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MOVIE REVIEW

xXx: Return of Xander Cage also known as “Triple X 3,” “xXx 3,” “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage 3-D,” “Triplu X - Intoarcerea lui Xander Cage,” “XxX 3: Xander Cagen paluu,” “xXx - Il ritorno di Xander Cage,” “xXx: Ksanderio Keidzo sugrizimas,” “xXx: O Regresso de Xander Cage,” “xXx: Povratak Xandera Cagea,” “xXx: Reactivated,” “xXx: Reaktywacja,” “xXx: Reativado,” “xXx: Újra akcióban”

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language.

Reviewed by: Joseph Gabriel
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Spy Crime Action Adventure Thriller 3D IMAX Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
January 20, 2017 (wide—3,651 theaters)
DVD: May 16, 2017
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
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sexual objectification of women

LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

lust (WebBible Encyclopedia)

fornication in the Bible

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

TEMPTATIONS—How can I deal with temptations? Answer

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

Self-aggrandizement—aggressively enhancing or exaggerating one’s own importance, power, or reputation

Egocentricism—regarding one’s self as the center of all things

compare to HUMILITY of true followers of Christ

Copyright, Paramount Pictures

globalism

criminal conspiracies

Copyright, Paramount Pictures

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Featuring: Vin DieselXander Cage
Toni ColletteJane Marke
Samuel L. JacksonAugustus Gibbons
Ice CubeDarius Stone
Donnie Yen … Xiang
Deepika Padukone … Serena Unger
Kris Wu … Nicks
Ruby Rose … Adele Wolff
Tony Jaa … Talon
Nina Dobrev … Becky Clearidge
Rory McCann … Tennyson Torch
See all »
Director: D.J. Caruso—“I Am Number Four,” “Disturbia
Producer: Maple Cage Productions
One Race Films
See all »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Prequels: “xXx” (2002), “xXx: State of the Union” (2005)

Ah, good old Triple-X. Was there really a need for a third film in this franchise? The original was a goofy actioner and made big bucks at the box office, while the sequel was an absolute abomination, bereft of any value. Either the folks at Hollywood are running a bit thin on ideas or they just really love this old franchise, for whatever reason. Is this new installment on par with the original, as bad as the second, or somewhere in between?

A look at the plot, first. When a group of super-spy rogues seize a device known as “Pandora’s Box” from the government and hatch plans to bring down the Earth’s satellites with it, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel, the original xXx) is recruited to help bring them down and recover the device. He teams up with a group of misfits, each possessing their own special skills, to do so.

Really, that’s all there is to it. For all we know, the plot for this film could have been scribbled on the back of a used napkin. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, to be completely honest. However, that doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the movie itself. After all, anyone going to this film, probably won’t be expecting a deep and meaningful masterpiece of a story. The main draw here is the action-packed set-pieces showcased in the trailers. With that in mind, how does this film hold up?

Not too good, unfortunately.

I really wanted to like this movie. The trailers promised a fun-filled action fest with a possibly decent sense of humor. While the final product certainly doesn’t skimp on the action (there’s a set piece every 10 minutes or so), the quality of the action scenes, as well as the quality of all other aspects of the film, leaves much to be desired. Morally speaking, it’s a bit of a hot mess, too. We’ll get to that later.

First off, the action. The intro sequence, where the villains assault a government meeting and seize the doomsday device they’re after, is a fun for the brief time it lasts. We get some great martial arts choreography, terrifically flashy gun-play, an adrenaline-pumping backing music track, and interesting camerawork. Everything else is an absolute bore to watch. The set pieces are so insanely over-the-top, so absurdly unrealistic, and so insultingly lacking in tension that they end up failing miserably when it comes to the most important area: thrilling the audience.

Every character in this movie is a superhero. Other than the human cardboard cutouts who serve as common bad guys for the heroes to take down, everyone here is completely invulnerable. This is a movie where the main hero gets hit full speed by a car in traffic and gets up, perfectly fine without a single scrape, before carrying out even more absurd, CGI-fueled stunts. And trust me, if what I just described sounds insulting to your intelligence, rest assured the movie has far worse to offer.

How is the viewer supposed to feel any tension or suspense when the film’s heroes are all shown to be indestructible, right from the get-go? The best I can say for it is that it does surprisingly work as unintentional comedy. Yeah, I ended up laughing out loud during the screening I attended, due to the sheer, mind-numbing absurdity I was witnessing. And believe me, I wasn’t the only one.

The performances are another problem. Everyone in this movie seems to be trying too hard to both look and act cool. We get constant bad one-liners, smug behavior, over-the-top acting, and moments where the actors literally just pose in “ultra-cool” fashion while firing guns in different directions. The pretentiousness of it all gets tiresome fast. Of all the characters, none is more affected by these issues than our main man, Xander Cage. This is a protagonist so egocentric, so smug, and so self-aggrandizing, you can’t help but dislike him from the start. I generally like Vin Diesel as an actor, so to see him come off as this unlikable isn’t easy.

