xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

If you have seen my Top 10 Anticipated Movies  of 2017 here, you will realize that I don’t have a lot of popular choices but at least the beginning of the year is mostly fun sequels. Does that mean they are bad? I actually embrace movies that are in the cheesy and so bad its awesome category, embrace fun and action filled movies and from what I remember of xXx. That is exactlt what I would expect from this third one especially since Vin Diesel reprises his role as Xander Cage and his on screen presence is just simply awesome. Full transparency, I have seen xXx two times. The review is HERE. However, I have not seen the sequel with Ice Cube. Whether you call it a reboot or a sequel, I’m just excited to see Vin Diesel jump back into this role. I’m going to lie if after fifteen years, Xander Cage can still be revived without any disappointments but with the cast they have, its hard to not be impressed and excited.

Let’s check it out!

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxx the return of xander cage

Director: DJ Caruso

Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Toni Collette, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Tony Jaa, Michael Bisping, Samuel L Jackson

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. – Rotten Tomatoes

For those who haven’t seen the first xXx, you honestly don’t really  need to know much about it. The Return of Xander Cage, other than Xander Cage and the one appearance of his fluffy coat that shows up and super little tidbits on Samuel L. Jackson recruiting another agent in a restaurant (when he recruited Xander Cage from a diner), there really isn’t much crossover. That in itself, is good. One thing to remember going into xXx is that you don’t go into this for a strong storyline. I will talk about the storyline and what criticisms a serious movie goer may have with it (because I am fully aware of its flaws). With all that said, I had a great time watching xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. As much as it sounds like this movie is right up my alley, I like xXx but I’m not a die hard fan. However, this one was fun and thrilling (and probably my fave of the franchise thus far). The stunts were great because Xander Cage is a daredevil who loves risky and daring stunts. It has an amazing cast which gave it so much personality and charm and of course, action. Not to mention, despite having an unpopular sequel without Vin Diesel but replaced by Ice Cube as Darius Stone, they never forget that he was also part of the franchise.

xXx The Return of Xander Cage

Right from the opening scenes, I already knew this is my sort of movie because its fun. The style of introducing its characters and fun facts was humorous to give us an idea who this person is and fills in on people who didn’t watch the two movie before that was over ten years ago. There was a lot of upbeat music that meshed with the scene especially giving it more reason when the dj of the group, Nicks (Kris Wu) joins in the xXx team. They also go through a lot of locations and its really beautiful. All this is aside from the fun dialogue we get which reflects who these characters are. Before we jump into the characters, I said I would talk about storyline and its flaws. Much like you could point out all the flaws in the last few Fast and Furious franchise, they probably also apply here. Be it a storyline that is pretty linear or plot twists that are rather predictable or even over the top things like submerging a motorcycle underwater and it still works after it resurfaces. The storyline is only a means of everything they can pull off, be it stunts or guns or encounters.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

xXx characters aren’t exactly deep, but calling them shallow makes me feel kind of bad also. However, they aren’t meant to be wildly constructed, just like its storyline. It really isn’t the point. These are agents and it wasn’t meant to have unnecessary drama (which might be one of the criticisms I remember having for one of The Expendable films, maybe the second one). We know the basics of their competency and the witty, quirky or completely eccentric personalities. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is the man here who has a lot of personality and he has built a great team. Donnie Yen plays Xiang, who has a fantastic entrance showing off his great martial arts skills and what starts off as a rickety role turns out to be a really fun time as we learn more about who he is. Toni Collette pulls off a stern vibe in the high leader or government somebody perhaps. Her role is a little odd at times but it is to offset or at least is there for Xander to be recruited and challenge the authority. Xander Cage’s team is the more highlighted factor here and aside from him and Donnie Yen, breathe an incredible amount of life, character and charm.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Ruby Rose plays Adele Wolff, a sharp shooter who has masters her sniper skills with a lot of calm and fun attitude. Nina Dobrev plays Becky, the tech support and pretty much the brains of the operations who is scared of pretty much everything outside and she has a massive fan girl moments with Xander that is hilarious and says really awkward and random things. Its also nice to see that there’s more to her career than The Vampire Diaries (especially because I do like TVD). We’ve already talked about the casual fun-time Nicks who is the showstopper or perhaps the person who causes the distraction but he is well-matched with Tennyson, played by Rory McCann, who is a stunt driver always looking for his next crash. They make a hilarious duo. On the other hand, Xiang’s team consists of some competent players as well although they don’t get as much of attention. The pretty lady with lots of combat skills is Serena, played by Deepika Padukone. Along with her and Xiang are Talon, played by Tony Jaa, an odd character that does weird things to say the least (which I like his fighting skills but not so much the character or maybe the limited acting) and Hawk, played by Michael Bisping, who I assumed was some sort of MMA/UFC fighter in real life and turns out he is (because I don’t follow these things so I had to look it up). The deal with having lots of characters in not a long runtime is that not everyone gets the screen time they need but it also gives the audience a good idea, if there was a sequel who might be the returning team.

