Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

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Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 107 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This sequel to the 2002 film is more of the same: Lots of pervasive but not gory violence, in the form of gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, grenades, rocket launchers, snipers, and the like; a few curse words, including one use of the f-word; and tons of sexual content and sexually themed jokes. Literally every woman but one is sexually interested in the main character, which means there are some implied sex scenes, including an orgy; many scantily clad women and women in lingerie; and various jokes and puns about sex.

‘xXx: The Return of Xander Cage’ is a movie meant to boost star Vin Diesel’s ego and nothing else. Simultaneously aggressively stupid and begrudgingly entertaining, this ‘xXx’ sequel is filler for your brain.

By Roxana Hadadi

XXXTheReturnOfXanderCage ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewVanity projects are nothing new, but “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” reaches practically new highs—and lows—of self-involvement for its star and producer, Vin Diesel.

Twelve years after its predecessor “xXx” was released, and now with the carte blanche to do nearly anything he wants because of the success of his “Fast and the Furious” franchise, Diesel goes all-out crazy with “The Return of Xander Cage.” Literally every moment of this film serves to pay homage to Diesel, and while it’s sometimes stupidly funny (he skis down a jungle; he trades barbs with smarmy government agents!), there’s a side of toxic masculinity here too that becomes exhausting. “The Return of Xander Cage” is popcorn fodder, but the kernels of amusing idiocy may get stuck in your teeth.

The film begins with the death of someone close to Cage (Diesel, of “Furious 7”), which effectively lures him out of retirement; after the events of the first “xXx” film, the extreme athlete-turned-government agent walked away from the service and into a life off the grid. But the murder of a friend and the existence of Pandora’s Box—a mega-powerful hacking device that can be used to spy on people, collect information, and drop satellites orbiting the Earth from the sky—brings Cage back into contact with the NSA, now led by the not-impressed Marke (Toni Collette, of “Krampus”).

The Pandora’s Box has been stolen by a team of super-efficient thieves led by the mysterious Xiang (Donnie Yen, of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Serena (Deepika Padukone), and despite Marke’s misgivings, Cage assembles his own team to track it down, including sniper Adele (Ruby Rose), driver Tennyson (Rory McCann, of “Clash of the Titans”), and DJ Nicks (Kris Wu). Their search to find Pandora’s Box leads them around the world, but as Xiang points out, “We just have different agendas.” Maybe he’s right, and Cage is wrong?

Haha, nope! Because at no point in “The Return of Xander Cage” is he ever at all incorrect about remotely anything; Vin Diesel wouldn’t let that happen in a Vin Diesel movie! Instead, we are told by numerous characters how “legendary” he is; a young Brazilian boy glowingly tells him “You brought the world to us” when Cage gives his village a satellite connection so they can watch soccer; the women he has sex with praise his “undercover work”; and Cage scoffs at the manpower of the NSA, asking “Do you really need all these gadgets to get the bad guys?” Because Cage, you see, only needs his sleeveless shirts, his cutoff shorts, and his kind-of-compact, not-that-muscular body to get the job done. Perhaps what is most infuriating about “The Return of Xander Cage” is the suggestion that Diesel could ever do what Donnie Yen, an actually legendary martial arts master who has been kicking butt onscreen for decades, could do. The suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

If you can look past all that tiringly toxic masculinity, though, this sequel has some hilarious moments, like when Adele protects wild lions from poachers by shooting them in the butt; when the motorcycles Cage and Xiang are racing become jet skis so they can chase each other through crashing waves; and a moment when Cage says he’s successfully solved a math problem. You might collapse from laughter at that last one.

To truly give your brain a break, “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” a sequel that so intentionally straddles the line between good and bad, will do the trick. In all of its aggressively stupid glory, this Vin Diesel glamour vehicle will at least make you roll your eyes as you scoff in appreciation of its absurdity.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Garden Fair & Plant Sale, Washington, D.C
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Johns Hopkins Spring Fair, Baltimore
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Marley Station Mall Carnival, Glen Burnie
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Muddy Creek Artist Guild’s Spring Art Show, Edgewater
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Pygmalion, Annapolis
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
Sugarloaf Crafts Festival, Timonium
Sat Apr 29, 2017 @12:00AM
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