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XXX: Return of Xander Cage

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XXX: Return of Xander Cage
Xxx return of xander cage film poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byD.J. Caruso
Written byF. Scott Frazier
Based onCharacters
by Rich Wilkes
Produced by
CinematographyRussell Carpenter
Edited by
  • Jim Page
  • Vince Filippone
Music by
Distributed byParamount Pictures[4]
Release dates
  • January 5, 2017 (2017-01-05) (Mexico City)
  • January 20, 2017 (2017-01-20) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes[5]
CountryUnited States[6]
Budget$85 million[5]
Box office$346.1 million[5]

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (released as XXX : Reactivated in some countries) is a 2017 American action thriller film directed by D.J. Caruso and written by F. Scott Frazier. The film stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette, Ariadna Gutiérrez, Hermione Corfield, and Samuel L. Jackson. It is the third installment in the XXX film series and a sequel to both XXX (2002) and XXX: State of the Union (2005).

Paramount Pictures, taking over distribution from Columbia Pictures, released the film on January 20, 2017, in 2D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D. This marks the first film produced by Revolution Studios since The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep a decade earlier, and the first Paramount film to be co-produced by Revolution since 2007's Next. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $346 million worldwide against a production budget of $85 million, making it both the franchise's and Revolution Studios' highest-grossing film.[7]


NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons attempts to recruit footballer Neymar for the Triple-X (XXX) program when a satellite crashes, apparently killing them both. Shortly afterwards, a team of four skilled individuals led by Xiang infiltrate a highly guarded CIA office in New York City and retrieve "Pandora's Box", a device which is capable of controlling satellites to crash at specific locations as warheads. CIA Agent Jane Mark tracks down former xXx operative Xander Cage, who faked his death and has been living in self-imposed exile in the Dominican Republic, and convinces him to return to active service to retrieve the device.

In London, after enlisting an old friend, Ainsley, for help, Xander tracks down the attackers to the Philippines. At an RAF outpost in Lakenheath, a unit of Special Forces operatives led by Paul Donovan is assigned to help Xander, but he rejects them in favour of his own team, composed of sharpshooter Adele Wolff, DJ Harvard "Nicks" Zhou, and getaway driver Tennyson "The Torch". They are also aided by introverted weapons specialist Becky Clearidge. The team locates Xiang and his teammates Serena, Talon and Hawk, and Xander meets Xiang in an underground nightclub on a remote island, where Xiang reveals that his team are also xXx agents, recruited by Gibbons. He claims to have stolen Pandora's Box to prevent its misuse, although Serena believes they should destroy it.

Shortly after, Russian soldiers raid the island. The group manages to fend off the attackers, while Xiang manages to escape with Pandora's Box. Xander intercepts Xiang and chases him to a nearby beach. Serena betrays him, destroys the Box and joins Xander's team, while Xiang escapes and regroups with Talon and Hawk. After another satellite crash in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Mark determines that the device that Serena destroyed was only a prototype, and that both teams have been wasting time, while Xander determines that CIA Director Anderson is involved in the conspiracy and that the actual Pandora's Box is in his hands.

Xander's and Xiang's teams race to reach Anderson first in Detroit, tracking the unique signal of Pandora's Box, with Xander and Xiang fighting and later protecting each other from Anderson's men. Xander confronts Anderson, who admits to causing the satellite crash that killed Gibbons. Anderson is then shot dead by Wolff. Xander reluctantly allows the CIA to arrest Xiang in an attempt to frame him for the Moscow attack, and they secure the box. En route back to headquarters, Mark announces that the XXX Program has been shut down and shoots Xander in order to keep it for herself. She then sends a group of assassins to eliminate the others, who are awaiting extraction at a local NSA warehouse. They join forces to fend off their attackers and receive assistance from another former XXX operative, Darius Stone.

