ABC Film Challenge – Action – X – XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) Revisited

When I first reviewed XXX: Return of Xander Cage it got a 7.1.

Director: 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, Rory McCann, Toni Collete, Samuel L Jackson

 

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.


Tagline – Guns, girls, global domination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Popcorn Film

 

Story: XXX: Return of Xander Cage starts when Gibbons (Jackson) is killed by a falling satellite, CIA know the one device which could have caused this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ a device capable of taking satellites out of the sky turning them into warheads. Xiang (Yen) and his team Serena (Padukone), Talon (Jaa) and Hawk (Bisping) steal Pandora’s Box right from under the CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette) hands.

Jane is forced to turn to long thought dead Xander Cage (Diesel) to return Pandora’s Box, with his own team of Adele (Rose), Tennyson (McCann) and Nick (Wu) to travel the world to even the odds in the fights that will go around the world.

 

Thoughts on XXX: Return of Xander Cage

 

Characters – Xander Cage has returned from the dead, the extreme sport lover is bought back in for a new mission which will see him take on the deadly Xiang as his team of elite fighters. He uses his connections to get the mission complete, with his extremes sports to escape the situations he finds himself in. Xiang has led a team to steal the Pandora’s box, he is highly skilled and went through his own XXX recruitment program. His plans might not be as evil as first thought. Serena works for Xiang, she has the same background as Xander, working on the rebellious good guy nature. Adele is one of Xander’s team, she hunts hunters with her sniper skills. Jane Marke works for the CIA and needs recruit Xander to return the stolen weapon, she isn’t as friendly as Gibbons as she knows the stakes. We get the generic side characters too, each having their moment to help the mission.

PerformancesFirst thing before we get into the complete conversation on performances, we must praise the international cast, which sees actors from around the globe join forces. Vin Diesel is the leading role does better than I first gave him credit for, this is every you would expect from him. Seeing Donnie Yen stepping into an American movie is great because we get to see his fighting skills in action. Deepika Padukone steps away from Bollywood for her first Hollywood role never looking out of place in the action heavy role. We do have a wonderful supporting cast that includes Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Rory McCann and Toni Collette each getting to show off their time on screen.

StoryThe story brings Xander Cage back from the dead as he must lead a team in an attempt to return a stolen device which could be used as a weapon against the world. let’s be honest, we don’t need the deepest story because this is a film used to showcase the combat abilities of the cast, needing to keep the story nice and simple, good guys need to get device back before devastation could happen. We have a few twists along the way and we do get to build upon the universe that XXX operates in. this is one you can switch your brain off and enjoy.

Action/AdventureThe action is massive with fights, stunts and chases going on through the film which is a joy to watch if you want to switch your mind off, physics might well be out the window, but extreme sports fans will enjoy. The adventure side of the film takes us around the world as the mission is put into play.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show different locations that the XXX team would be operating in, be it hiding or willing to fight in.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Ice Cube’s role is mostly wasted.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the action films you can just switch on and switch off to enjoy the action unfold.

 

Overall: Pure popcorn action blast.

Rating

 

 

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Departures (2019)

Director:  Peter Hutchings

Writer: Fergal Rock (Screenplay)

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams, Nina Dobrev, Ken Jeong, Tyler Hoechlin, David Koechne, Peyton List

 

Plot: A hypochondriac working as an airport baggage handler is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list.


Tagline – Living in the moment is hard to do alone.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Rollercoaster

 

Story: Departures starts as we see Skye (Williams) receives the news that her terminal cancer isn’t giving her much more time, even though she takes the news positively. Meanwhile teenager Calvin (Butterfield) believes he has cancer with his hypochondriac state, even though every test says he is completely fine.

Calvin attends cancer support groups where he meets Skye, who wants a ‘To Die List’ which sees Calvin reluctantly help Skye complete, even though he can’t find the courage to tell her the truth, even though she is teaching him to live hi life more, than he could ever imagine.

