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Film / xXx: Return of Xander Cage

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"Kick some ass, get the girl, and try to look dope while you do it."

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (or xXx: Reactivated in some countries) is a 2017 American action film that marks the return of Xander Cage, from the original xXx film. It stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette and Samuel L. Jackson. The plot revolves around a group of rogue xXx agents led by "alpha warrior" Xiang (Yen) trying to find a powerful weapon known as "Pandora's Box" that would control the entire world's military satellites, and the thought-to-be-long-dead original xXx, Xander Cage (Diesel), who is brought out of self-imposed exile by the CIA in order to stop him by recruiting a group of like-minded, thrill-seeking cohorts to fight with him.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage contains examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Becky picks up a gun when cornered and manages a few lucky shots her first two tries. On the third, as she grows confident, she drops the gun. It discharges and nails everyone remaining.
  • Action Girl: Adele and Serena. Becky later has her moments in the climax.
  • Advertised Extra: Agent Gibbons. The trailers hyped him up to be one of the major characters in the film. He only appears at the beginning and the end of the film when he is supposedly killed by the satellite. His scenes in the trailers? Those are the only scenes he has in the film itself.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Played straight with Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. Averted with Kris Wu.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight with every single Mook on screen no matter how heavy the armor. Averted with Xander.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Xiang, as played by Donnie Yen.
  • Artistic License – Space: A threefer in the opening sequence:
    • When the satellite starts its kamikaze run, it comes to an abrupt halt, then near-instantly hurtles toward the surface. In order to change directions that fast, it would have to have a booster about as powerful as the one that put it in orbit in the first place.
    • When the plasma sheath starts to appear, indicating that it's entering the atmosphere, it's still in low-orbit, nowhere near the atmosphere. After a cleverly-hidden time-skip brings it much closer to the planet, it's fully enveloped in plasma, when it should only just be hitting the upper reaches of the atmosphere by then.
    • Throughout the whole sequence, the satellite's solar panels survive the sequence with no more damage than a few-dozen lost cells. Anyone who has a cursory knowledge of aerospace technology (or has played Kerbal Space Program long enough) knows that if a spacecraft or satellite enters the atmosphere with its solar panels or thermal radiators extended, nine times out of ten, the entire array will tear off all at once.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Gibbons shows up at a funeral near the end of the film, and comments on how surreal it feels.
  • Asshole Victim: Marke, considering that she was the one who crashes the satellite on Gibbons and tries to have Xander and his team killed right after he accomplishes his mission.
  • Back from the Dead: A throwaway line of dialogue in xXx: State of the Union stated that Xander had been killed by that film's Big Bad on a mission in Bora Bora. Clearly, reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Adele and Serena are this in the most literal way imaginable during the final shootout, going Guns Akimbo on the mercs like they never did anything else in their lives.
  • Badass Crew: Two of them — Xander's and Xiang's. Not really surprising once you learn that every single member is/was a xXx agent.
  • Badass Driver: Tennyson, although Word of God says they made him Drives Like Crazy to subvert most of the typical characteristics of this trope.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The first scene of Adele has her in the African plains, looking down the scope of a sniper rifle at a lion. She adjusts her aim, looking ready to shoot...then slowly moves the scope to reveal her real targets: A trio of rich hunters ready to kill the lion themselves. She gives them wounding shots to let the lion have some fun.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: None of the heroes (especially not the women) gets anything worse done to them than some tousled hair, with the exception of Tennyson who gets shot two times, but even that doesn't actually show.
  • Big Bad: Xiang, again. Turns out this is not the case, as the real villains are The CIA Director and later Jane Marke, while Xiang pulls an Enemy Mine and eventually Heel–Face Turn to help Xander defeat both of them.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Darius Stone shows up to help Xander's team kill the assassins hired by Marke.
  • Big "NO!": Donovan when Xander sends him out of a bathroom stall to his death.
  • BFG: Adele's custom sniper rifle is almost as long as she is tall, not to mention it has two scopes mounted in line. Darius' revolving grenade launcher is also worryingly big.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • After Xander disposes of Donovan, he quips, "It's gonna take two flushes."
    • When Xiang sends Marke to her death, he says, "Be sure to send a postcard." After escaping the plane and reuniting with his allies, Xiang quips, "The ground broke the fall."
    • After Darius saves Xander and Xiang's crew from Marke's assassins: "Rock. Paper. Scissors. Grenade Launcher."
