Saturday, 21 January 2017

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

After leaving this movie, my seventeen year old cousin told me that he had lost all respect for Vin Diesel. That got me thinking. The Iron Giant came out before he was born, Pitch Black came out the year he was born and The Fast and the Furious didn't come out much later after that (side note: that first F&F movie is the only one I like because my school camp didn't have any other movies to show us). So why did my cousin have any respect for him in the first place? Maybe Groot, I guess. Hopefully you can tell from this opening paragraph that I don't have much to say about this movie, so it's going to be a fun review for all of us.

Former government operative and extreme sport enthusiast Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is coaxed out of retirement in order to hunt down a terrorist named Xiang (Donnie Yen) who has stolen a device that can bring satellites crashing down to the Earth. But shock horror, Xiang is actually part of the same xXx program and Xander's boss Jane Marke (Toni Collette) is the bad guy. There you go, you've just been informed of the world's most basic and predictable action movie ever. Helping Xander is the most standard group of buddies ever. Standard except for one DJ who he keeps around for the good times.

The action in this movie is the most logical thing happening. That's weird to say considering the movie starts with Diesel skiing down a gravelly hill in move that makes me question whether they understand how skis or gravel works. But then again this is the movie that has dirt bikes that whip down rivers and under waves (all in the same chase mind you). Because this is a movie that is appealing only to teenage boys, there are a lot of gratuitous girls in bikini shots, as well as a scene in which Diesel is the 'victim' of a female gangbang (I actually feel disgusted that I wrote that sentence, let alone watched it in a movie). The movie tries to even out this disgrace by adding two female action heroes, which doesn't work. Before you all go "Ruby Rose is my kween, she slays in OITNB, what are you talking about?", I have to remind you that I grew up with her being presenter on the Australian version of MTV and nothing will ever get that out of my head. In addition to all this weird portrayal of women where they're not sure if they should degrade them or make them strong, Nina Dobrev plays the cringiest character ever, someone who is geeky and shy, but unafraid of telling Xander Cage she likes rough sex and flirting with Ruby Rose. Again, this is obviously the very warped fantasy of what a woman should be like.

The moment well-respected martial artist Donnie Yen realised he needs a new agent

This movie does give me a chance to educate you a little about the industry though; namely the relationship between Hollywood and China. This year it is expected that Chinese ticket sales will surpass those of America for the first time in history. Because of this, Hollywood studios want to capitalise on that untapped market by getting their movies shown in China. Now the Chinese government only lets in a limited number of decadent Western films a year (and boy is this one decadent) and to make those chances higher, a studio can co-produce with a Chinese company. In order to do that, the filmmakers have to agree to fill a certain number of lead roles with Chinese actors. (I know that this is a deeply complex issue and I'd suggest checking out this video by Vox). What does all this have to do with our horrible movie. Well, it explains the inclusion of Chinese actors Tony Jaa, Donnie Yen and Kris Wu and also why this movie will probably do so well in that market.

xXx is an extremely subpar action movie. I know that sometimes I come of as someone who doesn't respect the genre, but I do enjoy it and know when something is trying. There was no effort whatsoever here. Gone are the extreme sports that I'm guessing the x's stand for and are replaced by a lot of standing around with arms spread wide open. And remember those character title cards that everyone thought were pointless in Suicide Squad, get ready for a lot of those.




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