“xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, is the third film in the xXx series and the second, though not consecutively, to feature Vin Diesel as the titular “X”. This film truly could not of come out at a worse time in order for it to be successful. It is, by all means a fun,silly movie, but is an obviously poorly thought out film. However, its charms lie in these features. It is a film I know will be not reach a high viewer rate in theater, the box office numbers are clear for that already.

It is a hard film to endorse. Every time there is a dialogue heavy scene your friend may turn to you and ask if “you like this?” But for every action scene or bizarrely made plot direction change you can turn back and say “you don’t?”. Unfortunately, xXx 3’s release date is only a few weeks prior to a more artful, eye-catching, enjoyable, and overall better action film, “John Wick: Chapter 2.”

In “John Wick: Chapter 2,” the titular hitman (Keanu Reeves) is dragged back into his old world of international intrigue and violence. In xXx 3, a similar thing happens with Xander Cage, who is forced out of pretending to be dead to save the country one last time. Between basic plot ideas and Ruby Rose playing a character in both movies, the films still manage to be different enough.

Both plots are truly inconsequential, Wick 2’s because it doesn’t need it and xXx 3’s because it’s incoherent. In all the places xXx 3 fails, John Wick 2 succeeds. In the former, plot is gotten out of the way as quickly as possible for carefully choreographed and executed fight scenes. Dialogue is kept to the minimum and we as the audience are shown, not told. The two lead performances are even polar opposites with Keanu Reeves playing Wick as nimble and light on his feet to juxtapose Xander Cage’s heavy plodding.

What is interesting about these two films is that we are seeing the death of one type of action movie. The PG-13, safe for work, heavily peppered with innuendo and a lack of blood action movie is replaced by the rise of a well shot and assembled piece of art that can go beyond action films to be, just films. While this isn’t to say that xXx 3 isn’t one of the best of its form, outside of “Pay and Gain and “The Fast and the Furious” Series, you’ll have difficulty convincing me Xander Cage isn’t one of Dom Toretto’s aliases. It is truly a fine popcorn movie. It has many flaws, many, many flaws when shown up to the light that is “John Wick: Chapter 2.” When up against the future of fun cinema that is this second installment in the John Wick series, it pales in comparison. Try to see both, if you can, but go see John Wick 2 first, then Xander Cage. That you can wait for streaming.

 

xXx: Return of Xander Cage: 3/5

John Wick: Chapter 2: 4/5