REVIEW: XXX: THE RETURN XANDER CAGE

CAST

Vin Diesel (Riddick)
Donnie Yen (Rogue One)
Deepika Padukone (Chennal Express)
Kris Wu (So Young 2)
Ice Cube (21 Jump Street)
Ruby Rose (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)
Tony Jaa (Ong Bak)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Shawn Roberts (Land of The Dead)

NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons attempts to recruit footballer Neymar Jr. for the xXx program when a satellite crashes in Brazil, killing them both. Shortly afterwards, a team of four skilled individuals led by Xiang infiltrates a highly guarded CIA office in New York City and retrieve “Pandora’s Box”, a device which is capable of controlling satellites to crash at specific locations as warheads. CIA Agent Jane Marke tracks down former xXx operative Xander Cage, who faked his death and has been living in self-imposed exile in the Dominican Republic, and convinces him to return to active service to retrieve the device.After enlisting an old friend, Ainsley, for help, Cage tracks down the attackers to the Philippines. A unit of Special Forces operatives led by Paul Donovan is assigned to help Xander, but he rejects them in favour of his own team, composed of sharpshooter Adele Wolff, DJ Harvard “Nicks” Zhou, and getaway driver Tennyson “The Torch.” They are also aided by introverted weapons specialist Becky Clearidge. The team locates Xiang and his teammates Serena, Talon and Hawk, and Cage meets Xiang in an underground nightclub on a remote island, where Xiang reveals that his team are all part of the xXx program, recruited by Gibbons. He claims to have stolen Pandora’s Box to prevent its misuse, although Serena believes they should destroy it.Shortly after, Russian soldiers raid the island. The group manages to fend off the attackers, while Xiang manages to escape with Pandora’s Box. Xander intercepts Xiang and chases him to a nearby beach. Serena betrays him, destroys the Box and joins Xander’s team, while Xiang escapes and regroups with Talon and Hawk. After another satellite crash in Russia, Marke determines that the device that Serena destroyed was only a prototype, and that both teams have been wasting time, while Cage determines that CIA Director Anderson is involved in the conspiracy and that the actual Pandora’s Box is in his hands.Cage’s and Xiang’s teams race to reach Anderson first in Detroit, tracking the unique signal of Pandora’s Box, with Xander and Xiang fighting and later protecting each other from Anderson’s men. Xander confronts Anderson, who admits to causing the satellite crash that killed Gibbons. Anderson is then shot dead by Wolff. The CIA arrests Xiang in an attempt to frame him for the attack in Russia, and secures the box. En route back to headquarters, Marke announces that the xXx Program has been shut down and shoots Xander in order to keep it for herself. She then sends a group of assassins to eliminate the others, who are awaiting extraction at a local NSA warehouse. They join forces to fend off their attackers and receive assistance from another former xXx operative, Darius Stone.Xander survives due to a bulletproof vest Becky had given him earlier and joins forces with Xiang to fight Donovan and his men, while Marke uses the box to send a satellite plummeting towards the warehouse where the teams are fighting. Xander ejects Donovan from the plane, while Xiang sends Marke falling to her death and then parachutes out with the box in hand. Despite Becky’s attempts to halt the signal, they cannot stop the satellite from crashing. In a last attempt to protect them, Xander crashes the plane into the approaching satellite before it reaches the warehouse and jumps out, using the cargo load to safely reach the ground. Xiang gives Cage the device, and Xander decides to destroy it. The team attends Gibbons’ funeral, where Xander is approached by Gibbons himself, who faked his death and is now rebuilding the xXx Program on his own, starting with Neymar as the newest recruit. Gibbons compliments Xander on a job well done and Xander decides to continue in service, ready for a new mission to watch the watchers and preserve liberty.This is a great action packed trilogy of movies that has no end, this third instalment is the best yet with plenty of badass over the top action and thrills to keep any action junkie happy!

