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24 Jan

Haute Review: XXX Return of Xander Cage fails to impress

Something Haute rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Action films usually have tremendous fan following, which is why they end up getting sequels and follow ups. Cases in point: Fast and the Furious, Die  Hard series, Bourne series etc. However, the sequels which may turn into franchises constantly battle between being a hit or a miss. The Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone starrer XXX: Return of Xander Cage, we fear is the latter.

Narrating the return of the renowned driving machismo of the film, aka Xander Cage (Diesel), who we saw falsely dying in a previous short related to the film series, the borderline hyper-masculine espionage master returns to the XXX programme to stop a CIA insider from using satellites as cruise missiles through a hacking device, all the while indulging himself in guns and girls.

Almost like an equivalent of Bollywood masala, the third film in the series that started in 2002 goes horribly wrong with confused dialogue deliveries, forced accents (yes, Deepika Padukone ends up sounding like Apu from The Simpsons), and mindless action that serves no purpose. If the aim was to create a no-brainer, then it works like a charm.

If that still wasn’t enough to stay away from the film, Diesel’s overtly over the top characterization, like in most of his films (cough: Fast and Furious) leaves a sour taste in the mouth. After all, how many times can one see that smug Diesel smile and not get over it? We surely are.

However, all’s not lost. Despite the film’s erroneous representation of almost everything, the purported ‘bad guys’, led by Serena (Padukone), Xiang (Donnie Yen), and Talon (Tony Jaa) are amazing in their action sequences, which makes the diverse team look palpable with explosions in the background. Not to mention, Padukone’s intense chemistry with Ruby Rose than with Diesel in the film, which surely made us cheer for a femme fatale duo.

In what started off with so much promise more than a decade ago, made us wonder if the film should have been left frozen in time and not reincarnated to create this mess. However, knowing the love for action throughout the world, there’s absolutely no doubt the film will end up raking in millions. So, if an absolute no-brainer is what you crave then XXX: Return of Xander Cage is the remedy you need!

Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Deputy Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.