xXx: Return of Xander Cage is the third installment in the Triple X Franchise. This go around Vin Diesel returns as the titular character after taking the second film off while Ice Cube took the reins for a film. The franchise is built on over the top action and while poking fun at the spy thriller genre. xXx was a fun popcorn flick that had a lot of enjoyment in it. State of The Union, the second film was definitely forgettable in the eyes of most. Diesel returning to the franchise had its ups and downs. While his Fast and Furious films have been on the rise, his projects outside of F&F have not been received well.
Joining Diesel in this action pack sequel is Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, and Nina Dobrev. Back again reprising their roles from previous films includes Samuel L. Jackson as NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons, Ice Cube as the 2nd xXx Darius Stone. D. J. Caruso takes over the director’s duties and it was written by F. Scott Frazie
If you’ve watched the trailers for xXx: The Return of Xander Cage you pretty much know what you are getting. It is a popcorn fun over the top action film in the vein of 90s action flicks. There are one liners, unbelievable action, and a plot that makes no damn sense, and even with all that it is so much fun to watch. The film keeps you entertained from start to finish. Not because of the plot or story but because it’s just fun to shut your brain off and enjoy the ride.
I was forced to see this film in 3D, and we all know I am not the biggest fan of 3D. If you have the choice of to 3D or not to 3D, I suggest not going 3D. It did not add anything to the film, or was even really that much to it. It didn’t necessarily distract from the film, but it definitely didn’t lend anything extra to it.
This cast is pretty incredible. Maybe not in acting ability, but in the fact that it’s fun to watch these guys beat the hell out of each other. Vin Diesel is once again dialed into the Xander Cage character like he never left it. While he is very much a like when you compare Xander to Dominic Toretto, there a little differences that Diesel portrays that amount to enough to distinguish a different personality. Samuel L Jackson is of course Samuel L Jackson once again. They make some small jabs and jokes at the Avengers and his character of Nick Fury that really had me laughing.
The new comers to the film are really what make this one fun. I am pretty much in love with Ruby Rose. Her character is the over the top female badass and she drives the role perfectly. Seeing Michael Bisping take his first steps into the world of acting is pretty awesome too. They use him in a way that plays to his strengths of being a badass fighter, hiding any shortcomings he may have in his first outing. Nina Dobrev is the breakout performance though. Her quirky attitude with the right amount of humor and sexual tension aligns perfectly with the feel of this installment.
I’d be remised if I didn’t mention how awesome it is to see both Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen out there as well. These two are iconic when it comes to martial artist in film. They are on a level that few have made to. Names like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. Jaa and Yen deserve to be mentioned in that conversation. And their fight choreography in this film is just another example of that.
The film is shot pretty well. While there is not much to call “ground breaking direction” D. J. Caruso does a great job of bringing to life some killer cool action sequences. The action scenes are intense and over the top, and fun to watch. They keep you excited and entertained. And that is what we are looking for in a film like this. It is not about being enthralled in the story of the film, but just being able to watch a lot awesome action and some funny one liners. And this cast and crew brought that to life.
Look, no one was going into xXx: Return of Xander Cage expecting an Oscar caliber film. We go to see crazy action, hot girls, and a dumb fun story. The issue is can the studio make it dumb enough to be a fun film, but not so bad that it’s Independence Day Resurgence. And in the case of xXx 3 I think they did a great job. It is fun, it is action packed, and it is just dumb fun. There is enjoyment to be had in this film if you can look passed the lack of story, and over the top acting. I gave xXx: The Return of Xander Cage a 3.3 overall, with Jeebus bonus of .3 for Ice Cube’s cameo. It would have gotten a full .5 bonus had they not put it in the trailer!
The Jeebus Score explained
The Jeebus score is out of a possible 5 points with a .5 bonus. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Entertainment Value, Story/Writing, Performance, Direction, and Production. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 5.5 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.