xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2 stars)

Occasionally exciting but mainly tedious action sequel starring Vin Diesel and Toni Collette

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel reprises his role as bad boy spy and adrenaline junkie Xander Cage, making a grand entrance skiing down a lush green mountain in the Dominican Republic. He's still dressed like it's the early 00s and the ropey opening credits, extreme action and cheesy dialogue all unapologetically revel in the trashy aesthetic and attitude of the first film.

Directed by DJ Caruso, Return of Xander Cage hits the ground running as it speedily reintroduces rebel Xander before segueing to Donnie Yen breaking into a boardroom meeting and delivering some killer martial arts moves. Then comes Tony Jaa dodging bullets and breathtakingly whisking his enemy off a motorbike. It also ends on a high with another fantastic sequence set on an aeroplane. Sadly what's in between is merely cringe-inducing filler, with a few funny lines and a leading man who relentlessly nods back to the original.

Toni Collette as Jane Marke is the woman responsible for bringing Xander back to the secret agent business after a device known as Pandora's Box is stolen from her possession. It bears a resemblance to the contraption Moss tricks Jen into thinking comprises the entire internet in TV comedy The IT Crowd and is responsible for a number of satellites crashing into Earth. It's down to Xander to get it back and stamp it to death, but not without the help of his ragtag crew.

Pleasingly, Orange Is the New Black's Ruby Rose appears in his chosen squad as a sniper and gets to have a bit of fun playing with guns alongside Bollywood star Deepika Padukone. But for every capable woman that appears there are at least ten scantily clad anonymous ones that the camera leers over and who desperately, and inexplicably, want to bed Xander. The film is in on the joke but it's one that it just can't seem to let lie, making for eye-rolling and quite frankly tedious viewing.

General release from Thu 19 Jan.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 107 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: DJ Caruso
  • Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson
  • UK release: 19 February 2017

Xander Cage (Diesel) is back, hunting a mysterious device for CIA agent Jane Marke (Collette). Business as usual: ropey opening credits, extreme action and cheesy dialogue, and while Rose is good fun as a sniper, for every capable woman there are ten scantily clad anonymous ones who for some reason want to bed Xander.

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