Review: xXx 3 The Return Of Xander Cage

One of the worst movies I’ve ever watched.

I know it’s just a silly popcorn action flick… But they’re not meant to be this bad…

I wanted to write this by means of expressing how much of a tour de force I feel Donnie Yen is. And how his status as my idol, both as a filmmaker and martial artist, is once again justified.

I just sat through an hour and a half of pure tripe. Complete and utter detritus (bar Donnie Yen’s fight scenes of course). An experience I do not wish to repeat ever again. In summation: the script is terrible, as if penned by an immature, amateurish 10-year old that somehow passed as a professional scriptwriter. Clichéd up to its bollocks and not in a good, self-aware way. Nina Dobrev portrays one of the most feverishly annoying characters in recent memory. So annoying in fact that whenever she was on screen I had to watch through gritted teeth. My vocal cords emitting a sound I can only describe as a pained koala having a prostate exam. In her first on-screen moment she alludes to Mr Cage doing the dirty with her so hard that she has to resort to using her safeword “kumquat”. Old mate Vin plays an abhorrently self-aggrandising, poorly informed, god’s gift to women. An arrogant, and overtly unfunny tank who oozes as much charm as a baboon with diarrhoea. There’s a confusing and needless cameo from Brazilian football player Neymar Jr, who admittedly was one of the better actors in the film. And Thai action star Tony Jaa was woefully underused. Not even one flying elbow.

Luckily the film didn’t run on but nevertheless had me bored and uninterested almost straight away, none of the set pieces or choreography was inspiring. Nor was any of the acting, characters, cinematography, or script. Usually, if a film is bad I zone out. However, in this case, it just made me angry. One scene attempted to showcase two of the leading ladies in a back to back gunplay scenario, reminiscent of EA’s Army of Two game franchise, dispatching a horde of armed soldiers. I expect it was supposed to be cool, but it wasn’t.

But alas… If you wade through the shit, you can find a diamond. Donnie Yen. Effortlessly charismatic, and wildly entertaining. His ONE substantial fight scene had me smiling with glee, a suitable showcase for his limitless abilities as a martial artist. One of the only theatrical fighters who can make a single punch look impossibly cool. Having said that, he’s not punching other fighters like he is in his Hong Kong projects, so he’s got an easy ride in this. It’s a shame Jaa was used so little, hopefully, he and Donnie can come together again for a more appropriate martial arts piece.

All in all… What a waste of time. I haven’t seen the other xXx films, and I really don’t want to. I don’t know if there was fan service or inside jokes, but frankly, I don’t care. An exercise in peddling filth to the brain-dead masses. If Diesel or D.J Caruso were to stop making films, we wouldn’t miss them. Stick to The Fast and Furious, a genuinely enjoyable franchise. Even then, Diesel isn’t the main draw.

1

Qualitative rating

A self-aggrandizing, boring, tasteless film. xXx 3 was clearly not versed in the art of self-awareness. It attempts to be but fails in containing its immature, uneducated, ignorant side and allows it to run the show. The film’s only redeeming feature is the marvellous Donnie Yen.

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Editor In Chief at The Idle Critic, Cinematographer, husband, dreaming of a bygone era, caught in a Champagne Supernova, sometimes awake. - joseph@theidlecritic.co.uk