Picoreview: Triple xXx / Return of Xander Cage: daft but fun.
I went to Return of Xander Cage a couple weeks ago and sort of squinted at it, because I hadn’t seen Triple xXx for years but my vague feeling was that it had been an spy/action flick that lived within the bounds of extreme possibility, in much the same way that The Fast and the Furious was faintly realistic, but Xander Cage was like skipping from FF1 directly to FF6, dispensing with the build-up and just moving from vaguely realistic to total absurdity.
Well, I just rewatched Triple xXx and I am totally correct.
xXx is the better movie for a handful of reasons, including the fact that it’s not constantly trying to shoehorn callbacks to itself in it. I mean, yes, I wanted to see Xander’s ridiculous fur coat again, but not on a rich girl’s London rooftop, which is neither cold nor absurd enough to excuse that excessive coat. (The entire London scene, in fact, would have been better excised.)
Xander Cage also suffers badly from an interminable “getting the gang back together” sequence, which is particularly dire since we have, of course, never seen any of the gang before so they all have to be established. It goes on for roughly 3 hours, and is only forgiveable because it introduces Ruby Rose, who is unearthly hot. xXx‘s annoying geek boy, about whom I had entirely forgotten, is replaced by an equally annoying geek girl, which is one of the many things I give the movie credit for: its gender parity is pretty good.
I literally do not remember the plot of Xander Cage. To be fair, I’m not sure I remembered the plot of xXx, either, but it had at least been several years since I’d last seen xXx and it’s been three weeks since I’ve seen Xander Cage. Oh, wait, now that I’m typing this I’ve developed a vague recollection of the plot, but obviously it didn’t make a great impression. It was the same kind of thing as xXx, now that it’s coming back to me, except ratcheted up to 9. (I’d say 11, but it’s made over $300m worldwide on an $85m budget and I expect there’ll be another one, so I need to give it some room to turn the absurdity up another few notches.)
I did think, more than once, that unlike xXx, Xander Cage had an overt political agenda. xXx is anti-establishment in that the hero’s basically a criminal, but Xander Cage was more out there saying it’s our duty to question our governments and not to obey unjust laws. If it was still in the theatres I’d go see it again before posting this to make sure I’m remembering that right, but I’m pretty sure I am. It was…not a message I expected from an explosions and extreme stunts popcorn flick.
Anyway, I liked Xander Cage pretty well, but it really was too much of a mess trying to (re)establish itself as a F&F type movie. Having gotten it all set up, though, hopefully another one wouldn’t have those problems. (Of course, I felt that way about the new Ghostbusters, too, and that appears to be going a big shiny nowhere, so meh.)
And on the third hand apparently Vin Diesel spent an entire Xander Cage promo interview making a Brazillian reporter horribly uncomfortable by doing what he probably thought was charming, over-the-top flirting and which she…did not…so I’m pretty disappointed in him. This is the first time (that I’ve heard of, at least) he’s done something like this, and I hope like hell he’s recognized he was not behaving well and learned that it’s only fun if everybody is enjoying themselves, because I don’t want to have to stop going to his movies.
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)