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'xXx: Return of Xander Cage' Review: Vin Diesel's Latest Is Very Fast, Very Furious and Totally Insane

by John Boone 11:45 AM PST, January 20, 2017
Photo: Paramount Pictures

The success or failure of a Vin Diesel movie is pretty easy to determine, as they often offer up their mission statement flat-out, often in a trailer-worthy soundbite. In the case of xXx: Return of Xander Cage, it is: "Kick some ass, get the girl, and try to look dope while you're do it."

The latest xXx installment also marks Diesel's titular return, having stepped away from the franchise after his first go-around in 2002. As for what happened in that one... you certainly don't need to know to follow this one. Cage, who can "walk into a tornado and come out the other side like it was a damn gentle breeze," has been lured back to the NSA's super spy task force in order to stop an all-powerful McGuffin called Pandora's Box.

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Photo: Paramount Pictures

Return of Xander Cage isn't an adrenaline rush, it is a Red Bull rush -- that is, probably garbage, but it'll get you to the same place. And it's so fun while it lasts! Which is exactly what you expect from Diesel's range of films. You're either getting xXx or Fast & Furious, or you're going to get... The Pacifier? (Love The Pacifier.)

The aforementioned ass kicking starts no more than 30 seconds in and continues through what has to be the most insanely, stupidly wonderful motorcycle surfing scene you have ever seen and straight on until the credits. Diesel (and, quite frankly, everyone else) speaks exclusively in one-liners, as he spouts off all those poetically masculine lines he thinks make him sound dope. Like, "The world is big, but can fit in your heart," which is not even the corniest line in a movie that, yes, in 2017, contains a "That's what she said" joke.

Then again, when you have Oscar-nominee Toni Collette (as an NSA suit with a permanent pout on her face and her eyes stuck mid-roll) delivering those lines, each is a gem!

We also get Cage's merry band of misfits: Orange Is the New Black's Ruby Rose as a sniper; (And an unabashed lesbian! Not the girl Cage ultimately gets! How often does that happen?); Rory McCann, better known as The Hound on Game of Thrones, who... crashes things; And Chinese actor-rapper Kris Wu, whose special skill on the team is literally that he's a good DJ.

If that all sounds more like a bad Mission: Impossible movie, you're not wrong, but maybe a bad version of M:I is actually a good movie, since the downfall of that franchise is how darn seriously it takes itself. By its end, Return of Xander Cage also works to seemingly converge the xXx flicks with the Fast & Furious franchise, until eventually they will be indistinct from one another. Or they merge into a super franchise, which you think should be impossible -- or I just gave someone a billion dollar idea.

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