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xXx Return of Xander Cage Review (2017) | He Shouldn’t Have Returned

Mindless action! xXx Return of Xander Cage bends laws of physics, banks on cliched action at times to deliberately showcase what its director thinks “would look cool” stunts. It has cheesy lines galore, and a really insipid plot in its baggage. The worst however remains, that instantly piercing and bothering demeanour that Vin Diesel wears throughout the flick. His smugness is the worst. It makes you go, “Is this guy for real?” Overlook Vin and you see how hollow, cliched, stupid and pointless the whole movie is.

Plot of xXx Return of Xander Cage (Spoilers)

Presumably dead the legend, Xander Cage (the one who gets on your nerves avatar of Vin Diesel) from the first one, is hunted down by CIA to bring a stolen device called Pandora’s Box back. It is a device that can ensue destruction on a massive scale, since it holds the reins of military satellites. To successfully complete the mission he hires his own team, deliberately throwing an unprepared bunch of soldiers out of a moving plane. Whaaaat?

Wait, that’s nothing. He breaks a gun, yes! a frigging gun with his knees just to prove a point! He brags a lot about himself, or let others go on and on about him, which gets on your nerves.

To make matters further indigestible, he goes on a bike chase in the sea. I repeat, in the sea! When that’s going on, you wonder if they plan on ever stopping. A water station maybe? To get some gas? They appear as if they were planning on crossing the ocean on their bikes.

The Competition

His competition is Xiang portrayed by Donnie Yen who is the guy Cage is supposed to race to get the Pandora’s box before he does. Xiang has plans of his own and a team too. Eventually both the teams end up joining hands to fight the double crossing government instead. In words of Sebastian from La La Land:

“It is all very very exciting.”

All seemingly cool frames seem very deliberately created just to prove a scene. There is one bit that shows Cage playing with grenades with Xiang and Serena (Deepika Padukone). What a way to make a conversation! *Facepalm* It is hands down one of the most forced scenes in the movie, and makes it very laughable. You know, spoofs get made because of such absurdity!

image of Vin Diesel Deepika Padukone and Donnie Yen in xXx Return of Xander Cage movie

Oh wait! Cage gets shot too. You know when in a movie hero would get shot, a voice in your head would always go, “he must be wearing a bulletproof vest? Or the bullet might have been stopped by an impenetrable object? Well the former’s your answer.

Yes, the story is as if a kid wrote it. I remember thinking all that stuff when I was five.

All the Shooting

Then there is that cliched gun fight scene too, where two badass chicks come out in the open and then shoot at random army of villains who somehow never stop coming. Yes the one where they are leaning against each other’s backs to look dope. Yeah! It’s all in there.

Just then to break the monotony, everyone’s bullets run out, and you predict the director has something up his sleeve, in comes the protagonist from the second part, which was an even shittier movie. Ice Cube comes with a grenade launcher reprising his role as Darius Stone and the music in the background turns into a rap. It is supposed to mean the “Lord is here!”

Tony Jaa gets a role of a psychotic fighter who looks like he has been on a strict Red Bull diet all his life. Nina Dobrev plays the one fun character that we have seen in so many movies before that it should actually cease to exist. But no! Every movie has it.

Deepika Padukone doesn’t cause any ripples either. She seems weirdly out of place whenever she comes to do her bit. Her icky walk to meet Xiang would make you wonder what the director must have been expecting to see, and what came out as a result. And he chose to include it too.

And what’s with the tats? The director D.J. Caruso seems like he must have been saying: We should not leave the tattoo! Let him wear a Capri so that the tattoos show!

Worthy Bits

If you still expect something cool to happen, then it is Donnie Yen’s fight bits that takes off the heat for a while. You watch him go full Ip Man on rogue soldiers and you get your money’s worth then and there with his badass action moves. Inclusion of known faces from the past, like Darius Stone too at one point makes you smile.

Amongst other worthy scenes, okay, now I am drawing a blank.

If you are a huge Vin Diesel fan, you can still watch it.

You can buy xXx Return of Xander Cage from here:

The Final Verdict

xXx Return of Xander Cage is nothing but a fully flawed flick. If you are a diehard Vin Diesel fan, and are ready to accept him in every avatar he portrays, this movie might make you happy.

To be honest, nobody remembers the first XXX movie. Now when did that happen? 15 years ago! I was a kid back then and might have mistakenly considered Xander Cage to be cool.