Xander survives due to a bulletproof vest Becky had given him earlier and joins forces with Xiang to fight Donovan and his men, while Mark uses the box to send a satellite plummeting towards the warehouse where the teams are fighting. Xander ejects Donovan from the plane, while Xiang sends Mark falling to her death and then parachutes out with the box in hand. Despite Becky's attempts to halt the signal, they cannot stop the satellite from crashing. In a last attempt to protect them, Xander crashes the plane into the approaching satellite before it reaches the warehouse and jumps out, using the cargo load to safely reach the ground. Xiang gives Xander the device, and Xander decides to destroy it. The team attends Gibbons' funeral, where Xander is approached by Gibbons himself, who faked his death and is now rebuilding the XXX Program on his own, starting with Neymar, who also faked his death, as the newest recruit. Gibbons compliments Xander on a job well done and Xander decides to continue in service, ready for a new mission to watch the watchers and preserve liberty.


  • Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, an extreme athlete turned xXx field agent who was believed to have died.
  • Donnie Yen as Xiang, a xXx agent who heads a team trying to secure Pandora's Box
  • Deepika Padukone as Serena Unger, formerly supported Xiang
  • Kris Wu as Nicks, full name Nicky Zhou, a guy who supports Cage; he is also a DJ nicknamed "The Hood"
  • Ruby Rose as Adele Wolff, a main sharpshooter who supports Cage
  • Tony Jaa as Talon, supports Xiang
  • Nina Dobrev as Becky Clearidge, former assistant of Gibbons and weapons specialist assigned by Marke to provide technical weapons and equipment support to Cage.
  • Toni Collette as Jane Marke, CIA agent lead who brings in Cage for the job
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Augustus Gibbons, founder of the xXx program and also NSA field agent who originally recruited Cage
  • Rory McCann as Tennyson Torch, a getaway driver who supports Cage; he keeps a record of the number of times he drives a vehicle to crash into things (which reaches 200)
  • Hermione Corfield as Ainsley, a close ally of Cage who lives in London.
  • Tony Gonzalez as Paul Donovan, Special Forces operative working for Marke[8]
  • Michael Bisping as Hawk, supports Xiang

Ice Cube reprises his role from XXX: State of the Union as xXx agent Darius Stone. Professional footballer Neymar appears as himself.[9] Al Sapienza plays CIA Director Anderson. Nicky Jam plays Lazarus, Ariadna Gutiérrez plays Lola, Shawn Roberts plays Jonas, Daniel Kash plays Russian Spymaster, and Andrey Ivenchko plays Red Erik.



Following the release of XXX in 2002, director Rob Cohen revealed his plans to make XXX a franchise, but an "anarchistic" one with different settings in each film, without anyone from the original film returning except Vin Diesel as Xander Cage. Working on a sequel and planning as well a third and fourth film, Cohen had two scripts in development, one taking place in Southeast Asia and involving Malacca strait pirates and the other taking place in Washington, D.C. and involving the United States Secret Service.[10] Diesel explained that one of the two scripts was written by Rich Wilkes and the other was written by an unnamed writer, but Wilkes' script was the one he wanted as it excited him the most.[11] However, Diesel ultimately opted out from making a second XXX film, which was titled XXX: State of the Union, due to disliking the script, feeling that it "didn't feel XXX" for him.[12]

Although the character of Xander Cage was supposedly killed in the sequel to explain his absence, Vin Diesel announced in 2006 that he would be returning as Xander Cage in a sequel, entitled XXX: The Return of Xander Cage,[13] with the character's death being retconned for the film. Initially, not only Diesel was set to return, but also Cohen. Diesel has said that the style and music will also be similar to that of the original film, more of what the fans want, with an emphasis on extreme stunts and with a heavy metal soundtrack. Joe Roth was in talks to produce.[14] According to Cohen, he has also approached Sony, and "now we're writing a script with the guys who wrote Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation. So we'll do another Xander Cage XXX. We'll bring it up to speed a bit and bring back the extreme sports guy who's drafted to be a spy."[15] On June 10, 2009, Cohen dropped out of the production, instead moving to direct the action film Medieval. On August 26, 2009, SlashFilm announced that Ericson Core would be directing and production would start in early 2010.[16]

