XXX: Return of Xander Cage

Kick some ass, get the girl, and try to look dope while you’re doing it.

Vin Diesel landed with a bang when he launched the character of extreme-sports-athlete-turned-secret-agent Xander Cage in 2002’s xXx. A scruffy, streetwise answer to the suavity of James Bond, Diesel’s bruiser of a spy proved a hit with audiences but failed to launch the cinematic franchise Hollywood was expecting.

Indeed, Diesel had bailed by the time it came to the underwhelming sequel, replaced by Ice Cube for 2005’s xXx2: The Next Level, and the would-be series sputtered to a halt. Since then, however, the world has fallen in love with Diesel’s brand of big, dumb action movies – witness the unstoppable success of the Fast & Furious films. Which means it’s time to bring Xander back from the dead and hurl him into another adventure, dispatched by Toni Collette’s hard-as-nails spy chief to retrieve a top-secret gizmo that can send satellites plummeting lethally to earth.

xXx- Return of Xander Cage Donnie Yen, Vin Diesel Deepika Padukone

His new mission in xXx: Return of Xander Cage is as big and dumb as anyone could wish – but this time it’s not a solo affair. Taking a leaf from the Fast and Furious book, the movie has Diesel’s hero recruit a multinational crew of outlaws – including Ruby Rose’s crackshot sniper and Rory McCann’s dementedly reckless stunt driver.

They are up against a similarly multiethnic gang – a sign of the film’s global box-office ambitions – whose members include Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, Thai martial arts icon Tony Jaa and, most charismatic of all, Hong Kong star Donnie Yen.

The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense, but the audacious silliness of the action sequences will put a smile on most faces. Indeed, the outrageous cheek of the action sequences actually brings to mind Roger Moore-era Bond.

Diesel’s cocky maverick, on the side of the rebels rather than the establishment, is the antithesis of Bond in so many ways, but he is winking at the camera just like Moore did. And they both share a relish for ridiculous gadgets. Moore’s 007 had a car that turned into a submarine; Xander has a motorbike that transforms into a jet ski.

Certificate 12A. Runtime 107 mins. Director DJ Caruso

xXx: Return of Xander Cage debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Friday 29 September.