He should have stayed dead.
Left for dead, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson).
Let’s be honest. You should know what to expect with Vin Diesel. I actually enjoyed the first xXx. It had the right balance of action, fun and stupidity perfectly crammed into 90 adrenaline-fuelled minutes.
But this latest offering was just ridiculous. And not in a good way.
The opening sequence didn’t give me high hopes. Had the writers even seen xXx? NOT even Samuel L Jackson could save the day. He delivered his usual shtick BUT he seemed to forget the character he was supposed to be playing.
I always remembered Augustus Gibbons as a real hardass. His “Have you ever watched lions in the zoo?” speech left goosebumps.
His fractious relationship with the deluded Cage was the movie’s unique selling point. BUT why did they turn him into this?
His scar mysteriously gone. Some stupid Harry Potter glasses and a cringe-inducing cameo with the Barcelona attacking midfielder Neymar Jr.
Neymar Jr looked genuinely confused as if he had stumbled on the set by mistake.
That was only the tip of the iceberg.
Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) did her best as Cage’s new handler Jane Marke BUT her pale complexion and stern demeanour did nothing to spark any life into this incredibly droll plot line.
Donnie Yen wasn’t in this enough. The force was not with him on this one. Thank God he delivered a scene stealing supporting turn in another sequel. He smiled and shrugged away as he threw one horribly CGI’d kick after another.
NOT even the enchanting Deepika Padukone could save the day. By 20 minutes, I was ready to switch off.
However, once the main man appeared. My grumbling subdued. Diesel did his thing. Leaping off 50 foot TV antennas and skateboarding off cars. Enjoying sun, sea and sex in a beautiful exotic location.
I have to admit this was the liveliest acting I’ve seen from the guy. Less gristle and mumble. It was just a shame that the banter and one liners just didn’t work.
Lapping up a rapper’s paradise with a ridiculous fluffy coat and dozens of ladies. James Bond on Red bull and adrenaline.
And they still managed to make that boring?
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) was incredibly annoying as the uber keen computer nerd Becky Clearidge. Ogling over Cage and chatting utter nonsense. Dreadful.
I couldn’t believe how surprisingly slow and drawn out this film felt. It didn’t help that the rag tag team of kn*bheads that Cage recruited were irritating.
The silly credits popping up with each member’s special party trick and unofficial Guinness world record attempts for achieving something completely stupid did NOT help.
The Wolf from Game of Thrones?! Oh how the mighty have fallen? A retarded conspiracy nut obsessed with Lockerbie? Really? Ruby Rose played on her bisexual vibe again. Seriously? Is that all she has?
Kris Wu’s character was woeful. His only ability appeared to be hijacking DJ booths and delivering “bangers” as a distraction. Yikes.
Vin Diesel was having fun and not giving a damn. BUT it felt like he gave his best in the wrong movie with the wrong character. Unintentionally comical and cringe-inducing.
By the hour marker, I conceded and accepted the stupidity. Some of the action sequences were actually quite watchable.
Rolling grenades while taking vodka shots? No. Motorcycle chases through a jungle rave? Surprisingly entertaining. Even if Cage was smacking opponents around with wheelie kicks.
That was until the bikes were miraculously equipped with water sleds to continue the pursuit across the river.
If you’re smiling at those quips then this might be for you.
The plot line was weak. Some mumbo jumbo about a Pandora’s box that can pull satellites out of the sky. Didn’t make sense. Didn’t care by the end. Got even worse when numerous xXX operatives crashed the party.
And yes, XXX 2 fans (Are there any?), there is a gratuitous cameo from one ice cold operative (Okay, confession time, I actually didn’t mind xXx: State of the Union. Say whaaattt).
The closing act was bearable as Cage and co. raced across gridlocked traffic to save the world. The mad highway punch up was a riot. Dancing around CGI’d cars and jumping across trucks. My God.
The laughable banter got better. If anything, it would have worked better if it was just Yen and Diesel. Rose and Padukone had their fiery bad ass moment in the finale BUT it wasn’t enough.
I can’t say I enjoyed it BUT it got more watchable as you accepted what it was. A mindless actioner that offered little BUT stupid moments.
I think it’s safe to say that franchise will be like its protagonist. Lost in the wilderness. Hopefully.