XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xxxDirector: D.J. Caruso

Writer: F Scott Frazier (Screenplay) Rich Wilkes (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L Jackson, Toni Collette, Michael Bisping

 

Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Surprisingly Entertaining

 

Story: XXX the Return of Xander Cage starts when Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is doing his recruitment trick once again with Neymar Jr (Yes, the footballer) before a satellite crash lands killing them both (Guess Jackson didn’t want the full pay check).

We move to CIA headquarters who are working out who crashed the satellite with Jane Marke (Collette) leading the investigation when Xiang (Yen), Serena Unger (Padukone), Hawk (Bisping) and Talon (Jaa) steal it back leaving the best of the best for dead.

There is just one man for this job, Xander Cage (Diesel) the extreme sports maniac returning to avenge his handler’s death. Xander must build a new team Adele Wolff (Rose), Torch (McCann) and Nicks (Wu) to go head to head with the deadliest opponents in the series of films.

 

Thoughts on XXX the Return of Xander Cage

 

StoryThe story does feel more complete than other XXX films but is one you really do have to go into with your brain off and just enjoy everything unfold. If you were to study this film for flaws you sure could find a few but this one is a story written to entertain. Bringing back Xander was the most important thing about this film working because he is what the draw of the extreme sports super-agent that is off the books stopping the bad guys.

Action/Adventure The action is wildly over the top and that is why we enjoy this style of films at time, we just need to switch off and enjoy.

Characters/PerformanceLet’s look at the characters now, Xander Cage is back and he was definitely the best of the two original XXX’s and this time he is still in love with his extreme sports and willing to fight for the country. Xiang is a good villain and a hell of a lot more interesting that other villains in the series. We do get a lot of comic relief from the supporting characters with Torch, Becky Nicks, and Wolff all doing the state the obvious or playing generic stereotypes. While the weakest character is Serena because she is just like any other female love interest in this style of film.

Looking at the performances Vin Diesel does seem to be mailing this one in which is disappointing because the character and attitude are all over the place this time around. It is fantastic to see Donnie Yen in his second American movie in a matter of months and being the star of the film. Deepika does also do a good job even if I felt the character was weakly written. The rest of the supporting cast are all fun with them all getting to show off their talents.

SettingsWe get our characters being put in the exotic locations for all the action sequences until we also end up in Detroit because I guess the budget couldn’t afford another beach location.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the special effects they all work for the film we get the nonsense over the top action getting made to look realistic throughout.

Final ThoughtsNot being the biggest fan of the XXX series after the first one I wasn’t expecting too much going into this one but you know what sometimes you just need to be entertained without thinking and this film delivers on all of that.

 

Overall: Switch off your brain and enjoy this adrenaline rush of an action film.

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Franchise Weekend – XXX 2 The Next Level (2005)

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Plot: Darius Stone, a new agent in the XXX program, is sent to Washington, DC to defuse a power struggle amongst national leaders.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Sequel

 

Story: XXX 2: The Next Level starts as the NSA base with Agent Augustus Gibbons (Jackson) is stationed meaning they need to find themselves a new XXX that is deadlier than the previous one. The man they turn to is Lieutenant Darius Stone (Cube) who is currently behind bars.

When all the government start searching for Darius and Gibbons they find themselves hunted down by General Deckert (Dafoe) making this a personal situation after he takes down Gibbons. Darius must use all of his training to uncover the truth with Deckeret after him and Agent Steele (Speedman) not knowing what he is walking into.

XXX 2: The Next Level is a sequel to a standard action film only it doesn’t bring back the lead actor and has to find a quick excuse to fit a new hero into the film and suddenly they are all one unit of former soldiers and everything stays within the US. This doesn’t really achieve what the first film does and ends up just being a plain action film that story comes off flat.

 

Actor Review

 

Willem Dafoe: General George Deckert is our main bad guy this time, he is the sectary of Defence that is out to us the NSA project as a cover up for his master plan which means he has to take out all of his former men including Gibbons and Stone. Willem as a villain what a surprise there where he is just solid in this role.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons has his base attacked leading him to find a new X agent where he turns to one of his old soldiers as we learn a lot more about the back story behind this character this time. Samuel is solid in this role but it feels like it could just have been pay check for him.