 

REVIEW: XXX: THE NEXT LEVEL

CAST

Ice Cube (21 Jump Street)
Willem Dafoe (Shadow of The Vampire)
Scott Speedman (Underworld)
Peter Strauss (License To Wed)
Xzibit (Derailed)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes on a Plane)
Nona Gaye (Crash)
Michael Roof (The Dukes of Hazzard)

In Virginia, a rancher discovers dead bodies on his farm and is then killed by assailants. The attackers use special explosives to break into an NSA bunker beneath the horse farm. Agent Augustus Gibbons fends off the attackers before barely escaping. Shavers, Gibbons’ assistant, informs him that with the attack on the NSA bunker, “Bama” Cobb also had Xander Cage apparently killed in Bora Bora. To find a new substitute, Gibbons meets with Lieutenant Darius Stone, a former U.S Navy SEAL officer, who is currently serving 9 of his 20 years sentence in Leavenworth for disobeying orders and breaking the jaw of General Deckert, who is now the Secretary of Defense.Gibbons helps Stone break out. Stone meets with Zeke, his old partner in crime, and Lola, his former girlfriend, who now runs an exotic car shop. Stone is instructed to recover a hard drive from the NSA bunker, and he manages to escape Agent Steele at the same time. Gibbons is attacked in his house and apparently killed, with Deckert and Sergeant Cobb covering up the plot. Stone meets up with Gibbons’ contact, Mayweather, to get information. Stone goes to her safe house but is framed for the murder of 4-Star General Jack Pettibone; Mayweather is revealed to be involved.The police arrive, and Steele enters and talks to Stone, who escapes afterwards. Shavers hacks into the Pentagon to retrieve Deckert’s plans. Stone infiltrates Deckert’s troops aboard the USS Independence and discovers Gibbons is not dead, but being held prisoner. Stone’s presence is alerted by Mayweather. Gibbons orders Stone to escape and leave him. After retrieving the plans, Stone gets into a tank and fights his way out of the ship. He learns that Deckert is planning a coup against President Sanford. Stone makes contact with Steele and shows him the plans. The former leaves in frustration, to Steele’s initial disbelief. During a conversation with Deckert, Steele realizes Stone was right. He finds Stone and tells him that Deckert wants to kill Sanford and his successors so he can take Sanford’s place.Stone, Steele, and Shavers enlist the aid of Zeke and his crew. Together, they rob an 18-wheeler secretly hauling guns and equipment to the Department of Homeland Security under the guise of a cheese truck. They end up hijacking a tank, and Stone helps Steele infiltrate the Capitol building. A shootout starts, and Gibbons kills Mayweather. Deckert and Cobb abduct Sanford while he is making the State of the Union Address. They escape on a bullet train. Jackson arrives with a car, and Stone uses it to infiltrate the train. He engages and kills Cobb before engaging Deckert, while Steele extracts Sanford. Stone jumps out after Gibbons destroys the train, killing Deckert. The story is covered up, and Deckert is buried and branded as a hero. Sanford awards Steele and the unknown soldier (Stone) the Medal of Honor, and Stone goes back to his former lifestyle. In the now-rebuilt NSA Headquarters, Gibbons, Steele, and Shavers discuss what kind of person the next xXx agent should be. Gibbons says that he has the perfect candidate for the job.At times the film feels more like a video game than a movie and sadly these scenes do suffer because of it. When Ice Cube races a Shelby Cobra down the railroad tracks after the Presidential Bullet Train, the fact that the helicopters that are backing him are not real really does hurt what could otherwise have been a fun, over the top moment. Instances like this are peppered throughout the film and it hurts the movie in a big way.

REVIEW: 22 JUMP STREET

 
CAST

Channing Tatum (G.I.Joe)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Ice Cube (Ride Along)
Peter Stormare (Fargo)
Wyatt Russell (Cowboys & Aliens)
Amber Stevens West (Greek)
Jillian Bell (Goosebumps)
Dustin Nguyen (V.I.P.)

