It’s been 15 years since we last saw Vin Diesel don the XXX tattoo and in those 15 years a lot has changed. The idea behind XXX was for it to be the antithesis to James Bond and it was meant to be a large franchise, just like Bond. That didn’t happen, instead we got a sequel three years after the first but this time with Ice Cube as the titular 3X, however, that was about all that changed and it’s fair to say it panned. Will this one do any better?

A sure fire way to see that a franchise isn’t quite performing as expected is when, instead of it being about one person, they begin the follow up by assembling a ‘team’. Most films have teams in them since The Avengers showed how it could be done and XXX:RToXC (not the catchiest of titles) is no different. As well as Vin Diesel we have Donnie Yen (IP Man, Rogue One), Deepika Padukone (Chennai Express, Happy New Year), Kris Wu (Mr. Six, Sweet Sixteen), Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter), Tony Jaa (Ong-bak, Furious 7), Michael Bisping (A UFC fighter who’s done a bit of TV work), Nina Dobrev (The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Chloe) and Rory McCann (Game of Thrones, Hot Fuzz). It reminded me a lot of The Expendables, except these guys are all under 50, the under 50 Expendables!

The story, such that it is, goes like this: A device has been created (one of a kind, of course) that can bypass any security whatsoever. This device has been stolen, by Yen, Padukone, Jaa and Bisping from Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding) who is the CIA boss-person. She calls in Xander to get it back who instantly tracks it down but not before someone uses it to bring down a couple of satellites crashing to the Earth. Some fighting ensues, everyone who’s bad becomes good and everyone good is bad, the end.

Obviously, you don’t watch a XXX movie for the storyline, which is useful in this instance, you watch it for the stunts. This is what XXX was meant to feature heavily, extreme sports, and we see a few in XXX:RToXC. The trouble is, it’s nothing new these days. Most of us will have seen extreme skiing (even if it’s not on snow) and people going down roads on skateboards at high speeds and parkour. It’s all been done and seen, sadly the people behind XXX have decided not to update.

Speaking of behind the scenes it’s F. Scott Frazier (The Numbers Station, Collide) who has penned this outing with D. J. Caruso (I Am Number Four, Eagle Eye) behind the camera. Neither do themselves any favours; the story and dialogue is clichéd and the action directing is nothing to write home about.

In fact, that’s probably the thing to take away from the film as a whole. It’s nothing to write home about. There aren’t enough stunts to keep you interested and when the stunts stop, the film slows to a snails pace. Yen and Jaa are underused badly, though Yen does get to stretch his legs a little towards the end. Dobrev is just plain annoying, the character that is, I think she’s supposed to be funny? It fails massively.

SPOILER

Collette looks like she’d sooner be anywhere other than here and, speaking of which, Samuel L. Jackson does appear, talking to Neymar Jr at the start (yes that Neymar Jr) and then he is killed by a falling satellite. But then, in a twist that no-one sees coming, honest, he reappears at the end having survived so that we can be setup for another XXX movie. It’s an appalling route out of a dead-end that you simply shouldn’t have put yourself down in the first place.

END SPOILER

All-in-all this is a pretty bad film that, if it didn’t have the people in it or behind it (Diesel produces), it would have gone straight to video in the old days, I think straight to streaming is the equivalent and I’d advise you wait.

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