What makes a good sequel? I feel it is the upgrade that you do to the basic idea of the original like in the case of Fast and Furious franchise. Every succeeding movie covers the previous installments, brings back the good characters, increase the stakes and never compromise on the quality. XXX series already squandered the chance when they made State of the Union, a very substandard sequel in terms of everything that was XXX. I consider it an excuse rather than a sequel. Now they are back with XXX: Return of Xander Cage.
...and screws it up again.
This one is still a few steps below the first part in every element- action, stunts, pace, suspense, plot, characters. The movie looks good, Vin Diesel is OK, Deepika and Donnie Yen are awesome. I am really happy to watch Yen getting noticed in Hollywood. He is a terrific actor. Deepika Padukone makes her presence felt. A few stunts are indeed breath taking. And that about sums up the good things of Return of Xander Cage. Ok, and the entry of Neymer in the first scene.
A gadget that can control satellites is stolen by a bunch of former XXX operatives and Xander Cage, who has feigned his death, is the only person capable of fixing the situation. He goes on the mission after recruiting some new members.
We had seen how bad the idea of recruiting new members backfired in Expendables 3. The same issue repeats. All we get is a bunch of uninteresting nitwits whom we are to suffer for the entire running time. Other minor characters are also a pain to watch.
The character introductions never reveal anything interesting and take up half the movie. By the time some action set pieces start showing, we cease to care. There was a scene that was more ridiculous than the Batman- Superman patch up that we saw last year.
Tony Jaa got a raw deal. Here is a guy who has proved that he can carry an entire martial arts movie on his knees and all he do is appear. The only relief is that his role is a tad longer than the blink-and-you'll-miss-me one that he did in that Fast and Furious movie.
The stunts come no-where near the original. While XXX was made as a fun alternative to serious spy flicks like James Bond ones, this one tries to imitate Expendables and Fast and Furious. While XXX had some great music, this one is a letdown. The plot is an excuse, no context, no suspense and totally predictable.
The only surprise twist they finally came up was to remind us of the bad aftertaste of XXX: State of Union by bringing back the guy who made it unwatchable. The better alternative to XXX: Return of Xander Cage is a rewatch of the original.