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xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a vintage Diesel film with thrills

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Film: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Cast: Vin Diesel, Samuel L Jackson, Deepika Padukone, Toni Collette, Nina Dobrev, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Al Sapienza

Director: D. J. Caruso


Anything but serene, gorgeous, gorgeous Deepika Padukone sizzles as a femme fatale in Vin Diesel’s latest action thriller in which his screen character, the gravelly voiced government operative named Xander Cage is left for dead after an extreme incident. But you can’t keep a good man down for long and presumed dead, he bounces back for a new assignment with his CIA handler Jane Marke (Toni Collette, lean and mean) since Augustus Eugene Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) opened Pandora’s Box after kicking off the film with an explanation of the program and why he does what he does.

The Return of Xander Cage is vintage Vin Diesel and offers the customary thrills and spills; babes and brawn of its predecessors. What’s new? A literally stunning cameo (staring a star footballer), which sets the tone of the film: which is, in sum, funny (on occasion) and frenetic (mostly frenetic). Actually, a more apt word would be “breathless” with apologies to Godard. By the way, is Diesel (spouting sage advice to kids) doing his own stunts? Or a stuntman? Never you mind.

Most of Diesel’s tried and trusted cast from the crowd-pleasing franchise are here with outlandish names and notable additions Padukone and Toni Collette. Then there’s Hong Kong action star Tony Jaa (sensational as the warrior Buddhist monk in Assassin). The set action pieces and fight scenes are expertly choreographed and hurrah, Darius Stone (Ice Cube) shows up when mayhem erupts. And oh, the hard rock soundtrack of the hard core action segues into two of my fave rave songs, Oh Happy Day and What a Wonderful World.