The initial trailer for xXx: Return of Xander Cage raised a lot of questions in scientific circles. Since the age of Jesus, motorcycles have not been able to ride successfully on water. However, in the trailer released late last year, we saw Vin Diesel pursue Donnie Yen through, over, and in, waves. I'm not saying that we should abandon common sense and science at the door when you see all films, but for xXx, make the exception.

After 12 years off-screen, the death of a friend causes Toni Collette to encourage the extreme sports rebel to come out of hiding and return to the fold. Cue an initial 45 minutes of film that transcends extreme action and looks deep into the world a 13-year-old's bedroom.

Puberty

The puberty comment comes from two aspects of the first 45 minutes: one good and one slightly creepy. Each character is introduced through what can only be described as an Overwatch character selection screen (to be down with the kids) - with their interests, hobbies and favourite sushi type displayed to the right. It's one of Adele Wolf's (Ruby Rose) descriptive sides that gives the game away that I'm not the current demographic for this film.

After "evening the odds" by injuring hunters attempting to kill a lion, Adele struts away as her info appears to the side: "Call of Duty Tag - Lady_Boner". The film's tone then makes sense to me--it's for red-blooded men - specifically men who occasionally spend their evenings pwning newbs whilst telling anonymous acquaintances to fuck their mother. I'm cool with that--like 100% cool--however what grates me the most is this: how the fuck does every woman want to mack on Vin Diesel?

It's not subtle and at times it really takes away from what the story could be. Instead of Diesel having to work at getting information, he sleeps with a gaggle of English models to acquire an address. After passing the test and becoming part of the CIA again, he gets hit on, albeit incredibly awkwardly, by Nina Dobrev in what might be the cringiest scene in recent memory.

Love interests did appear in the original xXx but they weren't all like "Xander Cage, I hear you are the largest in the locker room." Yes, I'm a red-blooded male but everything is ok in moderation (James Bond runs the line of moderation well here, whilst Jason Bourne just doesn't bother as he's too busy punching people with books). Hopefully, if there's a sequel (this was only made thanks to significant Chinese investment) they'll tip the scales in favour of '90s-esque canon action - because when xXx does action, it does it well.

Did someone say impossible?

The first 45 minutes also includes one example of what makes xXx special: action scenes that should be impossible. Like the Furious franchise, you need to leave your sense of logic at the door, as we are treated to Diesel skiing down a cliff, pulling off tricks before moving over to a longboard. Instead of nodding and going "That'll do pig", xXx continues to constantly up the ante when it comes to action scenes, a statement contributed to directly by the casting of both Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa in the same film.

Yen's fights with Diesel (and eventually the whole ensemble) are exquisite, but nothing comes close to the opening scene where Yen displays gunplay previously only seen in the original Matrix films. It's electrifying and precise, with the only flaw being that it didn't last long enough.

Without driving too fast (and furious) into the other action set pieces, they are just as good. They are more improbable than impossible, which is where the film works. There's no time to explain how Diesel and his crew manage to [redacted] or get to [redacted] in this piece so just nod, take a handful of nachos soaked in film cheese, and let the action wash over you.

Should you see it at the cinema? Sure. Should you expect certain sections of your friendship group to groan when you say you're going to see it? Yes. At the end of the day, it's an enjoyable romp with a few problems, but overall, it sets up a world that I'll happily return to.