Saturday, 24 June 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2016)


























Some people have been wanting to see a different angle on James Bond, perhaps diversifying the main role, well look no further. Yes I realise its a bit old hat to label this franchise as a mere Bond clone, but hell...in this movie they even go as far as to clone a classic Bond moment. That moment being the immortal sequence where Ursula Andress strides out of the sea in her white bikini. Said sequence was then cloned (or paid homage to) by Craig Daniels in 'Casino Royale', and now we have Vin Diesel doing the exact same thing in this movie.

So what's this movie all about? Well not a lot really, and that's just one of the movies problems. The basic plot surrounds the CIA recruiting Xander Cage (again) because they need him to track down and find a mcguffin that can control and bring down satellites from orbit like missiles. Yes Xander Cage was thought to be dead but low and behold he's not, because of course. Get used to nonsense like this because in this franchise apparently no one dies, they could come back at any time.

So the bad guys who have stolen this mcguffin are of course a small diverse band of villains consisting of Xiang (Donnie Yen the martial artist). Talon (Tony Jaa the kickboxing martial artist), Serena Unger (Deepika Padukone an Indian actress) and Hawk (Michael Bisping a British MMA fighter). To combat these guys Xander brings in his own little diverse band of misfits consisting of Harvard Zhou (Kris Wu a Chinese model/singer/actor). Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose an Australian model/DJ/actress/TV presenter), and Tennyson (Rory McCann a Scottish actor).



Anyway I'm not having a go at diversity but when you have these little teams of people that appear to be so painfully and obviously picked so as not to upset anyone and to try and include literally everyone, it just comes across as kinda daft. Dare I say unrealistic, but Christ what am I saying, look at the movie I'm reviewing here. The intro sequence sees Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to recruit fecking Neymar Jr. for flips sake! For anyone not in the know he's a soccer/football player.

But yeah, five minutes into the movie and I almost switched off. The entire intro is an utter shambles of stunt doubles, greenscreen and CGI, its horrendous garbage. Cage climbs and then jumps off some huge aerial tower with skies attached to his feet. He then proceeds to land perfectly in the jungle and skiing down the hills through the thick undergrowth. He then picks up his personal skateboard from some shack and proceeds to whip down the mountainous road dodging oncoming traffic or just bouncing off it. At the end we see his skateboard actually has his xXx logo on it. I swear it was some 'Batman and Robin' shit right there.

Amazingly I expected the movie to continue along this absurd line of bullshit but I was actually wrong! The movie does in fact take time to try and build something of a plot. It of course totally fails because this movie literally has no villains. What do I mean? Well the small band of diverse bad guys I mentioned turn out to be Triple X agents and are in fact trying to do the same thing as Cage. Yes there is indeed another villain in their midst, not hard to work out really, standard plot twist stuff. But when you do find out you'll also realise what I mean by this movie having no real antagonist.



But going back to my original take, a Bond clone/rip-off, yeah it kinda is really. It has all the standard spy guff that you'd expect including a young sexy female equivalent of Bond character Q. There is nothing new here, stupid stunt sequences like riding motorbikes with skis on water, jumping out of planes with no chutes, fighting on top of moving trucks, fighting on a highway in traffic, getting hit by cars but not getting injured, slow motion gun battles by the sexy female characters etc...All this but with shitty looking CGI and shitty looking greenscreen work. Oh and to top all that, Ice Cube makes a cameo when the good guys are in trouble...but then just disappears into obscurity again. Why would his character just pop up for one shoot out and not help out further? Why wouldn't his character be in the entire movie?

Honesty I can't remember the original two movies in this franchise. I know the second was more of a straight to DVD affair but the first movie was better than this surely? This doesn't even feel like a stand alone movie, it just feels like a Fast and Furious spin-off flick. Hell this movie and the newer FaF movies are virtually the same shit! Just a bunch of over the top action sequences slapped together around a flimsy, non-existent plot. Stick in a load of half naked girls, rap/hip hop music and rave/party sequences where everyone looks sweaty and voila! Apparently movies like this make lots of money nowadays. This movie was so artificial, simply aiming to be hip, trendy and cool (├╝ber marketable to impressionable teens). All style no substance, tacky, lazy, definitely not sexy and definitely not cool. Just cringeworthy on every level.

1.5/10