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As cheesy as can be expected from a Vin Diesel flick, with a lacking performance from Deepika who sadly offers little masala to spice the paneer.

 

By Shai Hussain

Movie Review: XXX Return of Xander Cage

The third instalment of the XXX series sees Vin Diesel return as extreme sports-fiend-turned-superagent Xander Cage, when a talented rogue group steal a weapon from the government which can control all the country’s military satellites.

 

XXX is pretty indistinguishable to the Fast & Furious series, Vin Diesel’s other franchise. Just trade in extreme racing and street fights for extreme sports and martial arts. Although the fight scenes are exhilarating and the camerawork on Diesel jumping off mountains and discovering his inner Marty McFly is enthralling, there is scarcely any depth to be found here.

Despite a controversial liplock (Humari Deepika? Nahin!) the chemistry between Diesel and Deepika Padukone is skin-deep. Admittedly looking the part, there’s literally nothing that brings them together other than looks. Given an item number, this would literally be a Bollywood film, but in spite of this Deepika really doesn’t across to be very comfortable here.

 

This could be due to the fact that even in her successful career in Indian cinema, she hasn’t touched on action – bar a sword fight in Bajirao Mastani. Here, she fails to give her role the femme fatale delivery it needs. When she finally busts some bullets, the John Woo-like moves come across clichéd and laughable. As a Hollywood debut it’s a real pity, as Deepika has proven time and again what an amazing talent she is back home.

Coming back to where it works, the fight choreography is a lot of fun, but this is much due to the fantastic casting involved. Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen (Rogue One, Ip Man) and Thai kickboxer – let’s not discuss the acting – Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) are indispensible and set the screen on fire with their skills, but disappointingly Hollywood actors Toni Collette and Samuel L Jackson are one-dimensional stock characters directly out of an 80s flick.

 

Support from Amber Rose as the hard-ass Australian hitgirl is entertaining, but Chinese actor-singer-rapper-model Kris Wu feels shoed-in to appease to teenage girls, being recruited into the team on account of his skills as a DJ. Being a skilful DJ myself, I can confess that even I would be useless in a team of muscle-bound mercenaries.

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As you can tell, it’s a pretty international cast and huge kudos to the brains behind getting such a pool of talent together. It’s just a pity that they don’t have much to do. When they’re not fighting, it plummets to the lowest levels of lame, not to mention the implausible chase scenes with the worst CGI this side of Die Another Day. And let’s not even touch on the Ice Cube cameo towards the end – a ‘deus ice-machina’ if you will.

 

To cut it short, if you like no brainer Bollywood masala but fancy something in English, you will love this.

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