© 2016 by Catherine Bilson

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Movie Review: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

January 19, 2017

 

I went along to see this movie with my hubby and sons, in the last week of the school holidays over here in Australia, expecting to be mildly entertained by the usual couple hours of outlandish stunts and occasional one-liners.

 

MUCH to my surprise, I absolutely loved it.

 

Yes, the plot’s a bit thin in spots. Yes, some of the stunts are completely and utterly nonsensically unbelievable.

 

But the xXx franchise has always known how not to take itself too seriously, and that’s illustrated in the first couple of minutes when Samuel L Jackson attempts to recruit a new player to the xXx program (played in a surprising cameo by Neymar Junior, yes, the Brazilian soccer player). Neymar, in a further twist, is playing himself. I was already blinking and going ‘what’ at this stage… and then we get a freeze-frame and a little tag introducing Neymar and a line saying “thought he was being recruited for The Avengers”.

 

Unsurprisingly, the whole cinema fell about laughing.

 

(If you didn’t get the in-joke, SLJ also plays Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… almost the exact same character he plays here, down to the single good eye).

 

That little in-joke really sets the tone for the entire anarchic story that follows. The film has a ton of laugh-out-loud moments, some visually great stunts and some freaking AWESOME martial arts sequences, most of them courtesy of Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa who are both given free rein to kick ass and take names.

 

My favourite character though was Adele, a sniper played superbly by Australian actress Ruby Rose. For those of you who don’t know, Ruby is an out and proud lesbian, and she PLAYS an out and proud lesbian in the movie, blatantly flirting with several attractive women she comes into contact with. It’s delightful and I actually left totally shipping her with Becky (Nina Dobrev, the team’s tech geek). I also adored that when we first met Adele, she was lurking on the African savannah amusing herself by taking potshots at big-game hunters. My kind of hero!

 

Thinking about it, this is one of the most diversely cast action movies I’ve ever seen come out of Hollywood. You’ve got to go a long way down the cast list to find a white guy, and the two that are in it are Irish (Rory McCann) and English (Michael Bisping).

 

Deepika Padukone, a stunning Indian actress I hadn’t heard of before this movie, is the first-billed female. It’s very refreshing to see an Indian actress in a kickass role in Western media… the only other one in a major role I know of at the moment is Priyanka Chopra in Quantico. Padukone doesn’t quite have Chopra’s acting talents but she’s well worth watching nonetheless.

 

This movie is a cracking good couple of hours of entertainment, and the diverse and talented cast is a bonus. Go see it.

 

 

 

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