‘xXx': Appreciating the Insane, Absurd, and Impressive Stunts of Xander Cage

     January 20, 2017

xXx tells you what kind of movie it’s going to be from the start. It tells you from its Rammstein-fuelled opening scene. It tells you the moment the smirking, tatted-up hero struts into frame and zips off in a stolen car. It tells you from the very bones of its concept. xXx is a movie about an extreme sports legend recruited to be a secret agent for the American government. That is inherently goofy. It’s James Bond by way of bro culture — the cinematic equivalent of Axe Body Spray. And it works because it never tries to be anything else. Well, that and the utterly insane, over-the-top, but oh-so-impressive stunts.

For xXx, Vin Diesel reteamed with his The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen for another propane-fuelled actioner. Indeed, until the franchise was resurrected for The Return of Xander Cage, xXx was sort of the forgotten bastard child of the Furious franchise. It shares the same star and helmer, but it also shares the same basic genetic makeup: wild parties, exotic locations, babes, and daredevil stunts. But where the Furious films have a big beating heart thanks to The Family, xXx only has a big swinging set of balls, attached to a thrill-seeking rebel who likes to jump, skydive, and drive off of every highpoint he can find, which is the spirit that defines the simple joys of the movie from concept to execution.

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Image via Columbia Pictures

To be clear, xXx is not a good movie by any conventional metric; It’s tacky and thinly scripted, it’s pretty all-around awful to its female characters — sorry, character, and there’s a black hole where the leads’ chemistry should be. (I’ve seen few things more depressing or disturbing in my time than the way Diesel and Asia Argento kiss each other.)

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