Let me start by saying that prior to going into this movie, I enjoyed the first two xXx movies for what they were, brainless action that doesn't require them to be Citizen Kane. The first one appealed to audiences because of the rising stature of Vin Diesel as being an action movie star with this franchise, The Fast And The Furious, and Riddick. The first one was nothing special but was entertaining, hip, and presented what seemed to be a 21st century version of a James Bond type character that appealed to the younger crowd. The second xXx movie replaced Vin Diesel with Ice Cube much to the disappointment of fans, and was both a critical and box office bomb in comparison to the first movie. For all that movies faults, I still enjoyed it but after properly judging it as mindless entertainment that didn't really hold any cinematic value to it. Fast Forward to 2017 and now we have the third installment of the franchise with Vin Diesel now returning to his other hit franchise in hopes of bringing back the crowd who saw the first movie back in the summer 2002. The filmmakers even made it a point to name the title xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage, so audiences are well aware that this one marks Vin Diesels return to the franchise. Despite what many reviewers and critics say about this one, I actually enjoyed the film on the same level I liked the previous two films which is to view them as being mindless entertainment.
xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage is by no means a masterpiece nor one of the greatest action movies ever made, but it's sole purpose was to be entertaining and as frustrating as that might be for those reading this review to hear, it did just that but after I completely shut down my brain. Vin Diesel returned in hopes of jump starting this franchise once again and here he proves he's still got what it takes to be the lead, but what brings him down is the script. If you're someone who enjoyed the first two installments, then you should have no problem enjoying this one as it has throwbacks to that one with the return of Ice Cube in a cameo along with Samuel L. Jackson. The newer casting additions such as Toni Collette, Rogue One's Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, and Deepika Padukone all work off each other to give effective and likeable performances as Xander's team and nemesis. The problem that this movie has which can also be attributed to every sequel since the first one, is even though the film has great importance placed upon it's action set pieces, the storyline is rather worn out and doesn't take the series in any newer direction other than wanting to bring back Xander Cage in order to appease fans who were disappointed by his absence in the second movie. The movies plot centers around Xander Cage being left for dead after an incident, although he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons played by Samuel L. Jackson. The films action sequences are wild in regards to stunts, especially between middle aged Vin Diesel and martial artist Donnie Yen. The action presented here is Ludacris but will put a smile on any action junkies face regardless of the films story problems. The two best performances in the film belong with Diesel who shows that he is an awesome and charismatic action star in the lead role, and Collette who channels the cold-bloodedness of her part as the films main antagonist. These are pleasures to be had when the action becomes repetitive and the story feels all too familiar. For audiences, The Return Of Xander Cage may appear to be a difficult film to review as one must not be expecting a action movie masterpiece when going into it, and just accept it for what it is. The xXx franchise can almost be summed up as the alternative universe to the Fast And Furious franchise whereas that one focused on fast cars that are exotic looking, xXx focuses on bikes and water skis while trying to give the James Bond formula a modern day and hip makeover.
In the end The Return Of Xander Cage certainly isn't a film for everyone and those who have been loyal fans of the franchise thus far will get exactly what they need and desire out of this film. As for me, I did not expect this movie to be anything amazing nor groundbreaking going in and found it to be entertaining on the basis of I expected it to be the same type of film the previous two were which is to be brainless entertainment that required popcorn and a cold drink to go with it. If you were one who was greatly disappointed by the second installment largely due to Vin Diesels absence, then you may find slighter satisfaction with this installment knowing that he's back. If you're one of those who liked one and appreciated the second when most people didn't, you'll be happy to hear that the third remains consistent with the previous two and even brings in Darius Stone from the second to help Vin Diesel at a pivotal point in the story. Having said that, the greatest fault of this film that worked against it was it's screenplay which brought nothing new to the table. If you're one that can shut your brain off and just have some fun that pertains to mindless explosions along with being a Vin Diesel fan than The Return Of Xander Cage is the movie for you. However, if you want a film with deeper character development and a more engaging storyline that doesn't just rely around mindless explosions than one should look elsewhere from this franchise as it's sole purpose is to entertain without requiring one to think. Despite Vin Diesels return to the film being a plus, one wishes that if they are to make another installment, they will find a much better script that will allow the franchise to branch out into newer territory otherwise it should be put to bed.