Ice Cube: Darius Stone is the new agent X he is a former soldier that has been locked up but after Gibbon breaks him out he puts all of his skills to use to uncover the truth as the battle comes to home ground in America. Ice doesn’t reach the levels of Vin as you never feel he could have been a soldier.

Scott Speedman: Agent Kyle Steele is the man investigating the attack on the NSA but as he learns more about the story he works himself with Darius to protect the nation. Scott is solid but doesn’t make that big of an impact in the story.

Support Cast: XXX 2: The Next Level much like the original has your typical supporting cast but I do feel this one does a larger range on the whole sidekick side of the story.

Director Review: Lee TamahoriLee gives us a sequel that doesn’t reach the levels of the original but having to fast track a new hero into the story didn’t help.

 

Action: XXX 2: The Next Level has very basic action being used throughout without being anything fresh.

Adventure: XXX 2: The Next Level lose the adventure side of the story which doesn’t help the ideas in the film.

Thriller: XXX 2: The Next Level should keep us on the edge but just doesn’t pull us in anymore.

Settings: XXX 2: The Next Level keeps all the action in America which doesn’t help the idea in the film because of the adventure angle.
Special Effects
: XXX 2: The Next Level has a few solid special effects but also a laughable effects.

Suggestion: XXX 2: The Next Level is one to most likely miss, it doesn’t add anything to the original and almost comes off as a parody of the first. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: No

Worst Part: Car on the train tracks.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $87 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Tagline: The greatest threat to our nation comes from within.

 

Overall: Terrible sequel really.

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Franchise Weekend – XXX (2002)

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Plot: An extreme sports athlete, Xander Cage, is recruited by the government on a special mission.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Film 101

 

Story: XXX starts as Agent Gibbons (Jackson) is bought into help with an operation where normal agents keep getting killed, his plan is to have criminals enter into the worlds. We go onto meet Xander Cage (Diesel) who is an extreme sportsman using his skills for campaigning.

We go through a training routine with Xander who ends up having to help Gibbons as an alternative looking agent in Czech Republic. Xander has to get close to Yorgi (Csokas) and his group Anarchy 99 which he finds to be an easy thanks to his extreme sports background but when he finds out what they have planned he has to find a way to save the day.

XXX is one of those films you can just sit back and enjoy, you have to suspended your disbelief to see what is going on and could easily be a video montage to make extreme sports popular again. We get a very average villain that would be something we have become used in 2002 with the weaker Bond films at the time. We know the story is easy so just enjoy.

 

Actor Review

 

Vin Diesel: Xander Cage is extreme sports man that has been breaking the law with his antics. He gets recruited to become an agent to get information from a terrorist group where he learns of a plan to build weapon and must use all his sports skills to save the day and the world. Vin is good in this leading role very much a performance you have come to expect from him in action film.

Asia Argento: Yelena is the lady who is up close and personal with Yorgi but we soon find that she isn’t completely like we thought as we learn her true nature in the situation. Asia is a good female lead but isn’t on the level we have come to know in modern cinema but only because of writing not her performance.

Marton Csokas: Yorgi is the criminal that Xander must get close to, he accepts Xander into his crime world because of his fame in the underground world but once we find out his real motives we see just how dangerous he really is. Marton is a good but simple villain which is only really one dimensional.

Samuel L Jackson: Agent Augustus Gibbons is the man who comes up with the idea of using criminals to take down the crime ring and his first recruit Xander Cage. This is a very easy authority role that we could see in many other films. Samuel is good for this role even if it never really tests his skills.

Support Cast: XXX has a supporting cast we have all come to know with a henchman, gadget guy and unlucky guys, thy all help the film really well in the film.

Director Review: Rob CohenRob gives us an easy to watch action film that works for what it is without being a classic.

