xXx: Return of Xander Cage

                         review by Bobby Blakey

There is no denying Vin Diesel’s presence in the action genre after revitalizing the Fast and Furious franchise. Now he has been returning to some of his other franchises previously with Riddick and now xXx. When the first film hit theaters in 2002 everyone thought it was going to be another franchise, but the follow up in 2005 xXx: State of the Union put Ice Cube in the lead with Diesel’s Cage said to be dead. Now he is back for an all-new entry in the franchise with xXx: Return of Xander Cage, but will it offer up some new life into this thought dead franchise or will it not be able to go the extreme?

xXx: Return of Xander Cage follows Xander Cage who is thought dead but comes out of hiding to return to action for a new, tough assignment with an all–new team and not sure who he can trust. Besides Diesel this latest entry features a great cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose, Toni Collette, Michale Bisping, and Deepika Padukone as well as martial arts icons Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. I was never a big fan of the original film and while the second entry isn’t much better, my love of Ice Cube made me much prefer it. Going into this entry I have to admit the only real interest I had in it was the inclusion of Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. This time around they lived way more up to the extreme aspect of the idea with some insanely over the top action that borders on unbelievable, but in the most entertaining way possible.

The cast are all a lot of fun creating the perfect groups to face off with each other and keep the action going way more than the previous films. Diesel is pretty much the same this time around, but fits the character perfectly and jumps right in like he never left. Yen is given way more to do than I expected and does a great job across the board. Tony Jaa is given some fun moments, but not as many as I was hoping for, but enough to still make me happy to see him in action in this film. The rest of the cast do their jobs with Nina Dobrev offering up the most entertaining and surprising role of the whole film. She is geek and a bit dirty in a way that you cannot help but smile every time she is on screen. Collette who is typically really great is playing up the cheese like some kind of 70s Bond villain throughout that is hit and miss depending on how you look at it. 

Where this film really delivers is the action. As I was watching some of the opening I realized I was seeing almost all the stuff from the trailer and feared we wouldn’t get much else, but thankfully I was wrong. There are not only a ton of great stunts, but also some great fight sequences that let Yen shine and even get to see Jaa get in on the action a few times. Just about every person in the cast gets their moment to shine making this a real ensemble actioner. Sure it is highly unbelievable at times but as mentioned before watch it with a 70s Bond vibe slapped in the middle of extreme sports action and you will surely have a blast.

This is a movie made for a specific audience and while you don’t have to see the first two films in the series you really should to get the full effect of what this film puts together. Could this be another huge franchise like Fast and Furious with this entry? I hope so because they have crafted it exactly the same way with this entry already better than the first two and a cast of characters that would be great to see on screen together in the future.

In addition to the film this release also includes bonus features including a gag reel and numerous featurettes that take you further behind the making of this film. Grab your copy of xXx: Return of Xander Cage available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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