Bond on Steroids – Reviews of xXx: Return of Xander Cage Are In

The action genre is difficult to crack. At least when it comes to critical and commercial hits. Sometimes a raft of explosions, gun fights, chase scenes and hand-to-hand combat just doesn't cut it. So how does 2017's release of xXx: Return of Xander Cage hold up? Well, the franchise has been welcomed back with a short shoulder shrug of mediocrity. Far from a flop, sure, but not enough to leave them wanting more.

The Vin Diesel sequel follows on from 2002's xXx and the 2005 installment xXx: State of the Union. A sequel that replaced him in the lead with Ice Cube, seeing the 49-year old reprise the role he has left vacant for 12 long years. Thrown in with some fresh faces via Australian Rugby Rose from John Wick: Chapter 2 alongside compatriot Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone and Tony Jaa, the latest offering from Paramount Pictures has flattered to deceive prior to it's U.S. wider release on January 20, 2017.

Handy Popcorn Fodder Without Breaking Barriers

Ruby Rose in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Paul Byrnes from the Sydney Morning Herald provided an early insight. Outlining that the stunts were good enough, but from the talent on and off camera, he had hoped for more from a collection of quality filmmakers.

"You have to hand it to Vin Diesel," began Byrnes. "He has become a major star by limiting what he does to a narrow range, so that he can do it well." Pointing out his hefty work with Fast and Furious and Chronicles of Riddick, the reviewer argued that the busy schedule is enough to earn respect in this industry. "It may not be Hamlet but a man with three franchises has got something working. And it's true that most of the other musclemen are less interesting to watch."

Appreciating a certain limitation with the subject material, Byrnes spares Diesel and co. too much criticism.

"DJ Caruso is a better director than this material requires but then Diesel is a better actor than he lets on too," he remarked. "Together, they concentrate on lots of bang, stunts that are purposely unbelievable (far sillier than anything Bond would do) and sexy interludes with barely clad ladies who latch onto Cage like limpets, one for every muscle on those impossibly beefy tattooed arms."

"It's hilarious and harmless fun – unless you're a bad guy. Go Vinny!"

Tired Cliches, But It's A Ride If Not Taken Too Seriously

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian might not have been in the same movie theater halfway across the world in England. Yet a consensus seems to have been reached. The B-grade material is fun and light, just don't get too caught up on the screenplay or little details.

"Vin Diesel’s plump-necked, vest-wearing action hombre Xander XXX Cage has come lumbering back onto the big screen, delivering sleepy zingers in that growly laryngeal voice, for the first time since 2002," started Bradshaw. "Sadly, it’s the least anticipated franchise renewal imaginable. Only the release of a new Police Academy film could cause less excitement. But Vin, great ridiculous beefcake lunk that he is, does provide us with some fun."

Arguing that it is a dated concept that has been overtaken in the genre, even in Diesel's own career in other franchises, Bradshaw believes that a follow up could be improved.

"But actually, the early 90s is this film’s spiritual home, and for all its absurdity, you can’t really take offence at any of it," he concluded. "For XXX4, I’d prefer more non-weaponised combat and some more old-fashioned silly post-action punchlines."

Source: SMH, The Guardian

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