Is Netflix's 'Xtreme' A Rewarding Revenge Franchise In The Making?

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Quim Vives/Netflix

Revenge. It is a story as old as time, and the manner of how that story is executed is the way in which genre entries set themselves apart. “Xtreme” (“Xtremo”) is a Spanish-language thriller that dives head-first into convention with no apologies. The opening sequence offers an unflinching glimpse into a dark underworld of crime and violence. By the end, the movie has set itself up a potential franchise.

When it begins “Xtreme” introduces Max (Teo Garcรญa), an enforcer for a crime syndicate in Spain. He has one last deal to finish alongside his foster brother, Lucero (Oscar Jaenada) before he bids farewell to a life of crime. Max is ready to start a new life with his son, far away from the glare of blood and gore. Unfortunately for Max, his brother-in-arms – Lucero -- has different plans that devastate Max’s family.

Two years later, “Xtreme” introduces the likable Leo (Oscar Casas, brother of Mario Casas), a kid trying to make it in a hard-knock world that does not pull punches. Before long, Leo’s story collides with Max’s in unexpected, exciting, and suspenseful ways. What follows is a dash of “Cobra Kai” mixed with “Gladiator.” The latter film is alluded to quite heavily, which the film itself readily admits.
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Stylized and slick, “Xtreme” winds its way through a tale both elaborate and straightforward. It is about a quest for revenge and a deep dive into the criminal underworld. The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed and performed, making it one of the most dazzling action displays a movie has presented in quite some time.

As fans know, all revenge tales are not made equal, and “Xtreme” is a cut above the rest with a bonus for franchise potential. There are multiple directions a sequel could take that would be satisfying. As a standalone film, the only critique to be found is how badly Max’s fighting prowess diminishes as the movie progresses, pulling a “Van Damme” (the protagonist gets beaten up for an extended period).

It is especially disappointing considering how strongly Max comes on initially. I do not know about you, but that is not the kind of momentum this viewer wants heading into the second act of an action flick. Sadly, Max “Van Damme-ing” the final act is the only area that “Xtreme” finds itself falling into less ideal tropes. 

Why so many actioners struggle with the paradigm of having its lead take a beating is beyond me. It is an ongoing issue, though, reminiscent of wrestling. Thankfully, the best film of 2017 provides a key example of executing a revenge film without unnecessary flinching. It is a lesson that other movies could learn.

When all is said and done, “Xtreme” provides yet another prime example of how Spain is killing it in the entertainment game. Hot on the heels of dazzling psychological thrillers like “The Occupant” and the continued rise of its television programming, “Xtreme” is yet another notch in the country’s extensive belt.

Rating: 7.5/10