesel has strayed from these roles, his films nosedive at the box office.   Even his beloved RIDDICK character is not worth the cost of all the SFX needed for the films.  This is not a bad thing.  Many actors are lucky just to have one character attached to them.  No one will notice Daniel Craig, now that he’s done with James Bond; no one cares to see Johnny Depp if he’s not in pirate garb.  So, the fact Diesel has two and a half characters he can turn to for a massive payday is commendable.

Now the reason the film should not be made is because, in the story line, Diesel’s character dies in the beginning of the second movie.  You will recall Diesel thought his muscly butt was worth a lot more than the producers were offering him to return as Cage, and when they wouldn’t pay up, he bolted.  He was replaced by Ice Cube, who starred as Darius Stone, another agent in the XXX program.  So how does Xander return, and how do you deal with Cube, who took over the franchise?  Screenwriter F. Scott Frazier handles the storyline quite nicely, thank you, albeit in a rather comic book style.

Once he is found to be alive, the government XXX program, under the auspices of Augustus Gibbons, played again by Samuel L. Jackson, recruits Cage to stop a team of deadly assassins and terrorists from stealing a device that controls the nuclear missiles of the world.  Pretty standard action fare; but the opposing team features Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa, and that makes things so much more interesting.

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.   THE STEALING OF PANDORA’S BOX
2.   THE FIGHT ON THE AIRPLANE


When the first XXX film came out, one of the opening scenes featured an underground nightclub filled with raunchy heavy metal.  I really liked the music, and discovered the band was Rammstein.  I became a Rammstein fan, much to the chagrin of my other family members who, still to this day, do not appreciate the musical subtleties of the band.  There is no Rammstein in xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE.  Robert Lydecker and Brian Tyler fill the soundtrack with electronic superstar DJ music.  There is no way scratching turntables compares to the thundering guitars of Rammstein, so in this aspect, the soundtrack is a major disappointment.

The next dilemma is how to handle Diesel.  In the last episode of FAST AND FURIOUS, he had his ass kicked by Jason Statham.  How in the world could he hope to hold his own against Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa?  Director D.J. Caruso smartly twists the story so that, after their first confrontation, which Diesel loses, the two teams join forces and work together.  Very smart move. Yen fights the rest of the film, and Diesel does his extreme stunts.  Makes up for the music.

No one is fighting better on screen than Donnie Yen.  His fight scenes alone in xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE are worth the price of admission.  Jaa is being restrained by Hollywood.  I still think part of the problem not letting him burst forth is his difficulty with English.  (You see, kiddies, that whole ESL nonsense only works in high school.  Get into the real world and you best be able to communicate in America’s native tongue or you’ll just be a token.)

Naturally, one cannot make an action movie today without including women who are just as fearsome as their male counterparts.  It’s part of the Woman Warrior Agenda in Tinseltown.  In xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, we have Deepika Padukone as Serena Unger.  She is useless.  She throws around Navy Seals like a loafs of bread and its obvious she has neither the strength nor the technique to do so.  After one obligatory fight scene, they put a gun in her hands and let her shoot the rest of the way.  They should have cut out the fight scene.  It’s retarded.

Ruby Rose is used much better.  As Adele Wolff, she plays a sniper with an attitude.  She uses a nifty rifle, and doesn’t have to attempt to throw around 300 pound dudes.  Rounding out the cast are Kris Wu, Toni Collette and Tony Gonzales, who is currently a football analyst for one of the networks and former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Make no mistake, the primary reason d’etre for xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE is to boost Diesel’s ego.  He’s been hitting the gym and juice hard and augments his legend by disrobing at every opportunity and having a bevy of starlets ogle over him in nearly every scene.  Not even the devil, as played by Tom Ellis in TV’s LUCIFER, commands this type of sexual power.  

The other purpose is to introduce a new screen team Diesel can lead with Yen, Jaa and Cube attached.  Good move.  I can suffer Diesel’s sexual mythology to see Yen and Jaa fighting through the action.

Leave all credulity at the door, sprinkle your popcorn with a little Parmesan cheese, get ready to scream at the screen, and enjoy xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE.






THE GRADE FOR xXx: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE = B-SCHLOCK




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