Sticking out like a hammer-smashed thumb during awards season, xXx: Return of Xander Cage sees Vin Diesel reboot the franchise that no film fan was really that arsed about seeing again. 

It's now 15 years since the colossus of charisma and The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen teamed up for the fun-if-forgettable story of an adrenaline junkie-turned-secret agent and 12 years since 'no scowl too surly' star Ice Cube took over for the substandard sequel. Did you hear the count-the-days clamour for a third movie in the meantime? Not just us, so. Word is the cast were told to keep this May free for a follow-up. They can fire ahead and book the bungalow in Brittas.

'Boffin - check; heavily tattooed punky sidekick - check'

The alarm bells start ringing from the get-go as Barcelona player Neymar makes a cameo which only serves to show us just how good his compatriots Rivaldo and Dida were at acting in the 2002 World Cup and 2007 Champions League respectively. The only reason he's on screen is some supremely cynical box ticking for the Brazilian market - Donnie Yen is there for the Chinese punters and Deepika Padukone has been signed up for the Bollywood faithful. Thai martial arts great Tony Jaa is bleached blonde and shamefully bundled into the background to make up the numbers. Mrs Brown doesn't pop up but maybe she's in reserve for the blu-Ray.

And so to the plot, which makes any Furious instalment look like The Night Manager in comparison. The I-thought-you-were dead Xander Cage (Diesel) gets back in the game when a box (called Pandora's Box, mind), which can control satellites is stolen. Cue a globe-spanning chase to Thailand, London England and, er, Detroit. Viewers are given the option to feel carsick, seasick, airsick and homesick throughout. The pacing may cause panic attacks. 

Three talents wasted - in the artistic sense

Time and time again the stunt team do their profession proud here with their bravery and brilliance but there is no drama, tension or chemistry between the smash-ups and shootouts. Every line is delivered in a rush to get to the next setpiece and while there are a couple of one good one-liners, referencing the Lockerbie bombing to highlight a character's conspiracy theory paranoia leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. They should've halved the amount they spent on bullets and thrown ten times as much at script doctors. In the middle of a freeway traffic jam Diesel tells us it's gridlock. Good to know.

Few, if any, cinematic experiences in 2017 will be as crushing as seeing Toni Collette slumming it here as a CIA boss. Suddenly thesps taking the superhero shill feels as noble as treading the boards in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Rumours of a good script brought terror to the set

"It would be a wonderful world," laments Diesel, "if we just stopped doing bad s*** to it." Forty-two crew members collapsed after the director yelled 'cut', suffering from the effects of irony inhalation. Careful now.  

Harry Guerin