Vin Diesel is a guy who knows how to get stuff done. He’s talked his way into a Marvel movie, conjured another Pitch Black movie seemingly out of thin air, and he’s been the driving force behind the Fast and Furious movies. And there’s even more evidence of this filming as we speak, as XXX 3: The Return of Xander Cage, a movie most of us assumed we’d never live to see, is shooting right now. Details have been pretty sparse thus far, but now we have an official synopsis.
Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, The Disappointments Room), XXX 3: The Return of Xander Cage has started filming in Toronto—you may have seen some of the pictures shared by Vin Diesel, largely of him shirtless and covered in fake tattoos. We just learned that Paramount has come on board as a distributor, and with that news came our first official description.
The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.
That sounds like a XXX movie from where I sit. And like it should dovetail nicely with the two previous installments. At this point we know a number of actors that will show up in XXX 3: The Rise of Xander Cage, but it will be interesting to see where they fall. The early talk was that the plot revolves around two teams going head to head after the same prize, which this confirms.
When I read the name Xiang, my first thought was that must be who martial arts legend Jet Li is playing. However, at least according to IMDb, he’s playing a character named Raif. That could very well be wrong, but if it isn’t, my next guess is that Tony Jaa plays the "deadly alpha warrior." He worked with Vin Diesel on Furious 7 recently, and the idea of these two throwing down is music to my ears.
UFC featherweight champ Conor McGreagor is also set to appear in XXX 3: The Return of Xander Cage. Just based on the usual heel persona that he deploys in his fighting career, I would hazard to guess that he is also one of the bad guys, like fellow UFC fighter Ronda Rousey was in Furious 7 last summer.
It will also be interesting to see who teams up with Xander Cage. We know Samuel L. Jackson will be back as Agent Augustus Gibbons, and XXX: State of the Union star Ice Cube is also rumored to be back, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that turns out to just be a quick cameo callback. Toni Collette is on board as an intelligence agent of some sort, so she could fight for the good guys, and it looks like Bollywood star Deepika Padukone will be in cahoots with the extreme sports hero. Orange is the New Black breakout Ruby Rose and Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev are also members of the cast, though their roles are anybody’s guess.
XXX 3: The Rise of Xander Cage is filming in Toronto now, before moving to the Dominican Republic and probably some other exotic locales. It will hit theaters in 2017.