The script is equally affected by the same problems as the characters. The “too cool for you” attitude permeates 90% of the dialog. The plot is paper thin—and only there to give us some reason for all the over the-top action.

That all sounds bad, right? What if I told you the moral side of things is just about as flawed?

Content Issues

It goes without saying, but this is one violent movie. Scores of people are gunned down throughout. Close-quarters fights end in combatants getting kicked, punched, and slammed all over the place. An entire army of goons is wiped out by grenade launcher blasts. Heroes and villains, alike, are hit by speeding vehicles. A satellite crashes down on a shop, annihilating everyone inside. A plane full of people blows up in a fiery blaze. A motorcycle’s wheel is used as blunt weapon, smashing faces in. A car chase involves many violent crashes, including civilian vehicles. There’s much more, but to list every single occurrence of violence in a film like this is a futile task. Of course, it’s almost entirely bloodless—wouldn’t want to miss out on that golden PG-13 rating and risk losing box office dollars.

God’s name is misused 6 times. The language also includes one f-bomb and about 25 uses of “sh*t.” “A*s”, “d**n”, “h*ll”, “bas*rd”, and “p*ss” are also along for the ride, each used more than a dozen times.

The sexual content, while mostly implied, is nasty. There’s some serious fornication going on in this movie. It’s all played for laughs—unfunny laughs. Our hero, Xander Cage, is a lecherous misogynist who seems to magnetically attract every scantily-clad woman within a 5-foot radius. By the time the end credits roll, he’s bedded about 8 of them. That’s no exaggeration. At one point, a whole group of barely dressed women come on to him. We’re talking about 6 or 7 women at once. The film cuts to all of them in their underwear on a bed the next morning, while Xander overlooks them with a smug smile on his face, implying an orgy took place. In another scene, he and another woman kiss and fondle in bed, before the screen cuts to black. The camera shamelessly ogles seductively-dressed women on many occasions. There’s a stench of misogyny evident throughout the entire run-time and sexual innuendos show up in the dialog.

Two crazy parties are shown, and both include sights of people downing the booze.

I hope you’ve made up your mind by now on how unworthy this film is of both your hard-earned cash and time. Sure, it functions as unintentional comedy, whenever the absurd action scenes are dominating the screen, but these moments of guilty-pleasure hilarity don’t even come close to making the entire experience worth it. The action is mostly dull and insulting to the intelligence, the characters are unlikable, the dialog is a cheese-fest, the content issues are out of hand for a PG-13 flick, and the overall experience just leaves you feeling dissatisfied. Factor in a complete absence of any sort of moral positivity or spiritual lessons, and you’ve got the icing on the trash sundae. Save your money for a far better action flick. This one deserves the boot.

Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics
…fast and furious fun… exactly what the first movie should have been fifteen years ago. It’s an unapologetically stupid and absurd testosterone-fueled action fantasy that earns its keep by providing impressively gonzo stunt work, aggressively silly plotting and a mix of glamorous action stars and esteemed actors clearly having fun in the sandbox. …
Scott Mendelson, Forbes
…a reasonably entertaining popcorn movie experience… nonstop barrage of high-octane action sequences…
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
…“Return of Xander Cage” is unapologetically dumb and that’s just fine… embracing a progressive, globalist outlook
Kwame Opam, The Verge
…has an undeniable numbskull appeal…
Andrew Barker, Variety
the anti-establishment quips come fast and furious… The movie is mostly structured around set-pieces that highlight their individual skills and charms. There’s the martial-arts finesse of Yen and Jaa, who each get to shine in individual scenes, twisting motorbikes and oncoming cars into beautifully choreographed moves as if the mega-ton hunks of dangerous metal are mere dance props. …[3/4]
Tina Hassannia, National Post [Canada]
…Vin Diesel gives us sequel no one wanted… Director D.J. Caruso shoots the action so incoherently that you don't know where you are and who's getting hit. … [1/4]
Peter Travers,·Rolling Stone
…Your job is to wince at the corny jokes, soak up the action, enjoy those parts of the balletic and inventive stunts not ruined by manic editing and marvel at how outdated and idiotic the whole thing is. Unless you’re an 11-year-old boy, in which case “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” is the Best. Movie. Ever.
Liz Braun, Postmedia Network, Toronto Sun
Diesel ends up being the worst thing in his own movie… the problem was Diesel and his monumental effort to be cool, instead of endearing… [D-]
Matt Goldberg, Collider
…Vin Diesel's high-camp stunt extravaganza blows up in his face… a xXx reboot that even lets Vin Diesel down. [2/5]
Tim Robey, The Telegraph [UK]
…International cast can’t do much with script though juvenile thrills abound… [2½/4]
Nick Patch,
It’s all about excess. As in: excess of crazed stunts—watch Vin Diesel plummet from a plane without a parachute, and live—and automatic weaponry and massive explosions and tattoos. …[1/4]
Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times