  • Boom, Headshot!: How the CIA director bites it, courtesy of Adele. She also scores several more headshots over the course of the movie.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Xander's first encounter with Marke's Dragon involves the threat that he'd flush the elite soldier down the airplane's toilet. Wanna guess what happens later on?
    • After shooting Cage, Marke talks about death being "the last big adventure. Send me a postcard." When Marke stands over a wounded Xiang, he uses the exact same words before causing Marke to fall out the airplane.
    • In the prologue, Gibbons tries to recruit Neymar (playing as himself) to become the new xXx agent before they both apparently got killed by the satellite crash. At the end of the film, not only do both of them turn up alive, Neymar actually gets to become a new agent, much to his delight.
  • Call-Back: Several to the first movie.
    • Xander pulling off an over the top stunt just for fun, and to honk off the local policia.
    • Xander's Sherlock Scan at the beginning.
    • He's also still quite attached to his fur coat and explicitely demands its return before he gets going.
    • After having had his way with six beautiful women at once, he quips "the things I do for my country".
    • The one time he orders a drink, it's a raspberry soda.
    • When the Russians show up, once again there are two guys named Ivan.
    • There's a lengthy chase scene involving dirt bikes.
    • Near the end of the movie, Darius Stone shows up in the 1967 Pontiac GTO Xander utilized during his first mission. Even the headlights are still missing after they were blown out by the Stinger missiles behind them.
    • Flying a plane on what has been described as a kamikaze mission, Xander repeats his Catchphrase from the first film: "I live for this shit!"
    • Once again, Agent Gibbons is supposedly killed, only to return alive later in the movie, just like in the previous film. It's also a Shout-Out to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Samuel L. Jackson's character Nick Fury was also apparently killed but in turned out he was Faking the Dead and returned later in the film. Both Fury and Gibbons even attended their own funerals!
  • Calling Your Attacks: invoked and played with. Xander names his targets after telling the Russian leader he will be first to die. Adele makes it happen.
  • The Cameo: Darius Stone pops up during the climcatic shootout, providing a Big Damn Heroes moment with a grenade launcher.
  • Car Fu: And Motorcycle-Fu.
  • Casting Gag:
  • The Charmer: Nicks special skill is being “fun to be around”
  • Clothing Combat: Xiang, when between guns, uses his leather jacket as a weapon.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Both teams have one: Tennyson for Xander, Talon for Xiang.
  • Colony Drop: Pandora’s Box can cause satellites to be dropped out of orbit “like a goddamn tactical warhead”
  • Contrived Coincidence: Marke's plane just happens to fly a course that enables it to intercept the satellite she sent crashing down on Xander's crew, with an untrained guy at the helm.
  • Counting Bullets: Xander and Xiang do this to one mook. They even stick out limbs to make the mook waste his ammo with the latter Flipping the Bird to trick him into wasting his last bullet.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Darius Stone annihilates the remaining forces of Marke's merc army in a matter of seconds.
  • The Dragon: Donovan.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Xiang, then Anderson. Marke is the true villain.
  • Disney Villain Death: Xander kicks Donovan out of a bathroom stall. Then Xiang ejects Marke out of her plane to her death.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Becky is not just a fangirl; she forgets entirely she's supposed to be explaining her job to Xander and not only propositions him, she tells him she can get whatever drugs he wants. She also takes her sweet time strapping him lovingly into his body armor.
    Becky: My safe word is 'kumquat'.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Tennyson is a former stunt pilot who's more or less directly stated to have made it his mission in life to cause as many car crashes as humanly possible. Therefore he appears incapable of driving any vehicle without destroying it and at least heavily damaging anything he comes across while he's at it.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Michael Bisping theorizes his character, Hawk, is former SAS while Darius Stone is an ex-Navy SEAL.
  • Enemy Mine: Xander and Xiang team up to stop Marke once she takes over as the Big Bad.
  • Exact Words: When Xander's crew arrives at the island where they assume Xiang is hiding out, Xander tells Tennyson to stay in the boat. Nicks' call for backup soon afterwards is then seemingly denied by Tennyson citing that very order, only for him to flatten an enemy soldier some minutes later - with the boat, on land.
  • Faking the Dead: When Xander gets shot by Marke, it's pretty obvious he's just playing dead, given that an entire earlier scene was devoted to him getting strapped into a bulletproof vest by Becky. Seems he learned something from his mentor...
  • Female Gaze: Xander.
