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!

 

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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: XXX

CAST

Vin Diesel (Riddick)
Asia Argento (Marie Antoinette)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Marton Csokas (Sin City 2)
Michael Roof (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Richy Müller (The Poll Diaries)
Werner Daehn (Speed Racer)
Tom Everett (Die Hard 2)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Thomas Ian Griffith (Vampires)
Eve (With This Ring)
William Hope (Slumber)

An NSA mission to collect information on Anarchy 99, a mercenary group of former Russian soldiers goes awry when the agent’s identity is discovered. Anarchy 99 has a biochemical weapon named “Silent Night,” missing since the fall of the Soviet Union, and NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons believes the only way to get close is to recruit an agent that would not have any ties to the United States government or any formal training that Anarchy 99 would recognise. He selects Xander Cage, also known as X, an extreme sports professional and host of his own television show, who was recently captured by the FBI for stealing and destroying a prominent California senator’s car as an act of protest. Gibbons puts Cage through two tests– stopping a staged diner robbery and escaping from a drug cartel’s plantation in Colombia during an army raid, each test seeing Cage demonstrate both his physical and psychological skills as he both defeats his foes and rapidly assesses the situation before him– and offers Cage the mission. Cage is convinced to accept the mission after Gibbons uses a carrot/stick technique, with a clean slate as the carrot and a prison sentence as the stick.Xander goes to Prague and meets with the NSA support team including Czech agent Milan Sova, who explains that Cage is only in Prague because Gibbons had put pressure on Sova and if he does anything wrong, he will be deported back to America. Cage flips this show of authority by saying that he doesn’t want to be there and pointing out that he’s never been under anyone’s jurisdiction. While scouting an Anarchy 99 party, Xander purposely reveals Sova’s cover, which allows him to gain the confidence of Anarchy 99’s leader, Yorgi. Through Yorgi’s brother Kolya, who is a fan of Cage’s show, Xander gains critical information on the military background of Anarchy 99’s members. Xander is attending a car deal with Yorgi at his invitation when Sova shows up and starts a firefight. Xander shoots Sova with a fake blood-splatter round to make it look like he is dead, which causes Yorgi to fully accept Xander as a member of Anarchy 99. Xander returns with Yorgi to their headquarters, a castle outside of the city, where he meets Yorgi’s girlfriend Yelena. Xander finds Yelena trying to break into Yorgi’s safe and, taking her to a nearby restaurant, tells her he is an American agent. Yelena gets a call from Kirill, a sniper working for Yorgi, who reveals they know of Xander’s true identity before he starts firing on them. Yelena and Cage work together to help each other escape by staging a fight between them, which results in Cage knocking Yelena out with a serving tray. Cage is then kidnapped by the NSA team and taken to Gibbons, who tells Xander to return home since his cover is blown, but Xander refuses as he fears for Yelena’s safety from both Yorgi and a planned attack on the castle by special forces. Xander learns that Sova purposely blew his cover.Xander sneaks back to the castle and overhears Yorgi’s plans to equip a waterborn drone named Ahab with “Silent Night” to release the biochemical in the middle of every major city, starting with Prague. Yorgi tests the weapon on his scientists, killing them. Xander rescues Yelena from Yorgi and kills Kolya. At a safehouse, Yelena explains she is an FSB agent, working undercover to get close to Yorgi two years ago, but six months after the start of the operation, her contacts abandoned her. Xander organises the rest of the NSA team in Prague for an assault on Yorgi’s castle. Xander himself jumps out of a plane and snowboards to a nearby monitoring station which Anarchy 99 uses to secure the castle and destroys it by starting an avalanche, but is captured by Yorgi’s forces. Xander is taken back to Yorgi, who reveals he has captured Yelena again and has known about her true identity all along. As the special forces attack starts, Xander and Yelena use the opportunity to escape, killing Kirill and Yorgi, who already launched Ahab towards the center of Prague. Xander alerts Gibbons, who has the Czech military prepare to destroy the Ahab via airstrikes with the unfortunate side effect of releasing some of the biochemical agent. Xander harpoons Ahab from the car, grabs the hard drive containing the priming and targeting information and flips one of the primed bio-warheads, causing the drone to sink underwater. Xander is rescued from the freezing river and Gibbons promises Yelena American citizenship. Xander and Yelena are relaxing in Bora Bora when Gibbons calls, telling him there is another mission. Xander ignores him and goes with Yelena.XXX is a good film, and is moderately entertaining, though considerably too long; trimmed to 95 minutes or so, it could have been an even more decent movie.