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) 44%

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

Fox News The Academy Logo james bond Dark Horse Comics Netflix Christmas movies BET Awards docudrama cooking die hard BAFTA SDCC Awards Amazon Prime Video Best and Worst trailers stoner sports OneApp parents Britbox Biopics Sneak Peek south america Sundance TIFF classics NBC animated CBS All Access ABC Trophy Talk Writers Guild of America blockbuster crime drama deadpool joker aliens DC Comics justice league Heroines Fox Searchlight Showtime Warner Bros. Winners rotten Turner Classic Movies Red Carpet 20th Century Fox disaster french HBO Go ghosts Disney+ Disney Plus latino Masterpiece ABC Family Pop black ratings Schedule Tomatazos Comic Book Elton John Sundance TV Acorn TV First Look book FX on Hulu 99% Watching Series Trivia Opinion Disney Plus free movies strong female leads cancelled adaptation cars Interview golden globe awards Cannes LGBT TCA police drama Tumblr Photos Crunchyroll YouTube Red Lifetime Christmas movies crossover reviews Extras AMC Animation HBO Pirates TCA 2017 Discovery Channel Oscars films werewolf canceled festivals Endgame comic books The CW medical drama TNT President Stephen King franchise video on demand streaming elevated horror VICE GLAAD screen actors guild Sony Pictures BBC First Reviews Creative Arts Emmys dragons Black History Month Apple TV Plus breaking bad TV One remakes cops singing competition all-time unscripted boxing dogs Christmas Marvel Studios finale doctor who what to watch fresh TruTV Star Wars Lucasfilm based on movie Apple Video Games Star Trek kids LGBTQ nature archives Action independent hollywood 24 frames 71st Emmy Awards A&E laika Walt Disney Pictures mutant The Purge green book Emmy Nominations golden globes crime thriller Universal DirecTV football Apple TV+ CNN Sci-Fi blaxploitation Television Academy tv talk Women's History Month Teen canceled TV shows Hear Us Out supernatural Anna Paquin transformers 2020 Pride Month Martial Arts Marvel NYCC renewed TV shows emmy awards Sundance Now documentaries a nightmare on elm street ESPN RT History movies Mary Tyler Moore Alien zombies WarnerMedia FX ITV award winner indie Ovation Chernobyl Tarantino The Walking Dead CBS Horror Disney Channel Lifetime child's play Reality reboot Superheroes Black Mirror stand-up comedy APB E! game show Rom-Com toy story politics ID 2017 superhero space Valentine's Day DC Universe diversity witnail Kids & Family YouTube Premium SXSW Comedy Spike ABC Signature adventure series thriller scary movies satire quibi sequels History Podcast Shondaland Comedy Central Netflix rt archives video TCA Awards game of thrones Rocky USA Nickelodeon DGA twilight australia Grammys binge Starz Vudu movie Captain marvel Family X-Men chucky MCU 21st Century Fox CW Seed worst movies news Set visit GoT Election jamie lee curtis psychological thriller MTV miniseries political drama Television Critics Association RT21 Infographic Trailer New York Comic Con Ghostbusters 45 universal monsters 2016 obituary Arrowverse Film Festival dceu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt YouTube Musicals Western anime christmas movies IFC composers Marvel Television hispanic Holiday rom-coms spy thriller Marathons Paramount Network TV Land Song of Ice and Fire Fantasy Funimation Box Office Epix Fall TV best rotten movies we love E3 FXX technology venice A24 dc name the review Quiz crime Bravo mockumentary Spring TV Cosplay cults Summer Hallmark Freeform Musical Amazon Studios Lionsgate TCM harry potter Binge Guide Food Network CMT Peacock Amazon Prime Hulu children's TV The Witch vampires Reality Competition Toys batman spain HBO Max directors GIFs italian Year in Review Columbia Pictures Mary poppins comic Paramount Pixar theme song Amazon social media Superheroe BBC America Classic Film PBS Super Bowl Disney teaser Ellie Kemper Rock versus VOD Holidays TBS FOX zombie revenge MSNBC halloween tv travel Nat Geo USA Network boxoffice Drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina romantic comedy Emmys TV renewals cats Mystery Baby Yoda Turner sitcom San Diego Comic-Con sequel criterion The Arrangement El Rey Awards Tour period drama foreign cinemax slashers zero dark thirty Travel Channel comiccon casting 2018 Film comedies science fiction asian-american OWN Academy Awards Mary Poppins Returns Cartoon Network Calendar See It Skip It Brie Larson 2019 Nominations National Geographic PaleyFest dramedy YA TV DC streaming service TLC IFC Films The Walt Disney Company biography 72 Emmy Awards Premiere Dates romance serial killer Music Certified Fresh nbcuniversal worst stop motion robots cancelled television Avengers facebook hist Spectrum Originals Disney streaming service screenings cartoon sag awards Winter TV VH1 Country anthology halloween dark Adult Swim festival jurassic park comics talk show true crime scorecard Syfy Polls and Games television cancelled TV series discovery Countdown Pop TV 007 documentary natural history war fast and furious Crackle 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards nfl BET TCA Winter 2020 Hallmark Christmas movies Shudder spanish mission: impossible spanish language 4/20 Mudbound Esquire Pet Sematary Character Guide spinoff critics historical drama pirates of the caribbean spider-man Thanksgiving japanese richard e. Grant Comics on TV concert Tubi Mindy Kaling indiana jones cancelled TV shows toronto PlayStation American Society of Cinematographers SundanceTV WGN Rocketman 2015 BBC One psycho