xXx: The Return of Xander Cage appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a strong presentation.
Sharpness worked fine, with virtually no softness on display. This meant the vast majority of the film was accurate and well-defined. I saw no signs of jaggies or moiré effects, and the film lacked edge haloes or print flaws.
If you suspected Return would come with the modern standard teal and orange palette, you’ll get what you expected. I’d like to see action flicks dispense with those conceits, but given their restraints, they looked appropriate here.
Blacks came across nicely. Dark tones were deep and rich, without any muddiness or problems. In addition, low-light shots gave us smooth, clear visuals. All in all, this became a pleasing presentation.
I also felt happy with the solid Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Return. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the mix offered plenty of opportunities for lively auditory information, and it took good advantage of these.
From the opening scene on a plane to road chases to gunfire to explosions to other action elements, the mix filled the speakers on a frequent basis. The track placed information in logical spots and blended all the channels in a smooth, compelling manner.
Audio quality was also positive. Music sounded lively and full, while effects delivered accurate material. Those elements showed nice clarity and kick, with tight low-end. Speech was always distinctive and concise, too. This mix worked well for the film.
The set includes four featurettes, and we begin with Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns. In this eight-minute, 13-second piece, we hear from executive producers Vince Totino and Scott Hemming, producer Jeff Kirschenbaum, screenwriter F. Scott Frazier, director DJ Caruso, and actors Vin Diesel and Ruby Rose.
“Charm” looks at the franchise’s revival and story/characters. It lacks much substance and feels promotional.
By the way, Diesel claims xXx became a “Bond killer” that outsold the same year’s Die Another Day. Nope – by no box office measure did xXx win that battle.
xXx made $142 million US and $277 million total worldwide, while Day grossed went $160 million/$431 million. Some predicted xXx would be the bigger hit – and due to a much smaller budget, it did make a greater profit – but Bond still sold more tickets.
Next comes Rebels, Tyrants and Ghosts: The Cast. It fills 20 minutes, 18 seconds with info from Diesel, Rose, Kirschenbaum, Caruso, Hemming, Totino, Frazier, director of photography Russell Carpenter, and actors Toni Collette, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Michael Bisping, Tony Jaa, and Nina Dobrev.
As implied by the title, “Rebels” examines the movie’s actors and characters. Like the prior featurette, this one tends toward praise and fails to provide many useful facts.
Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location goes for 16 minutes, 10 seconds and features Caruso, Carpenter, Totino, Hemming, Kirschenbaum, Diesel, McCann, production designer Jon Billington, Pinewood Dominican Republic VP Albert Martinez Martin, visual effects supervisor Jasen Nannini and camera operator Angelo Colavecchia. “Box” relates notes about sets and locations, lighting and cinematography. Though more informative than its predecessors, “Box” still fails to give us a consistently compelling show.
Finally, I Live for This Sh#t! runs 15 minutes, 17 seconds and includes Diesel, Caruso, Carpenter, Frazier, Kirschenbaum, Rose, Collette, Bisping, Yen, supervising stunt coordinator Bobby Brown, and actor Tony Gonzalez. Here we get info about stunts and action. Like “Box”, “Live” mixes details with happy talk to become a passable overview of the subject matter.
A Gag Reel lasts two minutes, 12 seconds. It delivers the usual goofs and giggles, so it never becomes anything memorable.
A second disc brings us a DVD Copy of Return. It lacks all of the Blu-ray’s extras.
15 years after the first movie, Vin Diesel comes back to the franchise via xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Unfortunately, this sequel works little better than its ineffective predecessor, so it winds up as a lackluster attempt at an action experience. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio as well as mediocre supplements. Despite occasional thrills, Return mostly sputters.