Overall, you don’t go to xXx for an award-winning life-changing movie experience, you go into this movie to just have fun and be entertained and maybe shut off your brain for a little while. Have a few laughs, watch some great stunts and awesome fight sequences, listen to some cheesy one-liners and bask in the badassery that these characters and Xander Cage’s team is all about. Sure, it might seem a little Fast and the Furious franchise with the bad ass team and over the top sequences or maybe its a little The Expendables, with the whole “retired” agent coming back to action or whatever you’d like to call it just with a younger cast, but The Return of Xander Cage has its own personality. Whether the revival of this franchise works or not, this is an awesome addition to the franchise and captures the right tone and adds lots of style to it. It delivered everything I expected and more. Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose was enough for me to love it so much. Everyone else meshing well with the movie just made it even better.

Have you seen xXx: The Return of Xander Cage?

Ten Anticipated Movies of 2017!

2017 is here! I’m sorry for the tardiness of posting up the 2017 outlook post. I’m working on that and just settling on a few little decisions that I haven’t made up my mind on but that should be up tomorrow. However, in the mean time, I feel super late talking about my list of anticipated movies of 2017 and this post is going up later than usual also but its the holiday and I’m taking it easy.

Before we jump into the list, please note, this is preliminary and usually doesn’t include any indie movies because I usually don’t catch on to those until very close to release date or a ton of you have talked about it or Fantasia. Or I’m too busy with Netflix movies to look too much into it.

And you’d like to check out anticipated games of 2017, you can find that over at That Moment In HERE! I’m not doing a separate post talking about this so I figured I’ll just give it a mention here in case it interests you. This post is a collaboration with my Game Warp co-host but our choices are pretty similar with just a few exceptions.

Without further delay, here is my ten anticipated movies of 2017 in the order of release (according to Cinema Montreal site).

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
(January 20)

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
(January 27)

Beauty and the Beast
(March 17)

The Fate of the Furious
(April 14)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2
(May 5)

Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

Alien: Covenant
(May 19)

Wonder Woman
(June 2)

Spiderman: The Homecoming
(July 7)

Jumanji
(July 28)

No trailer yet…

Superheroes, sequels and remakes is what this year’s anticipated movies for me is all about. It kind of makes it seem like a little scary because we all know how these things can just really go completely wrong. While a lot of people are done with Resident Evil or just haven’t really liked it from the beginning, I’ve liked it a lot for the “so bad its awesome” factor. I like the action and the over the top and everything that is wrong with it. I’m super excited for Beauty and the Beast and actually my girl friends are pretty much decided to go see that one. Hopefully everything will work out. The wildcard in this list goes to Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 which is a French-Canadian film that had a huge following back in 2006 for its first film. I have no idea how it took ten years or eleven at the time of release to get it out but I’m pretty stoked about it.

And now for some honorable mentions and other titles that has me intrigued but a little skeptical.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Logan
  • Power Rangers
  • Pitch Perfect 3
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • IT

Intrigued but Unsure:

  • Monster Trucks
  • Before I Fall
  • The Space Between Us
  • World War Z 2

What movies are you anticipating in 2017?

