XXX: Return of Xander Cage

XXX: Return of Xander Cage

I rarely turn off movies halfway through, but me and a group of my friends couldn’t take any more of ‘XXX: return of Xander Cage’ after about 30 minutes. Here’s why.

What’s it about?

Once upon a time in the early noughties, there was a movie about an extreme sports practitioner who got roped into being a spy for the NSA. That movie starred Vin Diesel, featured an excellent soundtrack with one of my favorite Rammstein songs ‘Feuer Frei’. It was called XXX.

Because franchises make da money, somebody decided a second XXX was a good idea. Unfortunately, Vin Diesel couldn’t make it so Ice Cube took over. That installment didn’t do so well. So, Hollywood returned to the franchise’s roots for this third XXX movie, and Vin Diesel returns as the titular Xander Cage.

The plot is simple: a group of hackers develops a box that can disrupt satellites, crashing them into cities. The box is stolen from the CIA by a crew of villains, and Xander – who tried to fake his own death and has been living on the run – is brought in to deal with the problem. He sets up a crew of his own and takes on the enemy.

… And that’s where we turned it off.

Vinny Bond

I like how Vin Diesel is a big D&D fan. I like that he fought for a third Riddick movie, and made The Last Witch Hunter. He’s apparently a nice guy in real life too.

However, he’s not the greatest actor there ever was. Xander Cage is like Riddick with a flippant sense of humor. Kaulder from the Last Witch Hunter is somewhere in between. Unfortunately, they’re all wanna-be James Bond characters who just don’t have what it takes.

I don’t know if it’s the writers or Diesel who add tired clich├ęs to try to make the main characters more manly. Kaulder has the fantasy equivalent of a Q arsenal and big manly sword. In the last Riddick movie, Vin Diesel sets his own broken leg, rides a flying motor cycle, and to top it off: he ‘converts’ a lesbian (I wish I was kidding).

XXX: return of Xander Cage is just as bad. Xander performs mindblowing stunts to bring a soccer match to his poor neighbours, has sex with random girls, and spots all the CIA agents trying to capture him with an ease and observational prowess not even Sherlock Holmes could master. We turned off the movie right after he saw his rich hacker friend Ainsley, who gave him a night of sex with her group of girlfriends.

The short of it: get over yourself. You want to be a real cool guy, Vin? Be cool, don’t rub it in our faces.

Puchlines in the teeth

One-liners are cool, if well timed and well delivered. If you stack them back to back, spice them with manly muscles and womanly curves, and add sassy remarks to them like gravy, you end up with a movie like XXX: return of yadayada.

In the first half hour we saw more tight t-shirts and flexing bicepses than in three other movies combined. It doesn’t make sense half of the time, either. Who the hell takes of their jacket in the middle of a gun fight and then uses it to slash people’s hands? Why does the CIA try to attack people using unarmed bikers? Why do you attack somebody driving at you with a bike by somersaulting them out of their seat? And so on, and so forth.

Xander Cage keeps sassing everybody, smiling condescendingly as he quips about how much cooler he is than special forces troops. Samuel L Jackson adds some one-liners for kicks, and it gets worse from there

Part of this is of course the meat and bones of the XXX franchise, but this was just too much and too hamfisted. Or maybe I’m just growing old.

Conclusion

Some movies are so bad they’re funny. Some movies are just plain bad.

Honestly, I can’t tell you if it’s better than the first XXX, because I fell asleep while watching that one. Actually, it’s the only movie during which I ever fell asleep. Maybe that should have been a warning sign for the franchise.

Anyway, go watch something better. Most anything will do.

Author: Martin Stellinga

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands