Critics Consensus

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Is an Absurd but Action-Packed Revival

Plus, Split, The Founder, and 20th Century Women are Certified Fresh, and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone wasn't screened for critics.

by | January 19, 2017 | Comments

This week at the movies, we have the return of a super-spy (xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, starring Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen), a kidnapper with multiple personalities (Split, starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy), the early days of McDonald’s (The Founder, starring Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman), a teenage boy coming of age at his single mom’s boardinghouse (20th Century Women, starring Annette Bening and Greta Gerwig), and a down-on-his-luck actor on the brink of a spiritual transformation (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, starring Brett Dalton and Anjelah Johnson-Reyes). What are the critics saying?


xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) 45%

Say what you will about Vin Diesel as an actor, but he’s nothing if not a man of his time. In today’s Hollywood, nothing’s quite as appealing as a franchise, and he’s got ’em falling out of his pockets: in addition to toplining the Fast and Furious movies and starring as the Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Groot in the MCU, he’s spearheaded the Riddick movies — and now, with this weekend’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage, he revives an action saga we once thought was long since finished. As the title implies, the third xXx finds Diesel returning as the no-nonsense secret agent, lured out of retirement (and his presumed death) to battle a bad guy (Donnie Yen) out to control the world’s military satellites; as you might expect, explosive set pieces ensue. Critics tend to give Diesel some extra latitude due to his easygoing charm, and that’s basically the case here; although it isn’t destined to rank alongside his more esteemed efforts, reviews describe an amiably entertaining outing that should satisfy fans while amounting to a painless diversion for everyone else.


Split (2017) 77%

M. Night Shyamalan‘s name was once synonymous with creepy thrillers and breathtaking twists. The writer-director has long since tumbled from the lofty heights he reached with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but he’s put together a quiet comeback of sorts over the last few years, and this weekend’s Split suggests he might have truly regained his creative mojo. Starring James McAvoy as a kidnapper who takes three girls hostage — all while coping with dozens of personalities that threaten to either fix the situation or make it much worse — it serves up satisfying genre thrills in the service of a story that manages to stick its twisty landing while offering its leading man plenty of room to put on a career-defining show. Critics admit Split may not be one for the ages, but if it’s a nasty good time at the movies you’re after, this is one Shyamalan production that delivers.


The Founder (2017) 80%

The early years of Michael Keaton’s career were dotted with projects that found him playing fast-talking glad-handers, so even though it’s been a little while since we’ve seen him with that Night Shift or Beetlejuice-style twinkle in his eye, it sounded like perfect casting when word got out he’d be playing McDonald’s mastermind Ray Kroc in The Founder. Fittingly, reviews say Keaton’s performance as the ruthless visionary is one of the things that helps make this biopic more than just the story of a salesman who worked his way into an efficient drive-through and turned it into one of the world’s most successful businesses — to the eventual chagrin of the brothers who started it. Much like the restaurant’s food, it may leave you feeling a little unsettled after you’re done, but The Founder is a solid match for its leading man as well as a uniquely resonant look at modern American commerce.


20th Century Women (2017) 88%

Writer-director Mike Mills earned raves for his semi-autobiographical Beginners in 2011, and he’s tapped his own memories again for this weekend’s 20th Century Women, with similarly lauded results. This time around, he’s telling the story of a single mom (Annette Bening) who parents her teenage son (Lucas Jade Zumann) in the midst of a boardinghouse filled with eclectic tenants that include an artist (Greta Gerwig), a handyman (Billy Crudup), and a slightly older girl with a fondness for platonic bed-sharing. It’s the sort of quietly absorbing character study that can really be something special with the right filmmaker and cast, and critics say that’s exactly what we have here — Mills again turns out affectingly empathetic work, aided and abetted by a Bening performance that’s earning some of the best reviews of her distinguished career.


The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2017) 50%

Nothing triggers a spiritual reassessment quite like a personal setback, and acting is a uniquely high-stakes profession that can send a person soaring from poverty to riches and back again — so The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, starring Brett Dalton as a former child actor whose poor choices get him slapped with community service, has a certain amount of built-in dramatic potential. We know Gavin ends up serving at his local church, where he tries to worm his way into the starring role in their annual Passion Play, and the title makes it pretty clear he’ll undergo a religious reawakening in time for the final act. Unfortunately, because there are still only a small number of reviews for Resurrection, we can’t really offer a clear picture of what the critics think. You know what that means: it’s time to Guess the Tomatometer!


What’s New on TV

 

SIX: Season 1 (2017) 62%

Six‘s well-crafted action and engaging characters are intriguing in spite of the show’s trite premise and familiar narrative.