So far Vin has been mighty successful in the Fast and Furious series. He should stick to that. Because at least the direction and story there weaves up something worth watching. It lets us digest all the nonsensical stunts.

You can check out the trailer of xXx Return of Xander Cage here:

Bajirao Mastani Review (2015)

Bajirao Mastani is a charred historical saga fossilized under the Indian beds of parochial rules. Bajirao was a mighty warrior pestered by his own internal wars and trampled over as a social pariah.

SLB is all about the big and the rambunctious. So he took the epic project of helming the lost mercenary. The Peshwa who was on his way to rule India, but was deliberately slowed down by his fumed relationships, muck amplified more by societal manacles and religious hindrances, than by his own reckless head.

Ranveer aces the character of Bajirao to perfection. With his natural fluency that never leaves him for a second, a Marathi touch that jackhammers every raised voice with a witty comeback or an intervened split, he wears power with confidence. He is flamboyant in his ways, phlegmatic in his attitude towards a situation, and sheer terror when it comes to threatening his enemies. He dons a natural flair and applies it to everything he does something which is quite rare in Indian cinema.

That being said, SLB isn’t all quilts either. He does focus on crucial bits in the movie, however overlooks the apparent, taking the audience for granted at times. Like all the fight scenes in the flick are quite mediocre and over-exaggerated. If you are not in the rhythm of the movie, they would all seem almost indigestible. But oddly he cashes in on the audience’s emotional frequency and creates a superhuman that was a lost face in history.

The pace of the movie is outrageously fast, that does raise brows at its editing. You almost want to take a pit-stop to breathe, but then comes gorgeous conversations. Crucial, gut-wrenching dialogues that put the saddle back on the horse. The conversation between Mastani and Kashibai and the one between Kashibai and Bajirao before he goes to war (Heads up for that Krishna-Rukmini bit), hammer the nail further down your heart. Extremely stunning talks that reek of human impotency to set broken things right again!

The ending of the movie, which could have been smacked by a George R. R. Martin blow, ends up getting stretched beyond limit so that emotional Indian audiences connect. At times, the right emotions appear missing from every character’s face. There isn’t love and yet love is supposed to be there. So, we have to assume, since they weren’t exactly looking smitten.

If all of the above negative aforementioned vibes get overlooked, Bajirao Mastani ends up being a complete package. You can’t just ignore its soothing screenplay that is filled with brilliant dialogues and intercepting comebacks. They are witty, well thought of, and well researched. Some are quite cheesy as well, but they have been all mastered and well executed by the actors.

Bajirao Ballal ends as a true hero avalanched under the ruins of his own deeds. He lost one of the most crucial wars of his life, the mental one, as steeds race past him and his deadly blade, in his contorted head and he drowns a mortal instead of an immortal unstoppable warrior.

Every penny worth epic!

Piku Review (2015)

Piku is a well helmed flick.

Shoojit Sircar has a nick for touching the unconventional. Three years ago he had come up with a ballsy tale of sperms mashed up with a rib-tickling comedy Vicky Donor. This year he decided to stay close to the abdominal vicinity by taking up the poo project.

Piku is a comedy that scales human emotions superbly. It sways from dire sentiments to pathetic conventions that are still prevalent in the Indian society. The theme of the movie isn’t constipation alone. It takes the aforementioned in the backdrop merely for humor, and then gorgeously skims on the concept of selfless children taking care of their parents. In an altruistic world of their own, these minds are unknowingly paying back to the people who brought them to this planet. However, the question is at what cost? Juhi Chaturvedi’s story also makes you ponder sometimes how ungrateful people are and how some take the service provided to them by their children for granted.

Amitabh Bachchan bewitches us as Bashkor Banerjee with a power pack performance as a typical selfish oldie tormented by things in his head. Irrfan Khan is absolutely brilliant as a third person observant guy with a tolerant perspective. His unique natural reactions to societal ruckus keep portraying how a normal guy behaves to inadvertent villainy. Lastly let us not forget the protagonist Piku played superbly by Deepika Padukone. She looks perfectly lost in the constipation commotion and plays a neglected soul who simply cannot concentrate on her own life. She is dedicated, yet pissed, victimized and everything a woman of her age and position might actually be.

There are certain bits in the movie that jump to unfocused frames, with a lot of chatter that makes things hard to concentrate in the beginning. However, as the movie progresses things sediment down with perspective. At times, it seems to zero in as a casual road trip movie, however eventually the drama revives the tale. The flick buffs up owing to subtle one-liners, brooding remarks, humor and exceptional gravity.