Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel Back on xXx 3 … in 3D

Rob Cohen abandoned the third “xXx” movie so he could direct “Medieval”, but with that film having unceremoniously fallen by the wayside, Deadline has Cohen (left) back onboard “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” alongside the franchise’s original star, Vin Diesel. This, despite previous trade reports that had Columbia Pictures already hiring a new director for the gig. But apparently the new director has been ejected along with Columbia, who has left the franchise with Paramount expected to take over.

Opines Cohen on the return gig:

“I feel what we did in the beginning of the decade was bring a different attitude to the action movie and a different kind of hero,” Cohen said. “With the new 3D instrument and the techniques I can apply, we can create a different kind of cutting-edge experience in 3D by shooting it that way from the beginning the way James Cameron did Avatar. This won’t be fantasy characters, it takes place on Earth in real time. That’s a new dimension to be explored, and I’m excited.”

The plot of “Xander Cage” would find Vin Diesel returning as Cage, the extreme sports athlete turned super spy who is left for dead after the events of the first film (Diesel was replaced by Ice Cube in the second one), but somehow survives to return to active duty. Samuel L. Jackson is expected back as scarface Augustus Gibbons, the man who recruited Cage, if by “recruit” you mean set up and blackmail. As with the first movie, part three will find Cage trotting around Europe to save the day, preferably with a skanky Euro broad at his side.

But up first for Diesel is the fifth “The Fast and Furious” movie, with the actor expected to hop onboard the “xXx” sequel once he wraps the car movie for director Justin Lin. The studio is eying either a late 2011 or early 2012 release date for “The Return of Xander Cage”, unless, of course, Cohen decides to jump ship to do another movie first.

Uh guys? My tats are fading. Touch up!