Vin Diesel Donnie Yen Toni Collette Samuel L. Jackson
Deepika Padukone Kris Wu Ruby Rose Tony Jaa Nina Dobrev Ice Cube
My impression: That this film was made purely to highlight its special effects and bring a videogame look to film—not that others haven’t had that purpose before. So if this is your thing, you will love xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Story is secondary to the legendary (and unreal) acumen of Xander (Diesel), whom everyone thought was dead, but was only in hiding. The CIA searches him out, and recruits him to retrieve Pandora’s Box, a deadly weapon they had in their hands until a band of phenomenal intruders literally snatched it away from Jane Marke (Collette), a CIA higher-up.
But first, we get a treat of seeing Xander doing incredible athletic stunts to establish his credibility as not only an unbelievable athlete, but a patriotic, conscionable citizen--and lover--as well. (He brings television broadcasts to soccer fans in Central America.) He is against “men in suits” and a champion of the people.
After Jane Marke recruits him, Xander is unbelievably quick in bringing her the information she needs by being an “undercover agent.” (The sexual and macho symbols are replete throughout the film, meant to please the 15-40 year-old male viewers.) Now the fun begins as Pandora’s Box, the ultimate deadly weapon, is located as being in the hands of two people in the Philippines, Xiang (Yen) and his partner Serena (Padukone).
Marke introduces Xander to his retrieval “team”, all males, who are completely unacceptable to him. He dispatches them immediately as pussies, and brings his own people on—both men and women with special skills. Marke is cagey, and although complaining, she allows him to lead his own team in the assault on the couple in the Philippines who have Pandora’s Box. They are Xiang (Yen) and his partner Serena (Padukone) who have a fleet of amazing fighters of their own.
Xander puts his people in place, and they make an assault amidst a party. (Sex and violence are a must in this film). What follows are a crafty shake-up, as well as the identification of the real villains. Changing alliances and the representation of noble motivations give this film a little more quality beyond the technical achievements.
D. J. Caruso’s film shows how government agencies can be corrupt and self-serving, but it does not suggest any viable alternatives. Well, perhaps the final scenes with Pandora’s Box does.
A love letter to Vin Diesel and his phenomenal abilities.