XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE
Direction: DJ Caruso
Actors: Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Fifteen years after the original XXX gave Vin Diesel one of his early signature roles, he returns to topline the third installment of the long-dormant franchise (he sat out the 2005 sequel, in which he was replaced by Ice Cube).
The tattooed, muscle-bound actor reprises the role of an extreme-sports athlete. Summoned back from the jaws of death, as it were, he is called upon by a federal agent (Toni Collette, hamming it to the hilt) to prevent a nefarious adversary (Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen) from procuring a weapon of mass destruction, or some such thing.
Like the first two iterations …Return of Xander Cage is designed to play to Diesel’s strengths — macho posturing, high-throttle energy — pretty much to the exclusion of other considerations, including character and plot.
The film’s first hour is a misguided mess of montages and reams of exposition. The latter half, in which Cage and his band of mercenaries demonstrate their unwavering commitment to carnage, is marginally more tolerable. At least it’s apparent that Diesel hasn’t lost his action mojo. The daredevil stunts — skateboarding, jungle skiing, motorcycle surfing — are rendered with gusto.
You don’t have to be a soothsayer to predict the course of events or their outcome, however.
Marquee names like Ice Cube and Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr are cast in blink-and-you-miss-them cameos.
Samuel L Jackson is humourless as the foxy official in charge of the titular programme.
For viewers in India, the primary attraction, of course, is the casting of Deepika Padukone. Making her Hollywood debut, the Bollywood actress portrays a slinky adventuress who just wants to change the world for the better. Ha ha!
Whether delivering quips, gut-punches or mowing down the emissaries of evil, Ms Padukone is game for anything director DJ Caruso can imagine for her.
Check credibility at the ticket counter.
Watch the trailer for XXX: Return of Xander Cage here