Bad meets good in ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Directed by D.J. Caruso

The beauty of the terrible action franchise is that you normally don’t need to see the set-up to watch the sequels. Speaking for someone who didn’t see the Vin Diesel-led “xXx” in 2002 or “xXx: State of the Union,” the 2005 sequel starring Ice Cube, I can say unequivocally that “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is probably just as fun without the prior knowledge.

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From what I gathered, Xander Cage (Diesel) went off the grid and pretended to be dead after his first movie. I don’t know what made people believe he was dead, but obviously it was something. I know that a very powerful, weaponable machine has been stolen from the CIA, and they decided that their off-the-books xXx program seemed the best option for getting it back without the press catching wind that it’s gone missing. Jane Marke (Toni Collette), the director of the program, finds Xander and asks him to put a team together. Eventually, his rag-tag handful of skilled fighters includes Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose) and Xiang (Donnie Yen), plus others whose names you’ll forget anyway. Together, they take a globe-trotting mission to retrieve the dangerous weapon.

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Caught up? Vin Diesel, God love him, is a horrible actor. Let’s just get that out there. But he doesn’t seem to care, the directors don’t seem to care, and the audiences don’t seem to care. I don’t care. His movies are on par with his talent. Awful by all accounts, but still likable for some reason. Nobody hates Vin Diesel, right? He’s just cool. But despite the movie being named after his character, I can’t help but think Vin Diesel is the worst part of “Return of Xander Cage.” Thankfully he’s not alone. Boy am I thankful Donnie Yen is making more American movies, even if they’re not all great. I love seeing him on the big screen. In his typical fashion, he puts on a show. Fists, guns, jumping. I literally could watch him kick bad guy ass all day. And every dude movie could use more Ruby Rose. Sure she’s pigeon-holed into badass roles, but I’m pretty sure she’s just that badass.

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“xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is just frickin’ cool. It’s campy as hell, appallingly written, and a pretty standard rehash of so many other movies just like it. But when you go to the theaters to see a Vin Diesel movie, you wanna see bad guys get their teeth knocked in. To see it happen in zero-gravity, or by using a dirt bike tire, or with a fun cameo holding a grenade launcher, is just icing on the cake. “xXx” is the best kind of bad movie.

6.5/10

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