Weekend Movies: I Live for This Split!

This weekend brings yet another Vin Diesel franchise that the actor once walked away from but is now embracing, and M. Night Shyamalan’s return to form. In addition, we get a faith-based family flick and the McDonald’s origin story.

As no surprise, the widest release of the week is ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage‘. Vin Diesel starred in the original ‘xXx‘ but passed on the sequel (which starred Ice Cube). He’s now back for the third installment. It’s been 12 years since the ‘State of the Union’ opened and flopped, but Sony doesn’t care. Moviegoers still fuel the absurd ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, so why wouldn’t they come back to see the forgettable x-treme antihero’s return? In this round, Cage must form a group of baddies that will help him catch a fellow group of criminal adrenaline seekers who have stolen a PlayStation Vita that has the ability to use orbiting satellites as precision missiles. Stealing heavily from ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ and ‘Suicide Squad’, ‘Return of Xander Cage’ takes a ‘Furious 7’ approach by going all-out over-the-top, not just in the action scenes, but in the dialogue too. This movie wants you to know that it’s being intentionally absurd so much that it literally spells out its stupidity on-screen. Bad movies are great when they’re naturally bad, but this one tries so hard to be bad that the entertainment is stripped right out of it.

Last year, M. Night Shyamalan began his road to redemption with the micro-budget horror flick ‘The Visit‘. This week, he completes the trek back to greatness with a Hitchcockian thriller that’s certain to get cheers out of those who’ve waited for him to deliver something as good as ‘The Sixth Sense’ or ‘Unbreakable’ again. ‘Split‘ focuses on three teenage girls who are abducted by a creepy villain claiming to host 23 individual personalities within him. Will they be able to escape the underground prison before his 24th and most disturbing persona surfaces? You’ll just have to see for yourself. Both James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy (‘The Witch’) deliver performances that live up to Shyamalan’s execution of this stellar film.

Have you ever wondered how the fast food giant McDonald’s came to be? Me neither. Until now, I couldn’t have cared less. But just like Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher’s telling of the creation of Facebook, the McDonald’s origin film ‘The Founder‘ makes a surprisingly compelling tale. The less you know about the story, the better. Michael Keaton gives an awesome performance as the down-and-out salesman who captured edible lightning in a bottle and single-handedly turned it into the world’s biggest brand. Originally promoted as a 2016 Oscar contender, The Weinstein Company pushed its release out to this week after awards screeners were sent out. ‘The Founder’ may be lacking the secret sauce that would have given it Oscar buzz, but it’s still pretty great and definitely worth checking out.

Lastly, we have ‘The Resurrection of Gavin Stone‘. High Top Releasing has made a profit out of distributing faith-based movies that require zero marketing – which is exactly why most of us haven’t heard of this film until now. The story follows a down-in-the-dumps child actor who’s mandated to perform community service at a local church. Once there, he learns of the church’s upcoming play and gets an itch to land the role of Jesus in the play. Pretending to be a Christian, he goes out for the part and happens to learn a life-changing lesson.

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