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Movie Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ Is a Fine Slice of Action Cheese

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Ready for action, one-liners and dope-ness? Read our movie review of xXx: Return of Xander Cage for all the good stuff:

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s a smirk on Vin Diesel‘s face and a twinkle in his eye for the constant awareness of the movie he is making. He knows as much as we do about what to expect from such a picture. He knows we don’t really care about some terrorist plot to use satellites as missiles and are more interested in watching him pull off ridiculous stunts. Samuel L. Jackson even flatout boils down this formula: “Kick some ass, get the girl and look dope while doing it.” And xXx: Return of Xander Cage is most certainly dope.

Diesel reprises the role of Xander Cage, retired from the xXx program as a man who now uses his extreme sports skills to steal cable for poor villages. He mountain skis and downhill skateboards away from security forces guarding the tower, just so they can watch the big football match. I can only imagine how he goes out to get groceries.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Samuel L. Jackson and Vin Diesel have a heart to heart.

He’s called back to the secret government program after a group of outlaws has broken into the CIA HQ and stolen a device that can drop satellites from the sky. It’s a standard MacGuffin given the very boring look of a big hard drive and dubbed with the most generic of titles: Pandora’s Box. Where did this device come from and how does it work? Nobody knows and nobody cares. All that matters is getting back that box and keeping the “dope” levels high.

The shrill, no-fun-allowed CIA recruiter Jane (Toni Collette) manages to convince Cage into taking on the mission of finding Pandora’s Box, but not unless he has a crew as crazy as he is. He’s provided with a team of elite soldiers, but they’re no fun as his questioning reveals none of them have done sweet BMX tricks. His colorful team consists of a teal-haired sniper chick (Ruby Rose), a gung-ho former rugby player (Rory McCann) and a fast-handed DJ with the special ability of being “fun to be around”. Why the DJ? Because the movie needs a slick soundtrack and someone to spin records for the rave scene.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Donnie Yen brings the martial arts madness.

Xander’s targets are a rogue group of outlaws led by Donnie Yen. Yen has conflicting views about Pandora’s Box as does his female follower (Deepika Padukone), both debating about whether to keep the box or destroy it. But the movie never slows down to wholly question his motivations and for good reason. A rather standard and boring conversation about national security between Yen, Padukone and Diesel is made all the more exciting by playing a game of grenade hot potato during talks. Their conversation continues over an aquatic bike chase from Russian soldiers as they zip through beaches and over tidal waves. Because Donnie Yen is so likable, he will eventually agree to work with Diesel against a larger threat, but not after they have a fist fight in front of oncoming traffic.

The only element distancing the return of xXx from Diesel’s current Fast and the Furious franchise is the theme of the characters (and Diesel’s name-branding tattoos). Fast and the Furious was all about “family” while xXx seems to be more about trusting nobody except the weirdos. Other than that, this picture mimics the endless carnage of the FF movies, all the glee and absurdity included.

Diesel gets in plenty of big punches while shooting lots of guns, performing lots of stunts and slinging lots of one-liners. These one-liners could be groan-worthy, but Diesel sells them all with enough spirit and energy that even the most cornball of lines become lovable. But in the fight department, Yen clearly steals the show with some intense martial arts and just as much sass as Diesel. The movie practically blows its wad early with Yen smashing through the glass into a boardroom and taking on an entire room of gun-toting suits with his fast footwork and gunplay.

Read more for the rest of the xXx: Return of Xander Cage movie review:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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Movie News

“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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