In April 2010, it was revealed that the third film would be financed by Paramount Pictures instead of Sony, and would also be shot in 3D. Meanwhile, Rob Cohen had returned as director.[17] Vin Diesel will produce, among others, while Gloria S. Borders, Scott Hemming, Ric Kidney and Vince Totino will serve as executive producers.[18]


In January 2014, Vin Diesel confirmed work on a sequel tentatively titled XXX: The Return of Xander Cage. On August 23, 2015, Vin Diesel announced on his Instagram page that "While I was filming xXx, guys on set called me Air Diesel... The time to return has come. Filming starts December in the Philippines. #ILiveForThisShit...".[19] On October 10, 2015, it was reported that director D. J. Caruso would direct the film.[20] Diesel announced that UFC fighter Conor McGregor was cast in a role and that Jackson will be reprising his role as Gibbons.[21][22] However, in April 2016 it was announced McGregor had dropped out of his planned appearance to focus on training and the UFC; he was replaced by Michael Bisping.[23] On January 1, 2016, Twitch Film reported that Tony Jaa, Jet Li and Deepika Padukone were cast in roles.[24] The following week, Nina Dobrev and Ruby Rose were also cast.[25] Dobrev would be playing a witty and sarcastic techie, while Padukone would play a huntress who happens to be Cage's former lover. Rose would play a sniper.[26] Andrey Ivchenko was confirmed to be another villain in the film, given that earlier reports revealed Li to be playing an adversary as well.

It was rumored that Ice Cube, who played the protagonist Darius Stone in the second film in 2005, would reprise his role,[27] which was confirmed in January 2017.[28] On February 6, 2016, Caruso revealed on his Twitter account that Kris Wu had joined the cast,[29][30] he also added that Wu would be playing a vital character.[31][32] On February 12, 2016, reports brought in the news that Jet Li dropped out of the film and was replaced with Donnie Yen in the role of the main antagonist, Xiang.[33] On June 3, 2016, it was revealed that Brazilian footballer Neymar joined the film's cast.[34]


Principal photography began on February 2, 2016, primarily at Cinespace Film Studios' Kipling Avenue facility in Toronto, Ontario. It was also filmed on location in Hamilton, Ontario.[35] Filming lasted until May 20, 2016, and also took place in Pinewood Indomina Studios, Dominican Republic and the Philippines.[36]


Brian Tyler composed and wrote the film's original score alongside Robert Lydecker.[37] The film's soundtrack contained songs and remixes of various artists, including songs by Kris Wu, Nicky Jam and Ice Cube who appear in the film.

All music is composed by Brian Tyler and Robert Lydecker.

Film Score
1."XXX: The Return of Xander Cage"4:05
2."Xander Cage...Live and in Concert"1:55
3."I Live for This $#!%"4:15
5."Carte Blanche"3:00
7."The Last Greatest Adventure"5:38
8."Pandora's Box"2:58
9."Rock, Paper, Scissors, Grenade Launcher"2:18
10."A New Ride"2:42
11."Tattoos and Triangulation"3:35
13."Wave Riders"3:45
14."Twenty Two and a Half"3:05
15."Battle of the X's"5:33
16."Not So Special Forces"2:42
17."Read Between the Lines"3:50
18."Besting the Best of the Best"2:28
19."XXX Incorporated"2:40
20."Xero Gravity"2:38
Total length:70:56

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (Music from the Motion Picture)

Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."In My Foreign"The Americanos featuring Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Yachty, Nicky Jam and French Montana3:38
2."All the Way Up (Remix)"Fat Joe, Remy Ma and David Guetta3:31
3."Divebomb"Madsonik and KILL THE NOISE featuring Tom Morello3:33
5."Gunshy"ImanoS featuring Pusha T and Karen Harding3:54
6."Mercy"Bishop Briggs2:48
7."Burning Man"watt featuring Post Malone3:17
8."Blood in the Cut"K. Flay3:08
9."Juice"Kris Wu3:10
10."Take It to the Top"Madsonik3:53
11."Thank God"Ice Cube5:16


Tim Waggoner wrote the official movie novelization for the film.