 

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

Tag Cloud

jamie lee curtis theme song Baby Yoda Thanksgiving Lucasfilm reviews Nat Geo indiana jones canceled halloween tv crime thriller TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper Pirates satire golden globes directors halloween CBS name the review hollywood Tarantino cancelled TV series Sundance Now Sneak Peek book Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Emmy Nominations Lifetime RT History GLAAD TCA Winter 2020 Watching Series batman streaming universal monsters A&E strong female leads Columbia Pictures HBO Go Comedy Pop TV Fox News italian DirecTV GoT blockbuster spanish Comic Book hispanic Crunchyroll Pop christmas movies BBC finale comiccon Awards TCM FX on Hulu PaleyFest Food Network Amazon sitcom slashers Ovation Crackle Fall TV Creative Arts Emmys Holidays 20th Century Fox Black History Month Rock screen actors guild FXX sequels Disney Vudu Lifetime Christmas movies remakes Extras joker DC Universe OneApp APB Animation canceled TV shows Television Academy Lionsgate ITV Set visit stand-up comedy a nightmare on elm street spy thriller rotten Toys Fantasy obituary Starz 2020 science fiction documentaries teaser natural history TNT SXSW Cannes TCA Family series FOX HBO Max Nickelodeon mission: impossible Women's History Month Chernobyl Captain marvel children's TV Valentine's Day Disney Plus TruTV VH1 Red Carpet Year in Review Martial Arts nature aliens CW Seed spain Musical fast and furious festival venice diversity Sci-Fi Universal See It Skip It social media latino Podcast Paramount Network A24 Box Office free movies best Heroines cults cops YA animated Character Guide 2019 Tubi composers El Rey Ghostbusters SDCC unscripted Biopics doctor who Trailer Opinion Esquire Reality Competition indie SundanceTV news ABC Family movies Turner Classic Movies MTV First Reviews versus renewed TV shows The Academy Premiere Dates E3 Bravo VICE TLC IFC Films Western stop motion talk show Sundance adaptation Spectrum Originals Stephen King superhero History Film Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cancelled Music BET Awards football romantic comedy crime drama period drama cinemax YouTube festivals Song of Ice and Fire Mindy Kaling Arrowverse CBS All Access BBC America Calendar Netflix Christmas movies National Geographic Super Bowl cars Certified Fresh robots comics psycho AMC Countdown 2017 Acorn TV screenings disaster Cartoon Network all-time 2015 Disney Channel Oscars Video Games transformers anime Election Apple TV+ ESPN zombie scorecard kids The Arrangement dc biography DC Comics boxoffice facebook Photos OWN Quiz Black Mirror worst movies The Witch Brie Larson Interview independent technology Logo Britbox films WGN 72 Emmy Awards dragons Sundance TV Writers Guild of America concert Fox Searchlight Academy Awards Action Discovery Channel CNN parents Spring TV MSNBC ABC sports LGBTQ 4/20 Trophy Talk Grammys New York Comic Con adventure serial killer The Purge dramedy CMT mutant Marvel Studios police drama video ratings 21st Century Fox Holiday TBS nbcuniversal USA criterion medical drama richard e. Grant TIFF Amazon Prime Hear Us Out Marathons Superheroes laika Paramount casting franchise Turner quibi Country political drama The CW child's play award winner travel HBO Mudbound The Walking Dead Superheroe vampires Star Trek video on demand NBC Mystery Showtime Walt Disney Pictures zombies foreign Mary poppins game of thrones Avengers green book Infographic true crime supernatural historical drama Travel Channel President Rom-Com witnail Warner Bros. PlayStation Comics on TV Freeform binge reboot Amazon Studios anthology San Diego Comic-Con BBC One Rocky spinoff Apple crossover thriller Anna Paquin toy story Film Festival crime cancelled television Funimation chucky Hallmark Christmas movies mockumentary cooking DC streaming service critics Emmys elevated horror Nominations what to watch dceu MCU 45 Reality Disney streaming service war sequel Summer scary movies harry potter classics Pet Sematary E! emmy awards Hallmark archives YouTube Premium Masterpiece blaxploitation Musicals singing competition nfl FX Kids & Family Trivia 24 frames Television Critics Association ghosts Amazon Prime Video werewolf Adult Swim GIFs zero dark thirty breaking bad Shondaland Rocketman RT21 Hulu Cosplay Drama Apple TV Plus Schedule stoner revenge tv talk Binge Guide Netflix Awards Tour dark romance USA Network BAFTA toronto American Society of Cinematographers BET Marvel TV asian-american 71st Emmy Awards Epix 2016 politics discovery cancelled TV shows Endgame NYCC comedies Mary Poppins Returns Tomatazos Peacock Winter TV docudrama Syfy 2018 Classic Film Horror Tumblr TV renewals twilight VOD LGBT based on movie Teen Elton John cartoon Spike YouTube Red justice league Mary Tyler Moore Star Wars game show spider-man worst rotten movies we love Comedy Central PBS Pride Month Pixar space hist X-Men psychological thriller Dark Horse Comics Best and Worst Polls and Games Sony Pictures 007 Christmas Disney+ Disney Plus WarnerMedia Marvel Television TV Land miniseries TCA Awards south america Winners french documentary dogs First Look sag awards IFC movie Shudder die hard cats spanish language comic television DGA