 Nick Offerman (Sing)
Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Richard Grieco (Impact Event)
H. Jon Benjamin (Wet Hot American Summer)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Will Forte (The Lego Movie)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Queen Latifah (Bringing Down The House)
Rob Riggle (The Hangover)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)

 

Two years following their success in the 21 Jump Street program, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back on the streets chasing narcotics. However, after failing in the pursuit of a group of drug dealers led by Ghost (Peter Stormare), Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) puts the duo back on the program to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) – now located across the street at 22 Jump Street. Their assignment is to go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” (Work Hard, Yes, Play Hard, Yes) that killed a student photographed buying it on campus.
At college, Jenko quickly makes friends with a pair of jocks named Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), the latter being a prime suspect of the investigation. Jenko starts attending parties with the jocks who do not take as kindly to Schmidt. Meanwhile, Schmidt gets the attention of an art student, Maya (Amber Stevens), by feigning an interest in slam poetry. The two sleep together, to the disapproval of Maya’s roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell), and it is revealed that Maya is the daughter of the vehemently disapproving Captain Dickson. Despite sleeping together, Maya tells Schmidt not to take it seriously, and he starts to feel left out as Jenko bonds more and more with Zook who encourages him to join the football team.
When Schmidt and Jenko feel as if they have no clue to who the dealer is because they have no leads, they decide to pay a visit to Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle) and Eric (Dave Franco) in jail for advice on how to look for the WHYPHY supplier. Walters tells the two to look more closely as he notices a unique tattoo on the arm of the dealer in the photograph. He insists that if they find the tattoo, they will have found their man. Whilst hanging out with Zook and Rooster, Jenko notices that Rooster does not have the tattoo but sees it on Zook’s arm. Schmidt and Jenko are invited to join the fraternity led by the jocks but Schmidt refuses, furthering the tension between the two as Jenko passes all the requirements. At a counselling session, they realise that maybe Zook isn’t the dealer but was buying the drugs rather than selling them, and soon afterwards they find Ghost and his men on campus. A chase ensues and Ghost again evades the pair. Jenko reveals to Schmidt that he’s been offered a football scholarship with Zook and is unsure whether he wants to continue to be a police officer. Schmidt decides for him by telling officers on the scene that Jenko had nothing to do with the melee caused by the chase. Immediately afterwards, Schmidt moves out of the dorm and Maya finds out who he really is.
Spring Break arrives and Schmidt prepares to go after Ghost alone. Jenko asks to help so that the two can have one final mission together, and the pair head to the beach where Ghost is likely to be dealing WHYPHY. Inside a bar, they find Mercedes, revealed to be Ghost’s daughter, giving instructions to other dealers. The pair, backed up by Dickson and the rest of Jump Street, ambush the meeting and give chase as they flee. Mercedes is able to handcuff Dickson and take him hostage, pursued by Schmidt. Meanwhile, Jenko goes after Ghost. After a fist fight with Mercedes, Schmidt is held at gunpoint by her but Maya sneaks up and knocks her out. Schmidt goes to help Jenko who is now on a hotel roof in pursuit of Ghost, and inadvertently shoots Jenko in the shoulder. Ghost attempts to escape in a helicopter and Jenko jumps across to it but struggles to hold on with his injured arm. Schmidt makes the same jump and the two fall into the sea, but not before Jenko is able to throw a grenade into the helicopter, supposedly killing Ghost.
Back on land, Jenko tells Schmidt that he still wants to be a police officer as he believes their differences help their partnership, and the two reconcile in front of a cheering crowd. Dickson approaches them claiming to have a new mission undercover at a med school. During the credits, Jenko and Schmidt go on to a variety of undercover missions to different school, which are portrayed as fictional sequels, an animated series, and a toy line. One mission features Detective Booker (Richard Grieco) while another sees the return of Ghost, who survived the helicopter explosion. In a post-credits scene, Walters reveals to Eric that he’s late.
22 Jump Street is a prime example of how to do a sequel right. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took everything from the first and made it better with an intelligently creative script and a bigger budget. This is a comedy that never once was afraid to make fun of itself or the genre. You could also really tell that Hill and Tatum had a blast making this film, because it shows it in their performances. Who really steals the show is Ice Cube as he has a lot more screen time. If you are looking for a hilarious time at the movies this year, then 22 Jump Street is a must see movie.