    • The first stunt we see him doing gives us closeups of his shoulders, back and arms.
    • After chasing Xiang on land and into the sea, he walks out of the water and removes his shirt, revealing all his muscles and ink.
    • The scene with Becky helping him into his skin-tight flexible body armor.
    • The scene where he and Serena are comparing tattoos.
  • Five-Man Band: Xander rejects Donovan and his men in favor of recruiting someone like him who he can trust. His core team throughout the film consists of Nicks (The Smart Guy), Adele (The Lancer), Tennyson (The Big Guy), and Becky (The Heart, though initially settles for The Smart Guy), with Xander as The Leader and Serena as the team's Sixth Ranger after her High-Heel–Face Turn. Though a true Sixth Ranger exists in the form of Darius Stone.
  • Friendly Sniper: Adele, at least as long as you're not a poacher.
  • Gamer Chick: Adele has a Call of Duty gamer tag in her bio.
  • Gangsta Style: Adele again, whenever she isn't handling a sniper rifle.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • Adele and Serena dual-wield pistols near the end of the movie.
    • On the CIA plane, Xiang and Xander also have a pistol in each hand.
  • Gun Kata: Xiang's appearance in the power chamber is loaded with this.
  • Groin Attack: Xiang kicks one of Marke's goons in the balls while sitting on the floor, followed up with a kick to the neck.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Serena, unsurprisingly. The buildup is so painfully obvious it doesn't even deserve a spoiler tag. By the end of the movie, Xiang's entire crew is best friends with Xander's.
  • Hero of Another Story: Darius Stone, who has a cameo appearance, is the protagonist of xXx: State of the Union.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Tens of thousands of bullets are fired at the main cast. About five of them hit - two cause Only a Flesh Wound, the others are stopped by a bulletproof vest without even bruising the wearer. The rest of the protagonists don't even get grazed.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Adele has no trouble putting a bullet in the CIA director's head by shooting through a tiny opening between Xander's fingers that measures barely one square centimeter and is millimeters away from his bald head.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Xander works Marke's crew of Uber-macho and proud Marines into a quiet rage by indicating that none of them are worth his respect because they can't do the type of stunts Cage does for fun. As a result, they are taken by surprise when he clips them all to a cargo drop with chute and jettisons them from the plane without warning.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: While under fire by mercenaries, Tennyson attempts to take them head on, unarmed, but ends up getting shot in the shoulder and the ass and has to be rescued by Nicks.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Xiang — not surprising, considering he's played by martial-arts speed demon Donnie Yen. What is somewhat surprising is the fact that Xander manages to keep up with him, although that can be chalked up to the two of them never directly fighting each other.
  • MacGuffin: Pandora's Box. Once Xander and his team finally regain Pandora's Box, Xander promptly stomps on it in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Made of Iron: Xiang crashes the top-secret intelligence meeting at the beginning of the movie by jumping from one skyscraper to the next, twenty meters far, thirty meters deep, through seven centimeters of bulletproof glass, without even getting a scratch. Many other instances occur to various characters over the course of the film.
  • Male Gaze: The camera panning down from Ainsley's head to her feet in slow motion when she steps out of the pool certainly doesn't just serve to show the viewer that she's wearing an electronic tag.
  • Memorial Photo: for Gibbons' funeral since the death in question did not leave a body...that those in attendance know of.
  • More Dakka: Marke's mercs seem to have brought a dedicated ammo truck along for the final battle, judging by how they hose the heroes' cover with an unending hail of automatic weapons fire.
  • Motor Mouth: Becky is introduced as talking so fast that Xander has to tell her to take a breath.
  • Omniglot:
    • Xander can speak Spanish and Tagalog at the minimum.
    • Xiang can speak Chinese and Tagalog.
  • One-Man Army: All Triple-X agents are this as Xander proves. Along with Xiang and Darius Stone
  • Outrun the Fireball: In the climax, Xander jumps out of a cargo plane in mid-air just before it kamikazes a satellite.
  • Power Fist: Nicks is set up with a pair of those when the mission begins, but he never gets to use them aside from accidentally punching a hole in one of the plane's walls. Marke's Dragon deploys them against Xander instead.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Becky after she trips and drops her gun that starts going off and shooting some bad guys:
    Becky: This is fucking awesome!
  • Put on a Bus:
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Xander recruits a handful of them, including a sharpshooter and a hacker, and they are all like him.
