xXx: Return of Xander Cage (DJ Caruso 2017)

xxx_return_of_xander_cage_film_poster-jpegand so anyway it turns out the best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) is not reminding people that when xXx (Rob Cohen 2002) first came out serious people seriously spoke about it seriously killing off the hopelessly moribund Bond franchise, seriously,[1] and being able to prove it by pointing to the film’s complex self-referentiality (well, the succession of innuendo so lame even Roger Moore would have questioned the wisdom of saying such things aloud), no, the best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage was seeing it in a cinema full of boys who were not alive when xXx came out and who were in fact so young that, when Ice Cube turns up for his cameo, they not only have no idea about xXx: State of the Union (Lee Tamahori 2005),[2] and thus of who Darius Stone is, but were also not actually all that clear on the identity of Cube himself, no, wait, the very best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage is having an audience of teenage boys turn around in unison and stare at you when Cube/Stone appears and you are the only person in the auditorium to let out a small involuntary cheer…

[1] But then Vin Diesel walked away from the franchise, and from the Fast and Furious franchise, to make the massively underrated but still a bit crappy Chronicles of Riddick (David Twohy 2004) and especially, and lest we forget, The Pacifier (Adam Shankman 2005).
[2] Aka, for non-US, audiences xXx: The Next Level.

SPECTRE (Sam Mendes 2015)

MV5BMjM2Nzg4MzkwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzA0OTE3NjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about SPECTRE (2015) is not that with Sam Mendes’s sprightly directorial style they have found a helmsman as precisely geriatric as this leaden, self-important iteration of the franchise, nor that the atrocious dialogue actually succeeds in making you miss Roger Moore, nor that it spectacularly misrepresents North African rail services so as to set the benchmark for what we should expect from Prime Minister-to-be Jeremy Corbyn’s thankfully renationalised rail service (every carriage first class, with a bar, boutiques and tailors), nor that its title sequence manages to do tentacle hentai as insipidly as it does theme tune, no, the very best thing about SPECTRE is the hidden-in-plain-sight Marcel Proust allusion that is there for no reason other than to remind you of things past, when Bond used to be fun and misogynist rather than just dull and misogynist…