Netflix A-Z: xXx (2002)

I cannot believe that Vin Diesel is back for the next xXx movie in 2017. I just can’t. To be fully transparent, I have seen this movie before and its not a new discovery but the other choice was the sequel and I figured, if I was going to do this then I might as well look at the first one again and I don’t really remember much other than Vin Diesel’s furry coat.  The second one is going to be reviewed in the next week or so. We’re nearing the end of the Netflix A-Z and I’m working hard to finish up this second round, take a little break to reassess the schedule and set the next one which might have a little twist to it.  Regardless, I love xXx and Vin Diesel and its an interesting discovery that I watched a lot of his movies around the time this one was released and that this was after The Fast and the Furious and you all know how much I love that franchise to death! 🙂

Let’s check it out!

xXx (2002)

xXx

Director: Rob Cohen

Cast: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Roof, Richy Muller, Werner Daehn

An extreme sports athlete, Xander Cage, is recruited by the government on a special mission.-IMDB

xXx is a action spy thriller.  Its weird to say that Vin Diesel is in a “thriller”.  Its not that I don’t love Vin Diesel because I do however he does have a style to him and a sort of movie that he sticks a lot to and those films don’t normally align with how I describe a thriller. However, xXx is a thriller because Vin Diesel plays as Xander Cage and he is sent in to spy on a mob in Czech Republic and gather some intel.  However, he does get caught up in more than he should. xXx is definitely not a movie you should nitpick mostly because if you look too closely, there are a thousand plotholes all over it but it doesn’t stop the fact that its a downright fun movie to watch.  Except you also know what to expect with something like this or maybe its just because watching it ten plus years later, we know what to expect more and it is also this reason I feel like I enjoyed this movie more now than when I first saw it when it first came out.

xXx 2002

 xXx is a super fun movie because of Xander Cage. I mean, Vin Diesel captures these sort of roles in a fantastic way. It adds a bit of humor with his expressions and one liners.  There’s a bit of bantering with Samuel L. Jackson, who is also a plus in this movie even if his role isn’t that big.  Then, there’s his absolute manliness that I love to talk about with all his extreme stunts and all the crazy stuff he plays regardless of how absurd it is.  After the whole Fast and Furious franchise, these stunts are kind of not a big deal.  However, he does still get to drive some hot cars and show off.  Still, Xander Cage reflects a lot of some outstanding qualities and just his braveness to enter and deal with any situation makes it entertaining. Most of the cast here isn’t quite known to me even after so many years and they all don’t do such a great job in their roles, maybe a slight bit of overacting, but when they are working in that same scene as Vin Diesel, it brings a different vibe, a much more enjoyable one.

xxx 2002

If you asked me what I didn’t like about xXx, I really wouldn’t be able to pinpoint it  I think even in its overacting bits and a rather apparent and predictable storyline offering nothing new to the table, its still not enough for me to say that I didn’t have fun with it.  Vin Diesel is the best part but Samuel L. Jackson also boosts up the movie a little.  Asia Argento plays as the female lead and she’s alright even if I’m not a huge fan of her acting.  Its a very generic lady role she has in this. The villain and his crew was hilarious mostly because they had such horrible acting and tried so hard to be the bad guy and their expressions just made want to laugh at them. Maybe that is a bad thing but there are some cases, it is just pure fun because maybe that is what they were aiming to do.

xxx

Overall, I’m starting to grasp at nothing now. xXx isn’t a movie to dive too deep in thinking about.  I like it because of Vin Diesel and the character Xander Cage.  Its kind of like liking Dominic Toretto in Fast and Furious franchise. Xander Cage, while being against the government, still has a lot of valuable traits.  Plus, Vin Diesel being in a spy thriller is aiming to do something different here. Maybe inject it with more action and stunts and not be so serious all the time like thrillers usually are.  I don’t think they quite hit that target.  The story was rather generic but it was still a fun time.

On an ending note, it is what makes me hesitate to see the second one because there’s not Vin Diesel.  At least there’s Scott Speedman, right? 😉

Have you seen xXx?