 

Thoughts on Departures

 

Characters – Calvin is a hypochondriac luggage handler, he goes through tests believing he is ill even though every test says he is fine. He attends cancer support groups in a hope to get prospective of his mindset, only to meet cancer victim Skye who brings him out of his shell, he goes from shy to outgoing through his time with Skye. Skye is a British teenager that has been given the terminal diagnosis for her cancer, she has gotten to the stage where she just wants to make the most out of her remaining life, which sees her befriend Calvin, mostly because he is the only friend she can find in the world, using humour as her biggest defence to what is going to happen to her. Izzy is a flight attendant that has been having no luck in love until she meets Calvin and sees a different type of guy in him. The remaining characters we meet include the parents that have been through their own problems, two random police officers that end up helping the two complete the goals which will get the laughs.

PerformancesAsa Butterfield takes the leading role here and over the past for years he has handle a few of the teenage coming of age roles, he has never put a foot wrong with his own performances in these, with this film once again showing him to be a big talent in the future. Maisie Williams steps out of Game of Thrones to a role that is full of energy, which should be lower in her character, to show us a character that just wanted to live life to the fullest. Nina Dobrev is the best of the rest, with the supporting cast getting their moments when needed for an extra emotional moment or a laugh.

StoryThe story follows a teenage girl that is going to die who befriends a teenage boy that is scared he is going to and the two help each other learn to make the most of their life, through their time together. The story doesn’t hide any facts about the two characters from the audience, which with other films using the same subject matters have used as a late twist in the film. This story is about friendship, adventure, enjoying life and taking chances. While the story might be easy to read just where everything is going to go, you will still need to bring the tissues for this film.

Adventure/ComedyThe adventure elements used in this film are a lot simpler than you would imagine, this is because we get to see how Calvin learns to make life an adventure instead of being scared about what could happen. The comedy in the film is handled tastefully, I have always seen people say ‘you can’t have comedy in a cancer film’ this comedy comes from seeing how Skye is dealing with everything, she wants to laugh and not feel sorry for herself.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, using the airport as one of the main backdrops, elsewhere we see how Calvin ends up going places he never would have considered until he met Skye.


Scene of the Movie –
The real list.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I am going to pick timescale, not sure if it was days weeks or months.

Final ThoughtsThis is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, it will make you laugh, smile and cry, sometimes in the same scene.

 

Overall: Must watch with tissues.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake – Flatliners (2017)

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Writer: Ben Ripley (Screenplay) Peter Filardi (Story)

Starring: Nina Dobrev, Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Keifer Sutherland, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Beau Mirchoff

 

Plot: Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife.


Tagline – Cross the line. Death will follow you back.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Full Blown Flatliner

 

Story: Flatliners starts as medical student Courtney (Page) wants to push the boundaries of science by seeing if there is an afterlife using fellow students Jamie (Norton) and Sophia (Clemons) to bring her back, but when it goes wrong Ray (Luna) and Marlo (Dobrev) get involved.

When Courtney seems to have increased memory pulling ability Jamie, Marlo and Sophia all go under the flatliner procedure. Soon after they have all gone under the start getting haunted by a previous mistake and must learn how to deal with their sin.

 

Thoughts on Flatliners

 

Characters – Courtney is the student that has planned the idea of flatlining, she has her own reasons for this which we learn in the opening sequences, as her haunting is her own sister that died in a car accident. Ray is the best doctor of the students, he has the experience to handle the emergency world of being a doctor but he never goes under the flatliner, he helps bring the others out and helping them solve their problems. Marlo comes off as the nervous student struggling to believe her own abilities which becomes clear when we see her mistake, where she must learn to make up for her errors. Jamie is the slacker rich boy student that gets by using other skills to keep him in school. Sophia comes from the hardest background, her mother has been pressure into this career by her mother meaning she will lose everything her mother has put into this career. The biggest problem with these characters is that they have zero chemistry between them.

PerformancesThe performances here are pretty bad, it doesn’t help that the characters are written terribly, we do have big names here but they just can’t capture the magic the original film performances had.

StoryThe story here focuses on trying to discover is there is an afterlife by flatliner for minutes to go on that journey, this is still an interesting concept because technology has come along way since the original and we still don’t know the answer. The problem is we rush the flatlining which seems to turn the characters into what feels like addicts on the rush of their lives. We then get the 4 characters that have done something wrong being haunted but we ruin the biggest question mark about Courtney’s in the opening sequence and the rest just seem too much ‘boo there is a spirit’ not using the reason of the sin as the haunting like the original. This is why remakes fail so badly.

