Spies on Skateboards – xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Trying to pick a franchise back up twelve years after the fact.  So everybody’s favorite extreme spy is back, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel).  He has been laying low all of these years, but he is pulled back into the game when his former boss (Samuel L. Jackson) ends up dead.  It looks like somebody has the technology to crash satellites at will with a small electronic device, and it is up to him and his extreme team to recover the device and save the day.  Now I will issue out a disclaimer in that I have not seen either of the first two movies.  I know that the first xXx was about as 90’s as you can be, despite coming out in 2002.  I mean really, what is more 90’s than crossing James Bond with the X Games?  Even without any background to the series, I can tell you that this sequel didn’t just miss the boat, it got the date of departure completely wrong.

1Please direct me to somebody who was asking for this.

Now even though Vin Diesel’s stock is running pretty high with the ongoing success of the Fast and the Furious franchise, he can only do so much.  To his credit, he does look like he is having a good time, and for the majority of this, he has this big goofy smile on his face, playing it more for laughs than any of the Fast and the Furious movies.  The only other positive thing I really have to say is that the action is shot somewhat decently.  D.J. Caruso is a competent enough director, and there are a few action set pieces here where I could tell what was going on, and it wasn’t filmed too tightly.  That is where my praise stops, and this is just too ridiculous for its own good.  For starters, this crew that Xander gets together is preposterous.  They all get these Suicide Squad introduction cards, and that is a trope that is quickly becoming more and more tired by the month.  In addition to that, it is never clear why they are chosen in the first place.  Sure, I get why you recruit a sniper, but he enlists a person who is known for crashing vehicles and a D.J….  Yeah, I don’t know.

2There is also a motorcycle chase sequence in the ocean.

This movie makes the Fast and the Furious stories seem down to Earth, and nobody walks away from this looking good.  It even manages to make good actors seem amateurish, like Toni Collette.  The script is really bad, and I’m having a really hard time believing that somebody read this and said, “Yes, THIS is going to be the movie to reinvigorate the franchise”.  I guess if you really have the hots for Vin Diesel, you might get something out of this, but for everybody else, it’s a skip.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) **

– Critic for Hire

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