xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

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January, January, January. We’ve been expecting you. Sometimes it feels more like it was expecting us. We’re about to walk into its lair where it’s just waiting to unload trap after trap on us. I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. I didn’t like the first xXx movie from 2002, and I didn’t see the second movie, so I’m absolutely baffled by the fact that it’s a trilogy. Why is this a trilogy? Well, it is, and there’s nothing I can do about it, so let’s talk about xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is directed by D.J. Caruso and stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, and Samuel L. Jackson. Oh, and Tony Gonzalez is in this movie, too. Yes, Tony Gonzalez the retired tight end, not Tony Gonzalez the actor. Tony Gonzalez the actor does not exist. Anyways, in this movie, Xander Cage is back, and this time he is asked to recover Pandora’s Box, a box used to control every single military satellite in space. It’s being used for acts of terrorism, but Xander Cage must get it into the right hands and uncover conspiracies.

Let’s get the positives out of the way. First, Donnie Yen. Second, the very little time Samuel L. Jackson spends on the screen. Alright, positives. Move out of the way so that we can get to the negatives. My biggest negative with this movie is the screenplay. This screenplay felt like a bunch of 75-year-old Hollywood executives decided to write a script for high school kids. They said, “We really have something here! The kids sure are going to like this!” There are so many lines in this film that sound like the kind of lines you would hear if you were walking around a local high school. None of them worked, none of them clicked, and they all started to get annoying after a very short time. Next, this movie takes itself way too seriously. As a January action movie, this should have been very similar to last year’s Mechanic: Resurrection. Mechanic: Resurrection was cliché, over-the-top, had terrible one liners, and didn’t have a single second that I could take seriously. The thing is, you weren’t supposed to take it seriously. This movie thinks that we should be taking it seriously, and there is way too much dialogue with exposition explaining things I just didn’t care about. It became boring and annoying, and it was never able to find that zone of self-awareness that would have been perfect for a January action film.

The funniest part of this movie is that it seriously thought it was good. It put Vin Diesel on a very high pedestal and thought it was the next awesome action movie. I like Vin Diesel. I’m actually a huge fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. I think Vin Diesel makes fun action movies that even hit my emotions in the right way sometimes. No person on Earth is as cool as this movie made Vin Diesel out to be. It almost makes him unlikable. Every single action he performs and every single line is either a bad one liner or a response to someone who thinks he’s the most attractive human to ever live. It also thinks it’s good enough to stand on its own and build a franchise. An entire team is introduced in this movie, almost in the same way a team has been established in the Fast and Furious franchise. I can picture studio executives and the crew on this movie laughing with joy at the thought that they had gold, but really, they just had a bad, annoying, January action movie.

Overall, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is just a typical January action movie that thinks it’s a whole lot better than it actually is. It thinks it’s building a franchise with a strong start and a deep character leading a great team when it actually has an overly serious, terribly written screenplay that becomes annoying. I didn’t even have fun with this movie because it couldn’t have fun with itself. It has too many scenes with dialogue and exposition that doesn’t matter to anybody and sounds like dialogue the writers picked up over a lunch conversation at a local high school. Donnie Yen was the only one who demonstrated the ability to give us quality action scenes. The rest of the movie is a standard January action flick that thinks it’s the next Fast and Furious franchise builder. I’m going to give xXx: Return of Xander Cage a 2.5/10.

Will you be checking out xXx: Return of Xander Cage? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! It’s January which means that there are plenty of movies ahead, so I’m going to suggest holding off on this one and saving your ticket money for different film. I never want to say that you won’t like a movie, so if you liked it, let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]