Critical Review of XXX-The Return Of Xander Cage

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    • Deepika Padukone’s instinct for picking the right films has served her well lately. And there is a good chance it will extend to her first Hollywood film too namely XXX The Return Of Xander Cage. Frankly the movie is not great or even particularly memorable but it is a terrific showcase for Deepika’s captivating presence, her agility in demanding action scenes and above all, her blazing confidence. Talking about her performance, to be fair Deepika could have pull off this role with her eyes closed. Which is why it is heartening to know that she does not.

    From the bumper sticker dialogues to the stray moments of emotion, Deepika approaches the job with schoolgirl sincerity and seriousness, that one does not usually find in this kind of films. Mercifully the audience need not to remember what happened in the last two XXX outings to follow the plot of this one. Vin Diesel returns to the role of Xander Cage who is extreme sport’s enthusiasts turned government operative who was presumed dead in an earlier operation who is conveniently discovered to be alive and is recruited by CIA bigshot played by Toni Collette to recover a committed weapon of mass destruction that was been stolen by highly skilled trouble makers. Deepika plays Serina, a member of that fearless gang who tangles with Xander.

    It is a simplistic plot and one that shrewdly allows for a diverse cast presumably so the flick can appeal to the global audience. But only a few, particularly Chinese actor Dony Yen and our actress Deepika are rewarded as anything resembling a real character.

    High action star Tony Jaa is the Asian comic, Australian actress Ruby Rose, the tough chic and Bulgarian born Nina Dobrev, a pretty nerd. Curiously the film recycles many of the same themes from Diesel’s more popular fast and furious franchise. To distrust of authority figures, the murky motives of government agencies and the idea that one’s team is one’s family to name a few. But the parallels do not end there. Like those movies, the plot of this one takes the characters on a globe hopping tour plus there is an endless buffet of next to naked women permanently throwing themselves at Diesel.

    And yes, even some of the stunts look familiar. For instance, a daring free fall from an airplane. Hardcore action fans are unlikely to complain however. There is a nice scrappy feel particularly one in which Diesel pursues Yen in the direction of oncoming traffic and on the roofs of speeding cars and buses. But director D J Caruso does not restrict heavy lifting to men, giving the girls equal chance to fire heavy artillery, deliver kicks and punches and chase their rivals. Occasionally the shaky camera shooting style might set off a migraine, particularly if you are watching it in 3D. And it is a shame that the film does not give us much by way if a solid villain.

    What it does offer is a leading man, who enjoys himself evidently. Diesel plays Xander with a lightness of touch despite all the wall to wall fight scenes. It is a casual throw away and relaxed performance. And the real pleasure of the movie is Deepika Padukone. Weather landing a perfect split in her very first appearance on screen or delivering her lines without a hint of affectation or accent, she gives a lasting impression. In the end, the flick is moderately entertaining, but for the sheer pride for watching our girl add another feather to her cap, you should give it a chance.

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