 

Action: XXX is everything you want in an action film with extreme sports.

Adventure: XXX is great for an adventure side of the story which all works well.

Thriller: XXX keeps us on edge throughout without being full edge of the seat.

Settings: XXX uses the Czech Republic setting which does have good visual but never really feels in peril.
Special Effects
: XXX has good effects with everything that happens with avalanche scene having a few moments that you can see the CGI.

Suggestion: XXX is one for all the action fans to enjoy but don’t go in too seriously. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Extreme sports scenes.

Worst Part: Isn’t the most original.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Has one, with another in the works.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $70 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

Tagline: If you want someone to save the world, make sure it’s someone who likes the world as it is.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action film that is nothing too special

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X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

casting cardDirector: Bryan Singer

Writer: Simon Kinberg (Screenplay) Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Story)

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Luca Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy

 

Plot: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappoint Sequel

 

Story: X-Men: Apocalypse starts as we see a fail ritual to bring Apocalypse alive in ancient Egyptian, move forward to 1981 we get to meet our fresh set of mutants with Scott Summers/ Cyclops (Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), Angel (Hardy), Jean Grey (Turner) and Storm (Shipp). Scott being the brother of Havok (Till) gets enrolled in Professor Xavier’s (McAvoy) school while Magneto (Fassbender) is living a normal life back in Poland.

It isn’t long until Apocalypse is being raised from the dead with the higher power mutants being able to sense him rising. With Magneto driven to the man he didn’t want to live anymore he unleashes his rage, while Professor Xavier seeks an old friend Moira Mactaggert (Byrne) for answers to the rising of Apocalypse.

Apocalypse builds himself an army of mutants with increased powers as he searches for the most powerful mutants to help him reclaim the Earth that was once his with Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke (Munn) by his side. It is up to Professor Xavier to take his student into battle to stop the end of the world.

X-Men: Apocalypse is yet another restart timeline X-Men movie that for some reason tries to reference future outings but also erasing other moments. This just confuses the timelines but as for it being a solo story you do need to have seen the previous films to understand certain moments. The introducing of younger versions of the mutants we have known in previous films but they all seem suddenly powerful enough to handle themselves in a fight. We get the same odd Professor X and Magneto dealing with what they want without agreeing. In fairness this is just another wildly over the top X-Men movie that can be enjoy from a casual point of view but for story telling it’s just not up to the standard we are used to.

 

Actor Review

 

James McAvoy: Professor Charles Xavier is now just trying to just teach the young mutants to deal with their mutant powers trying to keep peace between the two kinds. He ends up having to come face to face with an enemy that is controlling his closest friend/enemy Magneto. James is solid but just doesn’t give us the character we fully enjoy.

Michael Fassbender: Magneto is now trying to live a normal life in Poland, he has started a family but when his identity becomes apparent tragedy strikes and we see Magneto want vengeance against the human race as he stands next to Apocalypse. This is the best and most tragic back story Magneto has ever had making him the best youngster version we have seen before. Michael is one of the stars of the show with his performance but the character does seem to get forgotten in the second half of the movie.

Jennifer Lawrence: Mystique is now a lone soldier trying to help mutants from around the world, she isn’t being bad just continuing to want to make sure all mutants get treated equal. Jennifer continues her paycheck franchise performances here never really being stand-out.

Oscar Isaac: Apocalypse is the first mutant and the all-powerful one at that, he has the ability to enhance the powers of other mutants. He wants to destroy the world bringing it back to the place where people respected and worshiped him, he puts together a team of what he sees as the strongest mutants to make this happen. Oscar is solid in this role but it could be fair to say anyone could have had this role.

Support Cast: X-Men: Apocalypse has a massive supporting cast with Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters and Kodi Smit-McPhee all gives us good performance but most of the rest struggle to make an impact with a lot playing the younger versions of the pre-existing characters and simply not hitting the levels of the previous outings.

Director Review: Bryan SingerBryan goes bigger yet again with this outing with more characters and more timelines to pull together but I do feel this goes one step too far.

