xXx: The Return of Xander Cage review

Largely thanks to the international box office, it's been announced that xXx 4 is in development. Vin Diesel has managed to successfully bring this character back to life, a character that was developed to fill long spells between the Fast and Riddick films. xXx may be the most perplexing, however; the Rob Cohen directed original is quite frankly a cinematic dinosaur, taking the piss out of Bond before Daniel Craig brought that franchise screaming back to relevance, and drowning in music, cameos and an attitude which feels not just of its time but almost of its month of release. 

xxx the return of xander cage 2017 blu ray embed1With The Return of Xander Cage however, Diesel and company appear to be trying to inject this franchise with a bit of Fast & Furious magic, bringing together a culturally diverse set of team members, not all of whom are there to bring any action, and treating franchise history with a reverence which is thoroughly ill deserved. Unlike the Fast/Furious films though, Xander Cage is a character who appears to be having fun, less the stern father of the family like his other main franchise, more the pervy drunk uncle who wants everyone to have fun while saving the world.

The net result of this is that The Return of Xander Cage is some of the most fun action you’ll see this year. It is a film which knows its place, beginning with Samuel L Jackson trying to recruit Neymar Jr to the xXx programme and follows this with Cage skiing down a South American forest in a bid to bring free to air football to the people. It is a film that gives zero fucks about how silly it is and marries this with Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and others kicking ass alongside Diesel and genuinely looking like they’re having fun in the process.

xxx the return of xander cage 2017 blu ray embed2This is also a film which knows how long to be. An ever increasing amount of blockbusters appear to equate length with quality, the more is better ethos which gives us summer blockbusters which almost uniformly go over two hours. This is about an hour and 45 minutes long, it knows when to get in and when to get out. DJ Caruso shows little directorial flair here but he appears to run a tight ship and it is appreciated.

There is essentially nothing about The Return of Xander Cage you could hate but if you’re willing to go along with it, it is all quite the blast, an action film purely seeking to entertain with little emotional stakes or even attempts at character development. It knows what it is and is better for it. Roll on the next one.

EXTRAS: There's the featurette Third Time's The Charm: Xander Returns (8:13); the featurette Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast (20:18); the featurette Opening Pandora's Box: On Location (16:10); the featurette I Live For This Shit: Stunts (15:17); and a Gag Reel (2:12).

Ian Loring is a Screenjabber contributor

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