xXx: Return of Xander Cage is loud, rambunctious fun.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage is loud, rambunctious fun.

xXx Return of Xander Cage movie review: Fuelled by Diesel, but Deepika’s a Vinner

xXx: Return of Xander Cage movie review: Vin Diesel leads Deepika Padukone, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and Ruby Rose into a silly, action-packed adventure. It isn’t particularly smart though.
By Rohan Naahar | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 09, 2017 06:51 PM IST

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Director - DJ Caruso
Cast - Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Kris Wu, Toni Collette, Samuel L Jackson
Rating - 3/5

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a different kind of beast. It’s one of those rare films – or rather, movies – that could very well draw whoops and cheers from certain audiences, and at the same time, it’s equally possible that it puts the rest to sleep.

Now, depending on the sort of moviegoer you are, you could either expect to leave the theatre deeply satisfied, a dumb smile plastered on your face, or you could leave waving your fist angrily in the air, rueing the day the thought of watching xXx: Return of Xander Cage ever crossed your mind, and cursing the person who convinced you into doing it.

Blame it on the hype, or blame it on Deepika Padukone; there’s no two ways about this, but we must all accept the fact that this film is not very intelligent. It’s loud, it’s rambunctious, there’s barely any real human interaction in it, in fact, for most of its almost-two-hour-duration, it’s epically goofy. But here’s the catch: It’s also the best possible version of the sort of film it could ever have hoped to be.

So where does that leave us? Shall we talk about the basic plot then?

Vin Diesel’s character, the extreme athlete-turned-spy-turned-smirking frowner Xander Cage is pulled out of retirement (and death?) because a new global threat has presented itself. Like every good heist movie (even though this isn’t a heist movie), at the centre of xXx is a team, put together in a flashy montage, and with the help of some convenient title cards (like Suicide Squad!), by Xander Cage himself. Each of these characters comes with their own set of skills, and the film does a solid job of balancing the action (which is without doubt the best thing about it), the quippy banter, and the quiet, character moments.

But - and this is going to please you all - Deepika Padukone’s character is given a surprisingly decent amount of screentime. Surprising because we’ve often been misled in the past (just ask Irrfan Khan).

Her character, who, for some odd reason, is called Serena Unger, is basically the only one who is given any backstory. On several occasions, she adds a much-needed spark to the proceedings, which sometimes – but not too often – almost threaten to topple under the sheer brute force of the action. In more good news, Deepika has excellent chemistry with Vin Diesel, who delivers a predictably magnetic, movie star performance. He is charming, in that trademark Vin Diesel manner, and fortunately, not as mopey as Dominic Toretto (his Fast & Furious character).

But in my opinion, it’s Donnie Yen who steals the film from under both their noses. This is the second film in a row, after December’s Rogue One, that he has managed to elevate considerably. And God knows this movie needed elevating.

The most accurate way to describe its tone, I have come to realise, is through its villain, who - and this is one of xXx’s biggest flaws – is a bit of a letdown. He’s one of those cybercriminals you see, the sort of mysterious figure so many films are resorting to these days. But here’s the thing. In any other movie, having a villain adept at ‘hacking’ and ‘computers’ would probably hint at a takeover of the CIA’s mainframes, or an infiltration into the privacy of innocent civilians. But not in xXx, no. In this movie, the villain’s modus operandi involves literally ‘dropping satellites’ on random locations.

Often, we ‘review’ films based not on what we see, but what we want to see. The idea of how a film is supposed to be (usually in our heads) gets in the way of what the director, the actors and the whole crew really, have actually put together. It’s a mistake that we all make, but then again, that doesn’t make it OK.

xXx is a great example of this. It was never meant to be anything more than what it is: An over-the-top action picture with a ridiculous plot and ‘fun’ characters – you know - the sort of harmless movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. All it wants to do – and the earnestness can usually be spotted from a mile away – is to provide some folks escapist fun. And that, it does. And because it has succeeded at what it wants to achieve, it must be appreciated. It’s the only logical choice that we have. Go figure.

Watch the trailer here

Follow @htshowbiz for more
The author tweets @RohanNaahar

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani recently helmed a segment called Apartment in the anthology web film, Unpaused.
Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani recently helmed a segment called Apartment in the anthology web film, Unpaused.

Nikkhil Advani: OTT platforms are not into chasing stars, that’s reassuring

By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:35 PM IST
While Nikkhil Advani believes that while OTTs are the need of the hour, there can never be a contest between theatres and the digital platforms.
Close
Actor Neetu Chandra has starred in films like Garam Masala (2005), Traffic Signal (2007) and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008)
Actor Neetu Chandra has starred in films like Garam Masala (2005), Traffic Signal (2007) and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008)

Neetu Chandra: This is just the beginning, I have just started and I am here to stay

By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:30 PM IST
Actor-producer Neetu Chandra says she has done a Greek film, she is doing a Korea TV series as well and has a few Hollywood films, and one of which is Never Back Down: Revolt, the fourth film in the Never Back Down franchise.
Close
After being kicked out of Bigg Boss 14 for pushing Arshi Khan into the swimming pool, Vikas Gupta re-entered the show.
After being kicked out of Bigg Boss 14 for pushing Arshi Khan into the swimming pool, Vikas Gupta re-entered the show.

