xXx: Return of Xander Cage UHD Review

Mindless fun 4 Stars

Did the world really ask for the return of Xander Cage? Worldwide grosses would say a resounding yes, to the tune of over $345 million, although the US would say kinda sorta with just under $45 million. Leave your brain at the door, folks, because xXx: Return of Xander Cage is ludicrous, mind-numbing fun.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Released: 20 Jan 2017
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 107 min
Director: D.J. Caruso
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu
Writer(s): Rich Wilkes (based on characters created by), F. Scott Frazier
Plot: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.
IMDB rating: 5.3
MetaScore: 42

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 Hr. 46 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, UltraViolet
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 05/16/2017
MSRP: $49.99

The Production: 3/5

Vin Diesel, having skipped the second installment, has returned as the title character in xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Samuel L. Jackson also returns as Augustus Gibbons, who is killed by a falling satellite while recruiting a new member of the xXx team. As it turns out, someone has developed a device, known as Pandora’s Box, that can control any satellite. When the device is stolen by a rogue xXx team lead by Xiang (Donnie Yen), Jane Marke (Toni Collette) tracks down Xander Cage (Diesel), who had faked his death to retire in the Dominican Republic. Cage jettisons the team Marke assembled for him, quite literally, and forms his own team of misfits who have the skills and eccentricities to help him succeed: Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), an expert sharpshooter; Tennyson Torch (Rory McCann), a crazed stunt driver; Nicks (Kris Wu), a DJ that excels in distraction; and tech specialist and hacker Becky Clearidge (Nina Dobrev). They track Xiang to a remote island in the Philipines, and after a skirmish, retrieve Pandora’s Box. Or so they think, until another satellite crashes in Moscow, and this time someone has claimed responsibility. It’s Xander’s team against Xiang’s in a race to find Pandora’s Box and the person behind the dastardly plan before another satellite crashes to Earth.

I have not seen the first two installments in the franchise, and never had any real inclination to do so. It’s been twelve years since xXx: State of the Union, which starred Ice Cube as the main agent rather than Vin Diesel. That’s a long time in Hollywood between sequels, and there must have been a demand for this film, as it eventually grossed over $345 million at the global box office (but was a disappointment here in the States with less than $45 million in ticket sales against an estimated $85 million budget). The plot and the action sequences are way over the top, including a motorcycle chase in the ocean, but the film never takes itself seriously, thanks to the fast paced direction of D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) and the obvious fun the cast is having on screen. xXx: Return of Xander Cage is mindless fun.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

xXx: Return of Xander Cage was captured at 3.4K resolution on Arri Alexa Mini and XT cameras, then completed as a 2K digital intermediate. That DI has been upscaled to 2160p with some additional color grading using HDR10, then compressed in HEVC at bitrates that fluctuate between 24 and 104 Mbps. This is a very solid presentation, slightly better than the 1080p Blu-ray. Fine detail is improved subtly, from more defined beard stubble to now more obvious green screen work. Overall, colors are more natural and have a warmer tone to them on UHD. Contrast is also stronger, with deeper blacks and increased shadow detail.

Audio: 5/5

The UHD contains the same Dolby Atmos track found on the Blu-ray, and this is a very immersive and active track, even when played back on a 5.1 setup with additional front heights and Pro-Logic IIz engaged. The rocking score by Brian Tyler and Robert Lydecker pulses with the wider and more dynamic soundstage, and sound effects permeate every speaker with pinpoint precision effortlessly. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, never getting overpowered in the mix by music and effects. This is a very demo-worthy track.

Special Features: 3/5

All of the Special Features can be found in the included Blu-ray edition of the film.

Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns (1080p; 8:13): A brief look at resurrecting the series after a 12-year hiatus, and bringing back Vin Diesel.

Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast (1080p; 20:18): A look at the international cast and their characters.

Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location (1080p; 16:10): A look at how the film tried to stretch its budget with physical sets rather than relying on CG-created locations.

I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts (1080p; 15:17): A look at many of the film’s action sequences.

Gag Reel (1080p; 2:12)

Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy through Ultraviolet partners.

Overall: 4/5

XxX: Return of Xander Cage may be a mindless action film, but the sound mix alone make it worthy of adding to your collection.

Published by

Todd Erwin

author,editor

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