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FILM REVIEW: xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (12A)

It just goes to show if you wait too long to release a sequel – then the novelty wears off.

Outside of the Fast and the Furious series Vin Diesel (also see Riddick and The Last Witch Hunter) has struggled to reach the heights his ego thinks he deserves in Hollywood, and after a 15-year hiatus (not counting the Ice Cube-headlining sequel) since starring in 2002’s original xXx (which came on the bounce of him being flavour of the month after the first F&F film), these types of movies have been done to death.

That said, despite this having a slightly more ‘video gamey’ tongue-in-cheek aspect to it compared to the aforementioned Furious series, this is actually pretty enjoyable for what it’s worth – and is arguably a shade above the average actioner due to its lighter tone.

XXX-IMAGE

Diesel returns as extreme athlete turned-government-operative Xander Cage (long thought to be deceased), who comes out of self-imposed exile to lead a team – consisting of Ruby Rose’s (soon to be seen in John Wick: Chapter 2) sharpshooter Adele Wolff and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone’s Serena Unger – in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as ‘Pandora’s Box’ after his former mentor Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) is put out of action.

At the behest of Toni Collette’s CIA chief, Cage and his self-picked buddies must go through Donnie Yen’s (recently seen with his exceptional turn as Chirrut Imwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) alpha warrior Xiang and his highly-skilled cronies – including UFC fighter Michael Bisping’s Hawk and Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak)’s Talon – to try and locate the destructive device that turns the Earth’s satellites into WMD’s.

But despite this being largely generic with predictable twists and turns – and there has arguably never been so much poorly aimed gunfire in a movie – it does contain the vital element of fun, and nicely sets it up for further Mission: Impossible-lite instalments if it can overcome its lacklustre box office run.

It even adds a nice continuity touch by including Ice Cube’s Darius Stone (from the 2005 sequel The Next Level) which does at least hint at some potential longevity in the franchise yet.

‘X-tremely’ entertaining in a completely ‘leave your brain at the door’ kind of way.

Gavin Miller

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Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L Jackson, Toni Collette, Rory Mccann, Michael Bisping, Tony Jaa, Hermione Corfield, Tony Gonzalez, Al Sapienza, Neymar Jr & Ice Cube

Running Time: 1 Hr 47 Mins

Director: Dj Caruso

Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date showtimes for movies at Showcase Cinema de Lux Peterborough. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’.

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Written by ESP Magazine

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