Vikas Gupta's mother denies having personal conversation with Arshi Khan

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:21 PM IST
Bigg Boss 14 contestant Vikas Gupta's mother has denied having any personal conversation with Arshi Khan, who had claimed on the show that the two had talked before she entered the house.
Close
He has been shooting for Rashmi Rocket with Taapsee Pannu.
He has been shooting for Rashmi Rocket with Taapsee Pannu.

Priyanshu rallies for local Kutchi Artisans while on shoot for Rashmi Rocket

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:12 PM IST
While shooting, he realised that Rann of Kutch festival was called off due to COVID so he is planning to help the artisans and give them a much needed boost digitally.
Close
Elizabeth Olsen in a still from WandaVision.
Elizabeth Olsen in a still from WandaVision.

Jac Schaeffer interview: WandaVision creator on future of South Asians in MCU

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:05 PM IST
  • In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Jac Schaeffer, the creator of Marvel's WandaVision, speaks about the influences behind the show (beyond sitcoms), her sounding boards on set, and South Asian representation in the MCU. WandaVision streams on Disney+ Hotstar Premium in India.
Close
Film industry rejoice as the government allows relaxation on 50% seating capacity in cinema halls.
Film industry rejoice as the government allows relaxation on 50% seating capacity in cinema halls.

Film industry pin 100% hopes on crossing 50% mark

By Shreya Mukherjee, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:56 PM IST
As the new government guidelines allow seating capacity in theatres more than 50% occupancy, industry rejoices, release of big films expected.
Close
Actor Gul Panag was last seen in the web projects Pawan And Pooja and Paatal Lok.
Actor Gul Panag was last seen in the web projects Pawan And Pooja and Paatal Lok.

Gul Panag on biases in Bollywood: Everywhere it’s as fair or unfair as you want to see it

By Shreya Mukherjee, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:35 PM IST
Actor Gul Panag says biases exists in every profession but only those who have talent and are hardworking will be able to hold on to their ground.
Close
Cardi B has shared her review of The White Tiger.
Cardi B has shared her review of The White Tiger.

Cardi B praises Priyanka Chopra in The White Tiger: 'You was amazing'

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:14 PM IST
Cardi B has tweeted her review of Netflix's The White Tiger, which stars Priyanka Chopra in a supporting role. Cardi said she was left in tears after watching the film.
Close
Radhika says she want to offer her audiences something fresh and new and unpredictable in her performances.
Radhika says she want to offer her audiences something fresh and new and unpredictable in her performances.

Radhika Madan: This new way of life is scary on its own

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:08 PM IST
The actor says following precautionary protocol has become a way of life and routine, which was needed some getting used to it
Close
Natasa Stankovic took to Instagram Stories to share a picture of her husband Hardik and their son Agastya.
Natasa Stankovic took to Instagram Stories to share a picture of her husband Hardik and their son Agastya.

Natasa Stankovic, Hardik Pandya share pic of son on his first flight, see here

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:08 PM IST
Natasa Stankovic took to Instagram stories to share a picture of her husband Hardik Pandya and her son Agastya as their son took the first flight of his life.
Close
Priyanka Chopra took the hot wings challenge on Hot Ones again.
Priyanka Chopra took the hot wings challenge on Hot Ones again.

'Somebody get that damn phone': Priyanka can't keep cool on Hot Ones episode

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:06 PM IST
Priyanka Chopra was the first guest on the season premiere of hit show, Hot Ones. Host Sean Evans shared a promo video on the show's Instagram page, showing just how she fared against the hot wings.
Close
Ayushmann Khurrana is in Assam for a film shoot.
Ayushmann Khurrana is in Assam for a film shoot.

Ayushmann plays cricket in Assam, shares cute video of kids shouting his name

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:05 PM IST
Ayushmann Khurrana is in Assam for the shoot of his next film. He has posted videos of the good time he has been having there. Watch them here.
Close
Pushpa will star Allu Arjun and Rashmi Mandanna in prominent roles.
Pushpa will star Allu Arjun and Rashmi Mandanna in prominent roles.

Allu Arjun’s Pushpa confirmed to release in cinemas on August 13, see poster

By Haricharan Pudipeddi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:01 PM IST
Allu Arjun took to Twitter to make the announcement via a poster and said he’s excited to meet his fans in cinemas this year.
Close
Kapil Sharma and Ginni Chatrath are expecting their second baby.
Kapil Sharma and Ginni Chatrath are expecting their second baby.

Kapil Sharma confirms wife Ginni Chatrath is expecting second baby

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 04:45 PM IST
  • Kapil Sharma and his wife, Ginni Chatrath, are expecting their second child, he confirmed in a tweet on Thursday.
Close
Vikrant Massey and Sheetal Thakur recently bought a house.
Vikrant Massey and Sheetal Thakur recently bought a house.

Vikrant Massey shares pic with fiancee, tells fans not to wish them. Here's why

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 04:34 PM IST
Vikrant Massey has shared a picture from a puja with his fiancee Sheetal Thakur. However, he told his fans that he has not gotten married and the congratulations can wait.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP