xXx was a franchise I always believed in. It was unfortunate Vin Diesel dropped out of the first sequel, but Ice Cube did a good job with State of the Union. xXx: Return of Xander Cage was well worth the wait. Diesel is back with wonderful extreme action and a team of badasses, some new and some familiar faces, at his side.
All the lavish locations glow in HD. You could freeze frame the jungle skiing and water motorcycling sequences and make it still art for a house party. The military headquarters and meeting rooms hold up with stylized lighting and nice additional touches to stand out in fairly common action movie locations. Likewise, a warehouse shootout is full of enough debris and detail to compete with any Blu-ray shoot ’em up.
The first two bonus features recap the plot and the cast, so they are very calculated sound bite collections. It’s basically a commercial for the movie but don’t watch it first because they’ve got spoilers. One message that comes through is it’s all supposed to be fun. The defining characteristic of each character is that they’re fun to hang out with.
Locations and Stunts are more informative about how they accomplished the outrageous set pieces of xXx. You may take it for granted that those island rave parties exist. They’re all movie magic. It’s also political because Diesel helped the Dominican Republic create a film infrastructure, related to his father’s NYU program too. A motorcycle in a water tank is certainly a first. xXx is a pioneering franchise.
The four features give you an hour total, so I should be happy that a big action movie gets close to the Criterion treatment. The gag reel is a scant two minutes, the funniest of which is when some pedestrians interrupt Samuel L. Jackson’s opening scene.