xXx Review

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone in “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” that has premiered in India. (Manav Manglani photo)

MUMBAI—We are reviewing this Hollywood fare for two reasons: one, the film’s global release has first happened in India, and two, it stars our A-list actor Deepika Padukone.

Addicts of the “xXx” series and Vin Diesel fans are likely to love this absurd and illogical maelstrom of typical Hollywood (hyper-)action, in which Xander Cage (Diesel) has to save the world. There is a basic plot: Considered dead for years, Cage is summoned through a fake action sequence designed to test him for a global mission.  The aim: to recover Pandora’s Box, a device that can unleash terrible destruction using satellites. Cage would rather choose his own team: Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his trained mercenaries, derived from multiple professions, nationalities and even shapes!

An orgasm of action is unleashed that can neither be replicated in Indian cinema thanks to the budgetary constraints of Indian cinema, nor digested by our ivory-tower critics if they were to be staged. Everyone goes through the motions of acting and action, helped by fantastic technology, tight action spectacle and choreography and what-not. Of course, the plot cannot do without the usual double-crosses.

Diesel charms with his persona, his lovely smile and his one-liner-like remarks. Padukone is alright in an undemanding role and does the action pieces like a pro. Standing out in the rest of the cast are Samuel L. Jackson as Gibbons (in a cameo), Toni Collette as the woman who commissions Diesel, the cute Nina Dobrev as a very Preity Zinta-like hacker who provides the comedy in the action sequences, and the sharp-featured Ruby Rose as sharpshooter Adele. Kris Wu as Nicks scores best among the rest.

At 109 minutes, the film is merely a time pass fare. One down now, and one more Indian superstar (Priyanka Chopra in “Baywatch”) to go. Padukone is good, but the film is no big deal.

Rating: **1/2

Paramount Pictures, One Race Films, Revolution Studios & Roth Kirschenbaum Films in association with Viacom 18 Motion Pictures present "xXx: The Return of Xander Cage"

Produced by: Vin Diesel, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth and Samantha Vincent

Directed by: D.J. Caruso

Written by: F. Scott Frazier

Music: Robert Lydecker & Brian Tyler

Starring: Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone, Ruby Rose, Donnie Yen, Nina Dobrev, Kris Wu, Tony Jaa, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Samuel G. Jackson and others.

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