 

Action: X-Men: Apocalypse has plenty of wild over the top action moments but the destruction just seems too much and unnecessary.

Adventure: X-Men: Apocalypse throws our characters into an adventure defend the world like we have seen before.

Sci-Fi: X-Men: Apocalypse has all of the different mutant powers to give us the fight we are sitting through.

Settings: X-Men: Apocalypse has the dam setting for one setting which is good connecting back to previous films but otherwise it is jut cities randomly being destroyed.
Special Effects
: X-Men: Apocalypse is filled with the special effects you would expect without being anything really fresh.

Suggestion: X-Men: Apocalypse is one for the fans of the series to watch, this isn’t one you can just pick up without knowing previous version of the film. (Franchise Fans)

 

Best Part: Quicksilver, give this guy his own movie.

Worst Part: Poor young casting of the popular characters.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Most likely.

Post Credits Scene: Yes

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hour 24 Minutes

Tagline: Only the strong will survive

 

Overall: One sequel too far that is just too much explosions and poor casting.

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The X Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

logoDirector: Chris Carter

Writer: Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter (Screenplay)

Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Mitch Pileggi, Callum Keith Rennie

 

Plot: Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) both worked at the FBI as partners, a bond between them that led to their becoming lovers. But now they’re out of the FBI and have begun new careers. Scully works as a staff physician at a Catholic hospital. Her focus these days is on a young boy with an incurable brain disease. Administration wants to give up on him. Scully, who feels a special bond with the boy, does not. Meanwhile, Mulder’s focus is on clipping newspaper articles, throwing pencils into his ceiling and writing about the paranormal. Scully and Mulder are brought together as partners again when a special case requires Mulder’s expertise and Scully is prevailed upon to convince him to help. The case involves a paedophile priest who claims he is having psychic visions regarding the whereabouts of a missing FBI agent

 

Verdict: Unnecessary Extra Episode

 

Story: The X-Files has always been hit or miss to me trying to explain the unexplainable usually focusing on alien abduction. This time we get a film to follow the show finishing and we get a psychic link, really? That is the big extra addition to a series that has asked plenty of questions over the years. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement but I would imagine the diehard fans would be furious. This could just have been a bog standard episode that no one would remember in the show, not a film. (3/10)

 

Actor Review

 

David Duchovny: Mulder exiled by the FBI discredited left to live of the radar Mulder gets his chance to come back and he ends up believing what is told to him when others don’t want to know. David gets one last pay check from the franchise before killing it, he gets to poke a bit of fun at the characters too. (3/10)

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Gillian Anderson: Scully now a stubborn doctor who will go to extreme lengths to save her patients not bad really, but re-entering the world of the x-files tests her personality again. Does come back to the level she finished the show but gives a TV performance rather than film. (5/10)

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Amanda Peet: ASAC Dakota young FBI agent trying to find a missing agent with a paedophile Priest, she brings Mulder back knowing it was a risk but knows it would be worth it for the truth. Standard support performance. (5/10)

 

Billy Connolly: Father Crissman the priest with the visions and checked past but is he telling the truth? Good performance from Connolly showing he can do a more serious role without making it all jokes. (7/10)

 

Xzibit: Agent Mosley the FBI against bring the old team back, who never once believes what is happening. Good bad cop performance.(6/10)

 

Director Review: Chris Carter – The diehard fans will not be happy with this rather boring conclusion to his creation. (3/10)

 

Mystery: Looking for a missing person is the highlight of the mystery really. (4/10)

Sci-Fi: Yeah a sci-fi film with no sci-fi. (1/10)

Thriller: Will not pull you in. (4/10)

Settings: Simple settings adding nothing to the film. (2/10)
Special Effects
: Some good special effects with the creations. (5/10)

Suggestion: Don’t bother, even if you are a diehard fan it is not worth your time. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: Nope nothing.

Worst Part: Boring

Believability: The experiment side of the story has happened but the rest is not believable. (4/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $68,369,434

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

Tagline: Believe Again

 

Overall: Boring

Rating 20