*NEW* xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE REVIEW *NEW*

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.

Really?

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.

2/5

LET’S BE COPS REVIEW

Lets-Be-Cops-poster

Let’s Be Cops! Let’s not . . .

Until I’ve finishing this review. Ah ha! Anyway . . .

Nick and Original Pilot Coach from New Girl decide to be cops leading to an OTT but highly watchable action comedy. That’s what you get!

Some of the better bits are in the trailers and I feared that there would be little in between. However, it was all down to the partnership and chemistry of Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr that allowed jokes that really should have been mediocre and ridiculous, quite entertaining. Certain jokes still fall flat on their backside. An initial joke in which Justin (Wayans Jr) tells a line of apprehended Russian mobsters to put their hands on their heads and body pop started off funny but went on too long. Facebook selfies with rifles. Silly but okay.

I guess it’s down to what mood you’re in. If you think the premise is ridiculous then do not bother. It’s get a whole lot crazier and a whole lot sillier. But if you’re up for that then bienvenue, wilkommen, welcome!

Most of the heavily advertised funny bits in the trailers were done in the first 20 minutes. Although funny, if you’ve been unlucky to see them numerous times it’s highly predictable. I’m worried that Johnson may be typecast into playing Nick now for the rest of his acting career. I hope I’m wrong. It works this time round even if his character is a little more demented. The guy practices knife combat training with a kid he met in the park. Crazy. His impulsive EBay purchase of an old police vehicle and combat education from YouTube videos was too scary a concept with this day and age.

The plot is hardly original. Two thirty year old slackers that are either frustrated with work (or not working at all) get given an opportunity to be somebody (well pretend to be somebody), inevitably leading to hi-jinks and upsetting the Russian mob. James D’Arcy (Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World) didn’t do too badly as the Russian psychopath. He had the acting conviction but not the body to pull it off. It was hard to be intimidated by his scrawny demeanour. But at the same time, with the tank sized henchmen at his disposal, does he need to bulk up?

The supporting cast certainly do help make this film work. An unrecognisable Keegan-Michael Key (Fargo) played the highly agitated and crazy drug peddler Pupa to perfection, delivering the gags where the pace seemed to dip. Nick (Johnson), I mean Ryan’s interpretation of waterboarding Pupa for information was hilarious. Natasha Leggero’s (Suburgatory) crazy cougar cameo wowewewow. For others, they may find her irritating and stupid but me . . . and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) oh my goodness.

Okay, I’ll stop. Wayans Jr and Dobrev play the inevitable couple subplot spiel as well as they can. But it’s still corny and predictable as hell. I was surprised to see Rob Riggle playing it straight faced for a change. Especially after his hilarious supporting turns in 22 Jump Street and Step Brothers. However, it works so much better. And Andy Garcia, where you been? Great to see him back in movies and poking fun at himself. Even if he plays it incredibly straight faced. I think he was the only person doing some proper “acting” acting.

Johnson and Wayans Jr work well together. Their characters will hardly top the action comedy duos of all time but they certainly help make this film more enjoyable than it should be for all its clichéd and OTT guff. They can make as many Lethal Weapon references as they want but Riggs and Murtaugh they ain’t. Wayans Jr was definitely the scene stealer for me. He does his father proud, following his style but is still able to put his own stamp on it. It’s corny, predictable, OTT but it’s not the worst way to kill 100 minutes and it delivered more laughs than I expected. However, the best cop com movie for me is still 22 Jump Street, which this one falls short of. But NOT BAD.

For me, it’s a 3/5.