News has surfaced, by way of The Hollywood Reporter, stating that a new director has been found for xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, the third installment in Columbia Pictures’ action series. Last year both star Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen (director of the first installment) agreed to join forces for a third film, but in June this year Cohen bailed to direct Medieval. The new director is Ericson Core (Invincible), who’s worked with Diesel before as the Cinematographer on The Fast and the Furious.

Diesel starred in the original xXx back in 2002, but both he and director Cohen skipped the second film, xXx: State of the Union, starring Ice Cube and directed by Lee Tamahori.

Diesel was somewhat of a hot name at the time of xXx, but for some reason he thought it best to skip both the sequel and two of the Fast and the Furious sequels in order to concentrate on The Chronicles of Riddick. After that came the financial failure Babylon A.D. and the family comedy (read: the film that lost him his “street cred”), The Pacifier.

It’s no wonder then that Diesel has turned his sights back on the franchises that gave him relative success in the first place, first with Fast & Furious earlier this year and now with xXx 3 (there’s also rumblings of a new Riddick movie, too). The new xXx is being produced by Neil Moritz and Joe Roth, and was written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris (Terminator Salvation), with the script recently being “polished” by Richard Wilkes, writer of the original. Unsurprisingly (going by the name) the third film will see Diesel’s “action man” Xander Cage return to the National Security Agency after an eight-year hiatus.

[SPOILER warning]

After Cage’s apparent death sometime following the first film – which was mentioned in the second one and even partially seen in a special scene filmed for the DVD release of the first movie – I’m calling now that the explanation they’ll give in The Return of Xander Cage is that he faked his own death. You just wait and see.

[End SPOILERS]

The first xXx was somewhat fun, but in no way what you would call a “good” movie. For anyone who enjoys action films for the ridiculous, over-the-top brain-mush they so often deliver, then you’ll get a few kicks out of xXx. The sequel with Ice Cube was absolutely horrible, not least of which because of Cube. I really don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it.

It’ll be interesting to see if xXx 3 will make any money. The first one made almost $280 million worldwide, but the second dropped to about $70 million. Will the inclusion of Diesel this time around bring in more people? I have a sneaking suspicion it just might. Of course, franchise name recognition doesn’t exactly hurt either. Having said that, this step seems like further evidence of Diesel trying to spark a second go at stardom by retracing his cinematic steps. You can’t exactly blame him, I suppose, but I can’t say I’m psyched about the movie, either.

With Cohen now not returning to direct, and instead Core (who’s got limited directorial experience) helming it, they’ve just removed one possible ray of hope this sequel might have had. I’m going to go out on a limb here (note the sarcasm) and say it’ll be lame. Not xXx 2 lame, but still pretty lame nonetheless.

What do you think about a third xXx movie? What about the director they’ve brought on-board?

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage currently has an aimed production start date of sometime early next year, and doesn’t have a release date yet.

Source: THR