The film premiered in Mexico City on January 5, 2017, and Paramount Pictures released the film on January 20, 2017, in the United States.[38] The film was released on January 14, 2017, in India.

Home media

XXX: Return of Xander Cage was released on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD on April 4, 2017.[39]


Box office

XXX: Return of Xander Cage grossed $44.9 million in the United States and Canada and $301.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $346.3 million, against a production budget of $85 million.[5]

In North America, the film was released alongside Split, The Founder, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone and the wide expansion of 20th Century Women, and was expected to gross $16–20 million from about 3,651 theaters in its opening weekend.[40] The film made $1.2 million from its Thursday night previews at 2,536 theaters.[41] It ended up grossing $20 million, finishing second at the box office behind Split ($40.2 million) and ranking as the second-highest debut of the XXX franchise. Worldwide, the film had an opening weekend of $70.5 million, nearly totaling the amount its predecessor made during its entire theatrical run ($71.1 million).[42]

In China, Paramount focused marketing efforts on Donnie Yen, placing him at the front of some film posters ahead of Vin Diesel, and shared clips and reviews of Yen's performance in the film on popular Chinese social media site Weibo.[43] Paramount's efforts worked very well in China. XXX was number one in its opening weekend with $61.9 million,[44] and crossed the $100 million mark in just six days with $22.2m coming from Valentine's Day alone after reviews praising Donnie Yen's performance sweeps through Chinese social media, driving moviegoers to the cinema.[45][46] Aside from Donnie Yen, the digital focused marketing was also credited for the film's success. Kris Wu's popularity was also a key factor and his music video for his song in the XXX soundtrack garnered 40 million views ahead of the film's release in China.[47] The film joined Terminator Genisys and Warcraft as the only Hollywood releases to earn $100 million in China without making $100 million in the United States.[48] The largest territory for the film is China, with US$164 million.[49]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 44% based on 149 reviews, and an average rating of 4.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "xXx: Return of Xander Cage should satisfy fans of the first two installments, but its preponderance of set pieces can't quite make up for a tired storyline that fails to take the franchise – or action fans – anywhere new."[50] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score 42 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[51] On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[52]

Andrew Lapin of Uproxx gave the film a negative review, saying: "There is an intellectual argument to be made in favor of the Fast & Furious franchise, which features diverse casts, operatic plotlines, and cartoon setpieces that often look like a child assembled them out of Hot Wheels sets. xXx is aiming for a much lower bar, striving only to be marketable, not inventive. The series is no longer interested in aping James Bond, lacking as it does a decent gadget or supervillain and often highlighting the sidekicks at the expense of Xander himself."[53] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praises Vin Diesel as an action hero and also praises Collette for her performance but says "the action becomes repetitive and tiresome".[54] Leah Pickett of the Chicago Reader calls the film "only slightly less dumb and nonsensical than the previous films" and praises the action and stunt work from Diesel and Donnie Yen.[55]


Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Teen Choice Awards August 13, 2017 Choice Action Movie DJ Caruso, Joe Roth, Vin Diesel Nominated
Choice Action Movie Actor Vin Diesel

(also for The Fate of the Furious)

Choice Action Movie Actress Ruby Rose Nominated
Nina Dobrev Nominated
Deepika Padukone Nominated
Choice Breakout Movie Star Nominated
Choice Movie Ship Deepika Padukone and Ruby Rose Nominated


In January 2017, in an interview with Variety, Diesel revealed that Paramount has already contacted him about returning for a fourth film.[58] Director D. J. Caruso has confirmed the news on Twitter that all of the major cast would be back for the fourth installment of the franchise.[59] Film producer Joe Roth told Variety, "In today's Hollywood, it requires strong partners to produce and finance such big-budget movies as the xXx series, and The H Collective is a welcome and exciting new company that we look forward to working with."[60] On November 20, 2018, Deadline reported that both Jay Chou and Zoe Zhang were cast.[61]


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External links