  • Ramming Always Works: Tennyson’s solution to most problems. Xander even decides the best way to stop a falling satellite is to ram a CARGO PLANE into it.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Xiang chain-punches a Mook at one point.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Xander negotiates with the crime lord running the Filipino island hideaway.
    Xander: Okay, 22 1/2.
    Crime Lord: How you gonna do the half?
    Xander: [takes a gun out of his offering] 22, [breaks the gun in half over his knee] and 1/2.
  • Rogue Agent: The entire xXx organization is rogue by the end of the film.
  • Rule of Cool: The one and only thing this film runs on.
  • Scenery Porn: The Dominican Republic sure has some breathtakingly beautiful islands and beaches.
  • Sherlock Scan: Just as in the first film, Xander figures out he's been set up as a test when a stranger leaves him a bag containing a bomb in a village square and he's surrounded by armed men. Xander punches one and then spins, firing the rifle to reveal it's full of blanks. He then relates to Marke how he figured this was a test by looking at the various people around him: A teenager is wearing expensive headphones rather than the cheaper knock-offs; a young woman is running to catch a bus that won't leave for two hours; a "cop" paid for a drink with foreign currency; and the man who left the bag struck up a conversation with Xander somehow knowing he spoke English.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During Neymar's cameo in the beginning of the film, his Suicide Squad-esque character bio pops up with one of the details being 'thinking that he's being recruited into The Avengers'. Not surprising, considering who is recruiting him.
    • The team's Cool Plane, a large black military cargo plane full of electronics and other hardware for high-level undercover agents, bears a lot of similarities to Coulson's Bus from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
      • Becky does look a lot like Simmons...
    • The entire funeral scene at the end of the movie is basically yet another shout-out to the Avengers, specifically to the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier - see the Call-Back entry above for details. Anyone else noticing a pattern here? Not to mention Gibbons' glasses now having a blacked-out lens over his left eye.
  • Smug Snake: Marke. Watching her attitude fall completely flat with Xander and his cronies provides some of the movie's best (dialogue) moments.
  • Spy Fiction: Martini mixed with an energy drink. Word of God confirms this film was made as a response to Stale Beer spy movies
  • Squee: Becky's reaction to meeting Xander face to face.
  • Strategy, Schmategy: Tennyson is so much of a Cloudcuckoolander that when put into a hairy combat situation, his course of action boils down to "I have no idea what to do, so... wait. I have an idea, and it feels crazy enough to work, so let's give it a shot!" It nearly gets him killed to no effect other than risking the life of one of his crewmates in the process.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: It's a xXx movie, so... yeah. All over the place.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: In fine xXx tradition. Especially noticeable during Xander's interaction with Marke's Dragon.
  • Throw the Book at Them: In a possible Take That! to The Bourne Series, a Mook tries to attack Hawk with a book who chides him for it.
    Hawk: You fight me with a book? Here you go brother. Chapter One. [hits mook with the book] Page One. [hits him again] Shit Happens. [hits him one more time]
  • Took a Level in Badass: Becky spents most of the final battle freaked out and cowering in cover under her equipment case. That is, until she finds herself alone and cornered by an approaching merc, with another (dead) merc's submachine gun in arm's reach. Cue There's No Kill like Overkill. She then goes from terrified to utterly excited in the blink of an eye.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The first and last trailers completely spoil Xander and Xiang teaming up in the second or third act and Darius Stone showing up to assist the team.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • The film never explains how Xander survived his supposed death in the 2005 sequel.
    • Nor does it explains how Agent Gibbons and Neymar survived the satellite crash at the beginning of the film, looking none the worse for wear.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: When Xander initially meets Marke, he openly dismisses the idea that he and Gibbons were ever friends, but when faced with the man directly responsible for Gibbons' death, after Wolff shoots the man in the head, Xander states "That's for talking smack about my friend Gibbons".
  • Your Mom: Talon uses this as a comeback at Hawk's bitching at one point.
  • Zerg Rush: The mercs sent by Marke to silence Xander's crew just keep coming no matter how many men they lose. They appear to be less than a dozen when they show up, but by the end of the shootout at least a hundred must've been killed and there are still several active squads in the field.


Video Example(s):


Augustus Gibbons

When Augustus Gibbons was presumed to be dead when a satellite hits Brazil, he shows up alive and well at the end of the film talking to the titular Xander Cage inside a church.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AttendingYourOwnFuneral

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