REVIEW: 21 JUMP STREET

CAST

Channing Tatum (G.I.Joe)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Ice Cube (Ride Along)
Brie Larson (Room)
Dave Franco (Superbad)
Rob Riggle (The Hangover)
DeRay Davis (The Fog)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Holly Robinson Peete (Mike & Molly)
Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Peter Deluise (Stargate – Sg.1)
Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)

 Nick Offerman (Sing)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Chris Parnell (Hot Rod)
Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)
Johnny Simmons (Jennifer’s Body)

 
In 2005, bookish student Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and popular underachieving jock Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) miss their school prom. Seven years later, the two meet again at the Police Academy and become firm friends and partners on bicycle patrol. They catch a break when they arrest Domingo (DeRay Davis), the leader of a one-percenter motorcycle gang, but are forced to release him after they failed to read him his Miranda rights. 
The two are reassigned to a revived scheme from the 1980s (a reference to the television series) which specializes in infiltrating high schools. Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) gives them new identities and sends them to a high school to contain the spread of a synthetic drug called H.F.S. (Holy Fucking Shit). After mixing up their identities, Schmidt and Jenko are enrolled in classes ill-fitting to their personalities. Schmidt gets a lead on HFS from classmate Molly (Brie Larson) and he and Jenko meet the school’s main dealer, popular student Eric (Dave Franco). The two take HFS in front of him to maintain their cover. After experiencing the drug’s effects, the duo discover how much school has changed since they left: Schmidt’s intelligence makes him popular while Jenko’s lax attitude is frowned upon.
Eric takes a liking to Schmidt, who develops a romantic interest in Molly, while Jenko becomes friends with the students in his AP Chemistry class and finds himself becoming more interested in ‘geeky’ hobbies and media. Schmidt throws a party to gain Eric’s trust. During the party Schmidt confronts some gatecrashers and a fight ensues. Schmidt wins the fight when he smashes his assailant over the head and knocks him out. At a party that Schmidt was invited to, Jenko’s friends hack Eric’s phone and overhear information about an upcoming meeting between Eric and his supplier, but also catch Schmidt making disparaging comments about Jenko.
The rift between the two grows as their new school life invades upon their official police work. Schmidt and Jenko track Eric to a money exchange with the distributors of HFS – the motorcycle gang from the park – and a chase ensues on the freeway. Schmidt hesitates firing his gun upon the gang members and they return to school arguing, the ensuing fight interrupting the school play. The two are expelled from school and are removed from the Jump Street program.
A stressed and terrified Eric later approaches Schmidt and Jenko retelling the freeway encounter, unaware of their role in it. He recruits them as security for a deal taking place at the school prom. While dressing for the prom they begin to help each other and rekindle their friendship. At the prom, Schmidt finds Molly doped up on HFS. He reveals his true identity and begs her to leave. At the deal Schmidt and Jenko are surprised to find that the supplier is the physical education teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle). He tells them that he made the drug by accident by mixing chemicals stolen from the school chemisty labs with Cool Ranch Doritos and started selling it to the students to supplement his teacher’s salary. And after he caught Eric smoking marijuana he was able to blackmail him into being his dealer.
The motorcycle gang arrives for the deal but Molly interrupts and starts arguing with Schmidt and the motorcycle gang leader recognises Schmidt and Jenko as cops. A Mexican standoff ensues in which Domingo orders his men to kill Schmidt and Jenko. Two of the gang members reveal themselves as undercover DEA agents Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall (Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise reprising their original roles). In the ensuing gunfight Hanson and Penhall are fatally wounded. Mr. Walters and Eric escape in a limo with the money and Molly as a hostage; the gang, Schmidt and Jenko follow close behind in their own limo with Schmidt driving and Jenko shooting his gun from out the sunroof.
As the car chase winds through the city, Jenko creates a homemade bomb using knowledge garnered from chemistry classes and tosses it into the one-percenters’ limo, blowing it up. Mr. Walters pulls over and attempts to flee on foot with Molly as his hostage. He shoots at Schmidt but Jenko takes the bullet in his arm, saving his partner’s life. In response, Schmidt shoots Mr. Walters, unintentionally severing his penis. The duo successfully read Walters his Miranda Rights (in unison). As they arrest both the teacher and Eric, the two cops reconcile their relationship. The two officers are congratulated and reinstated in Jump Street as Dickson gives them a new assignment: infiltrating a college.
Based on the 80′s television series created by Stephen J Cannell. A thing that makes 21 Jump Street not just some remake, is that the creator of the original television series, Stephen J Cannell (A-Team, Rockford Files, Hawaii Five-O) produced the film. The television show is his baby, so he actually had a say in the final product. The screenplay was written by Jonah Hill. The number one thing that makes 21 Jump Street funny is the pairing up of Jonah Hill  and Channing Tatum in this polar opposite, role reversal, buddy cop movie. Also credited as the film’s executive producers, Hill and Tatum make for a funny odd couple. If you like comedies in the spirit of Superbad, Police Academy, and Step Brothers, then you’ll love 21 Jump Street. I can’t recommend it enough

