xXx, released in 2002, was the third film (just after The Fast & The Furious and Pitch Black) that helped launch Vin Diesel into super-stardom. Even though he had major roles in The Iron Giant, Boiler Room, and Knockaround Guys, Xander Cage is arguably one of his most famous characters behind Dominic Toretto of the Fast franchise. Whether it’s because of these memorable characters or from Diesel’s sheer likability off-screen, he has amassed an enormous fanbase that seems primed for xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

This third installment is more of a franchise resurrection after the second film, starring Ice Cube, didn’t live up to the expectations of the first. It wouldn’t be the first time Vin Diesel has come back and breathed new life into a struggling series. After the success of 2001’s The Fast & The Furious, the next two sequels were made without Diesel’s main character (his cameo in the third film shouldn’t count). Yet when he, and the rest of the original cast, reunited with the fourth installment 3 years after Tokyo Drift, fans have been throwing money at the franchise since 2009. Sequels are now planned through a 10th movie, and perhaps lightning will strike twice with the xXx films.

He regularly addresses his over 100 million fans via Facebook live videos and, in a recent video, he talks about how excited he is after having seen a semi-final cut of xXx: Return of Xander Cage. While in a car after a marketing meeting with Paramount, Diesel had this to say:

“[Paramount] is so poised to do something so amazing with XXX. I was speechless after watching the movie. I felt like it’s been a long time coming. The spirit of individuality that plays in the movie is kind of refreshing and kind of timely.”

Vin Diesel XXX Vin Diesel Says Current Cut of xXx 3 is Amazing But Too Short

The premise behind these films is very much like that of Suicide Squad — where unlikely criminals are recruited by clandestine government agencies to do some good by any means necessary. An X-Games version of James Bond, if you will, Xander Cage is the perfect anti-hero audiences can get behind. While Diesel is excited for his return to the character, there was one thing he’s working to change about the final cut, promising more meetings with the studio:

“I don’t want to say anything negative, but I have to be honest. If there was one complaint I had about xXx the first cut, it’s too short. I wanted more… When people have been waiting 15 years for this franchise to return, you can’t just give them an hour and a half. It’s not fair because you just want more.”

Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson return to reprise their roles from the first film, and fans can expect new faces like Toni Collette, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Donnie Yen, and Ruby Rose. “I mean the cast is sensational,” he adds with a big grin. “You could see why they were all having so much fun, and why we had so much fun making the movie.” As for plot, if the trailer is any indication, fans will certainly be treated to intense action sequences, beautiful landscapes and exotic locations and, of course, Xander Cage saving the world in the most extreme sports way imaginable.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage bursts into U.S. theaters on January 20, 2017.

Source: Vin Diesel

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