Return of Xander Cage a step too far

Monday January 23, 2017 Written by Published in Entertainment
The cast of xXx: Return of Xander Cage which is now screening at the Empire Cinema. 17012930 The cast of xXx: Return of Xander Cage which is now screening at the Empire Cinema. 17012930

HOLLYWOOD is establishing a trend for casting a diverse range of actors in most of its money-spinning franchises.


In Fast and Furious, Jurassic Park, Star Wars and others, filmmakers seemed to have found a perfect formula to get the cash registers ringing by roping in multinational casts.

This is a clever move as it improves the reach of the movie, making it more marketable, globally.

Given the outrageously gigantic budgets sucked up by movies nowadays, the aim is to reach the whole world rather than the more limited traditional audiences.

For instance, cast an Asian actor in some hugely popular franchise, and the result is bound to create a phenomenon. The Fast and Furious franchise is a perfect example.

When Korean actor Sung Kang came onboard The Fast and Furious, the franchise became even more popular in most of the Asian countries.

In India, the recently released xXx: Return of Xander Cage reportedly collected US$4.2 million in paid previews over two-and-a-half days after its January 13 opening.

This is considered one of the biggest openings in India ever for a Hollywood movie.

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who made her Hollywood debut in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, was the driving force behind this early success.

But while a well-chosen range of actors certainly helps a movie’s international box office fortunes, there is still need for a great story and characters to make the most out of the assembled cast.

Unfortunately, Vin Diesel’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage doesn’t seem to have all of these attributes. Missing in particular is a fresh story.

It does have some insane stunts which are enthralling at first, but later become monotonous and even a bit ridiculous.  

The movie is about the return of extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel).

Cage, long thought dead, is recruited by the CIA to battle villain Xiang (Donnie Yen) to recover a powerful weapon known as Pandora’s Box.

The Pandora’s Box which can control military satellites has already killed NSA (National Security Agency) agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson), an old friend of Cage.

Cage recruits a team of death-defying partners to take on Xiang and his group but later learns their real enemy is the ones they are fighting for.

They should have left Xander Cage dead after the second movie in the series, featuring Ice Cube in the lead role, bombed badly at the box office.

The initial xXx which was released in 2002 and featured Diesel, was an instant hit because the concept of a rebellious athlete-turned-reluctant spy was new.

It was a new type of James Bond movie. One which found its own market with some extreme onscreen performances.

But after the sequel, State of the Union, released in 2005, failed miserably, xXx: Return of Xander Cage was probably not the best idea.

It will appeal the hardcore xXx fans, and if you are up for some mindless action, including motorbike stunts, and hogwash dialogue, then you are in for a treat.

The cast is superb but the story needs more depth. The Return of Xander Cage presents some hot action at the start, but loses its steam to an overcooked plot.

As they say, too much of anything is bad, and that certainly applies to this franchise.

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