xXx: Return of Xander Cage

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) has been in a self-impose exile over the past 15 years, but the US government needs his unique and extreme sport abilities to reclaim Pandora’s Box. This weapon has the ability to drop satellites from space on targets on the earth. The government was made aware of its abilities after an attack was made against Cage’s mentor Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson). An assault of this magnitude motivates National Security Agency director Jane Marke to reach out to this stunt expert and his motley crew. They are charged with recovering this weapon  of mass destruction from Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his group of bizarrely trained combatants before the next satellite drops. The crew travels the world to retrieve the box and they must eventually determine who are the allies and who are the enemies in this fight for world security.

Coming off the success of The Fast and the Furious franchise, Vin Diesel is looking for another series to reinvigorate and maintain his career. Xander Cage looks to be the right vehicle to drive Diesel’s theatrical craft further down the road of mindless shenanigans. Reminiscent of the gratuitous films of the late 80’s, this is a film heavy with biff and light on dialogue. Diesel seems to be suited for the cheesy one-liners, muscle flexing and brutish violence that defined the careers of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, excluding his brief run in Guardians of the Galaxy. Maintaining the formula from The Fast and The Furious, he sees the value of surrounding himself with a team of physical and comedic talents. The one component that lifts xXx: Return of Xander Cage above the rest of this franchise is the inclusion of Donnie Yen who manages to add an elegance to the fight scenes. His timing and nuanced hand-to-hand combat skills make way for a kung-fu element that improves the overall viewing experience.

With Diesel’s cinematic history and a clear understanding of this genre, it could be said that this film should not to be taken too seriously and be judged accordingly. Many may be willing to look forward to a bit of mindless fun and based on the box office results, it is understandable how this project was green-lit. Unfortunately, these are not enough reasons to lower the expectations of film viewing. The visual quality, scripting and acting performances are so poor as was proven by the audience’s response and laughter at all of the wrong times, due to the sheer ludicrous nature of the script. To expect some of these accomplished actors to say these lines must have caused some to wonder about their future career prospects. It is only the beginning of 2017, but xXx: Return of Xander Cage will be the first of the films to make the worst films of the year and to make bucket loads of money in the process.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Does the end justify the means?  This statement usually relates to having to break laws to get to the end result. Some may say that there should be no limits to what we should do to achieve our goals, especially when they are for the betterment of society. That opens the door to a discussion of situational ethics, but for the sake of this discussion, the key element that has to be considered is God. If anyone says they are a follower of the God of the Bible, when confronted with a situation they must ask the question if the path they are about to choose, that if it means breaking his commandments, defies his sovereign purpose or brings disgrace to His name, then the means do not justify the end. What are your thoughts?

Passages on the topic of the end justifying the means:  Isaiah 46:10-11, Romans 8:28, 1 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 1:15-16