Horror/Sci-fiThe horror is the most basic of jump scares you will see, none of them hit. The sci-fi side starts promising but then the film seems to forget there is a sci-fi element after the researching goes on.

SettingsWe are in a generic hospital which for some reason you can run the length of within a minute, you drive to anywhere within a minute and geographical doesn’t make sense, we also are filled with flaws surrounding the settings.

Special EffectsThe effects can look great in the flatlining stage of the film but soon end up being the same nonsense light effects.


Scene of the Movie –
First trip into the flatlining.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How do they get everywhere so quickly?

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Don’t think so.

Award Nominations: This could easily be a leading Razzie contender.

Final ThoughtsThis is an horrendous remake of a loved original, it turns into a basic poorly made exercise in how to not do jump scares with characters that have zero chemistry and a plot that is rushed together.

 

Overall: Failure in the remake world.

Rating

 

 

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.

Ratingcard

 

 

The Final Girls (2015)

final girlsDirector: Todd Strauss-Schulson

Writer: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller (Screenplay)

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Nina Dobrev, Malin Akerman, Alia Shawkat, Chloe Bridges, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, Angela Trimbur, Cory Hart, Dave Davis, Bryce Romero

 

Plot: A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Horror Comedy

 

Story: The Final Girls starts as Amanda Cartwright (Akerman) a famous slasher star from the 80s and now a single mother of Max (Farmiga) is struggle to find work in the modern era of cinema. But this is a horror film and we need a tragedy which is Amanda dying in a car crash.

Three years later Max is at college age struggling through when her step-brother Duncan (Middleditch) and her best friend Gertie (Shawkat) talk her into a special screening of her mother’s cult film Camp Bloodbath along with an old friend Vicki (Dobrev) who is the total diva. At the screening a freak fire leads the friends running for their lives only to find themselves inside the movie.

When the friends find they can be killed they must come up with a plan not only to survive but get out of the movie alive.friends

The Final Girls mixes the idea of horror and comedy perfectly to make this one of the best original ideas in recent years. The concept of having a film within a film works because we get to see how different the teenagers of two different generation clash. The idea of half the cast knowing where the film will go but try to change it gives the film a time travel element too. The fact this has a comic tone it also manages to have a serious tone. This is an original story that really works well making this one that is very enjoyable.

 

Actor Review

 

Taissa Farmiga: Max Cartwright is the daughter of a former scream queen, after her mother dies she finds herself alone in the world. After getting talked into a screening of her mother’s cult film she finds herself inside the movie getting to spend time with her mother and potentially change her career while trying to save her friends. Taissa is good in this leading role.

Nina Dobrev: Vicki is the diva of the friends, she used to be best friends with Max but the two had become distant. She is the bitchy friend which she understands would make her one of the easy victims in the film. Nina is good in this role where she is perfect fit for the role.

Malin Akerman: Amanda Cartwright/Nancy, Amanda is the mother of Max who died early on Nancy is the character in Camp Bloodbath that Max gets to spend time with as they try to change the script. Malin does a good job in this role where she does take dual roles.

Alexander Ludwig: Chris is the guy that has the hots for Max, he comes off very nervous but supportive to Max. his ex-girlfriend is Vicki turns up at the screening. He gets stuck in the movie too where he must help to protect the girls. Alexander is good in this role fitting the leading male character.  

Support CastThe Final Girls has the supporting cast you would expect to see in this style of film which all work out brilliant with Angela Trimbur and Adam Devine stealing nearly every single scene.

Director Review: Todd Strauss-SchulsonTodd gives us a horror comedy that comes off original while paying the respect to the 80s movies.

 

Comedy: The Final Girls is filled with laughs poking plenty of fun at the genre without being a parody.

Horror: The Final Girls pays respect to the horror side of the story without being scary.

Settings: The Final Girls puts most of the film in the camping grounds and is trapped in the area with a different idea because instead of being isolated we get the trapped idea.
Special Effects
: The Final Girls has great effects used through the film when needed be it with the kills or change between era.

Suggestion: The Final Girls is one that all horror fans should watch, this is one of the most original ideas in film. (Horror Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Tina is hilarious.

Worst Part: Nothing too much.

Funniest Scene: Tina trying to escape.

 

Believability:  No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Hopefully.

Post Credits Scene: Bloopers.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

Overall: Brilliant horror comedy with laughs around every corner.

Ratingcard