REVIEW: GHOSTS OF MARS

CAST

Natasha Henstridge (Species)
Ice Cube (21 Jump Street)
Jason Statham (Spy)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Pam Grier (Jackie brown)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Robert Carradine (Escape From LA)
Marjean Holden (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
Rex Linn (Cliffhanger)
Peter Jason (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom)

25-sabrina-lede.w700.h700The plot involves a squad from the Martian Police Force doing a prisoner transfer from a mining colony. Mars, it seems, is run by the “Matronage”, a kind of Lillith-Fair dictatorship, which is a neat twist and gives some original zip to the movie. The transfer is quickly forgotten, as some sort of primal ghostly force is possessing the locals and turning them into a blood-crazed cabal of body-pierced mutilation enthusiasts. The throngs are led by a bulked-up Maximum Leader who looks like Marilyn Manson’s steroid-pumped older brother. The cops and criminals join forces with the contents of the Hollywood Gun Shop, and mow down the screaming hordes in an effort to escape.The intriguing setting, the impressive visuals, and some creepy early scenes build up a lot of audience goodwill, which the film then chips away at relentlessly, as if willing itself to mediocrity. The narrative is clumsy, with way too much reliance on flashback. The story itself is primarily told in flashback, which is understandable even if it does reveal too much about what’s about to happen. But do we really need flashbacks within the movie to show us things we’ve already seen? There are also too many pointless camera tricks, such as time-lapse dissolves in scenes that don’t merit them.The only standouts in the cast are Jason Statham as the weary (but horny) sergeant, easily the most tactically competent of the MPF contingent, and Ice Cube as the prisoner whose transfer is in such turmoil. Mr. Cube’s unfocused, pinch-faced rage and dumbfounded bravado are pitch-perfect, and he has all the funniest lines.


Ghosts of Mars will not rank among John Carpenter’s best work  but despite its deficiencies I enjoyed it. Carpenter still has it, and when he’s good, he’s very good. Desperate-survival-against-the-murderous-armies has a primal power as a story archetype, and there’s plenty of gun-blazing, head-bashing, flying-buzzsaw-dismemberment fun to be had by all. The music’s pretty good, too. And there’s something about Henstridge and Duvall in black leather SWAT uniforms that just pushes a button somewhere. Maybe it’s just me.