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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Franchise Weekend – Fast & Furious (2009)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang

 

Plot: Brian O’Conner, back working for the FBI in Los Angeles, teams up with Dominic Toretto to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Back on Track

 

Story: Fast & Furious starts as Dominic (Diesel) is back with Letty (Rodriguez) and Han (Kang) living in the Dominic Republic stealing petrol for a living with the team. When the latest job goes wrong the team scatter with Letty being killed back in LA, while Dom is in Panama.

Brian (Walker) is now in the FBI and once again needs to find a way into a street racing circuit to take down a Mexican crime boss. Dom returns home also on the warpath eventually teaming up with Brian going undercover within the street racing circuit once again.

The job is working for Campos (Ortiz) who answers to Braga who is running drugs across the border but can they really work together?

 

Thoughts on Fast & Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian is now a Fed, which I guess makes sense after what happened in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he still has the desire to be a street racer and gets this chance working with Dom. Dom is now on the run but risks everything to come back to help get revenge on the people responsible for killing Letty. Campos and Fenix are all solid villains but never dominating like needed to make them different from what we have seen before.

Performance wise, Walker and Diesel work great together even if the film is slightly more focused on Dom’s character, the two get to poke a bit of fun about things that happened in the first film. The other performances are all good without being truly stand out.

StoryBringing the original popular characters back helps this story, we have both men coming back to take down the crime boss because we needed the respectful enemies to become friends, taking a character’s life does drive the story too because it shows we could lose someone in this franchise now too. The core story is all what we have seen before, let’s do a crime, take down crime boss and drive away.

Action/Crime/Thriller The car chases are once again bigger and better than last time out which helps the films new direction, the crime story is now our heroes taking down criminals by breaking the law but it works.

SettingsBringing the story back to LA is good because now we see the effects of the previous films on our characters, the secret tunnel across the border also adds to the action.

Special EffectsThe special effects are what we have come to expect from the franchise and they all work well this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is where the franchises got back on tracks because we get to see Dom and Brian back together working on the case to take down the crime boss, I see this as the beginning of what we know as the best chapters of the franchise.

 

Overall: Fun, mad and over the top, just the way we like it.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast of the Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, David Ayer (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine

 

Plot: Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Begins

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious starts as we meet Brian (Walker) a want to be street racer trying to find his way into the good books of street racing icon Dominic Toretto (Diesel). Earning the respect of Dom after saving him from the police, Brian finds himself welcomed into the world.

This opens the door for us to meet Dom’s enemy on the street, Johnny Tran (Yune) before we learn the truth about Brian’s involvement as an undercover police officer trying to uncover who is behind the crime spree behind the street racing thieves.

The deeper Brian gets into the family the greater the respect both sides have towards each but with his superiors running out of patience Brian must learn what is really going on before Dom’s crew get hurt.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceThe characters we have all come to love start here with Brian the undercover police officers trying to up his ranking in the police force while growing the respect of the underground street racers. Brian fits this world as the outsider as the way in for us the audience too. Dom is the alpha male of the group that everyone respects and once you earn his you become untouchable. He is the best racer, the loyalist friend and brother. Johnny Tran makes for a good starter villain who is just a racing rival to Dom. Letty is the girlfriend of Dom that does have control over him but we don’t see too much from, Mia is Dom’s brother that becomes a love interest for Brian. The rest of the characters are all small parts to the big world Dom controls.

Performance wise, you can see the draw of Paul Walker to this role where you can argue his is the bigger name for the time and he is great, in this film you can see how early into his career Vin Diesel was and he just doesn’t have the screen presence we know from him now. The rest of the cast all do well playing the parts how you would expect them to be.

StoryThe story side of this movie is easy to follow, uncover cop gets drawn to the world he is investigating because of the excitement it gives him. We have the checklist for story here offer us just flashy races to make this different than for example Point Break.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe races are all good to watch, as well are the heists being pulled off which show us both the crime sides of the story because of the illegal racing and they keeps us all on edge for the thrilling side of the story.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in LA which makes for the style the film has because it is away from the glitz and glamor of the world we know.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all here for the races and showing how certain elements of the engine work to increase speed.

Final ThoughtsThis franchise is the go to for nonsense action, but it didn’t start that way and this film shows us the street racing, beginning of a friendship and just how far these guys would go.

 

Overall: The true fans will always love this one over any sequel because of the importance this film gives us to the future franchise.

Rating

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 (2017)

Director: James Gunn

Writer: James Gunn (Screenplay) Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan, Jim Starlin, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen (Characters)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

 

Plot: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Character Building of the Galaxy

 

Story: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol, 2 starts with the guardians Peter Quill (Pratt), Gamora (Saldana), Drax (Bautista), Rocket and Baby Groot protecting the galaxy once more doing a paid job for Ayesha (Debicki). The payment is none other than Nebula (Gillan) who they aim to target her bounty, but when Rocket commits the same crime the Guardians are once again on the run.

Being saved by Peter’s father Ego (Russell) the team split up with an old friend Yondu (Rooker) the Guardians will learn more about themselves, working together and being the saviours of the galaxy again.

 

Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

Characters/PerformancePeter gets a chance to learn about his father while still trying to be the leader of the Guardians continuing on his maybe romance with Gamora. Gamora tries to continue being the strong silent type but this time gets to deal with her relationship with sister Nebula. Drax becomes the best character in the film getting all the best line with his way of life that he once lived, having a connection with Mantis. Rocket continues to deal with his wishes to be alone and not make friends seeing himself in Yondu. Baby Groot is fun for the most part getting the cute award. Yondu continues on his arc as we continue to learn he isn’t as much of a bad guy as he wants to be. The additional characters include Mantis who does get plenty of laughs with her innocent nature, Ego is also very interesting with his past becoming the interesting.

Performance wise, I feel Chris Pratt does struggle to maintain the charm he gave us in the first film, Saldana does continue to look the part of a kickass warrior though. Dave Bautista for me is the star of the film getting all the laughs wanting you to see his next scene. Cooper continues he great work voicing Rocket and Rooker does well with his increased involvement in the film. Kurt Russell fits into an 80‘s themed movie perfectly and does well throughout. If you are going to look into Stallone to be a big part you will be disappointed as he is only in one scene building his character for future films.

StoryThe story can be described in one phrase ‘character building’, I say this because we have a lot of pairing up as the good guys work with bad guys putting their differences aside to see themselves in a new light. This is the base of the story and is great for the next stages of the Marvel Universe but in the end we are left with something slightly flat with the normal big fight feeling at the end. This isn’t the best story but can entertain where needed.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is large scale but nothing new with the adventure also not being on the level of the first film, the sci-fi is all good looking at the potential universes the Guardians could have adventures in the future.

SettingsThe settings are all created to look beautiful and unique without being something of complete wow factor.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all great and it is hard to find a fault in them for the most part.

Final ThoughtsAs a huge fan of the original film, I couldn’t help but find myself slightly let down because this film does feel slow in places and too character development heavy.

 

Overall: This is a fun film and it will be important to where the film franchise goes next.

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