Weekend Forecast for January 20-22, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
January 20, 2017
Reboot and pointless sequel season is now year-round, apparently, as this weekend is headed by a decade-plus later return to a franchise that seemed a bit silly even at the time. Another controversial figure tries to return to film glory, along with an expanding Oscar hopeful, for a fairly diverse January weekend.
Having gone fully mad with power, Vin Diesel has revived yet another (or should one say, the other) of his moribund franchises with xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. The original film, which debuted back in the heady days of 2002, had Diesel as an extreme sports enthusiast shanghaied into working as a secret agent for... some reason or another lost to time, and which had him use all his tricks to foil whatever plot I can't be bothered to look up (something, something “Bitches, come!”). Hot off the success of the first(!) Fast and the Furious movie, it made a solid $140 million, and then Diesel grew disinterested in the idea. He was replaced with Ice Cube for the sequel and *killed off*, but since when has that ever stopped Hollywood from using an idea?
Anyway, now that Diesel has generated literal *billions* from turning the F&F franchise into a live-action cartoon/superhero movie, he gets to do what he wants, and what he wants to do is something he's already done (it's marketable, you see). So here, he resurrects, almost literally, his character who is waaaaay too old to be all “Extreme!” under the service of Samuel “Cameo” Jackson's CIA handler to fight some other world terrorist, somehow leading him to race motorbikes across the ocean at one point...okay...
Smart enough to realize that he needs a bit of a supporting cast for something like this, there's a team assembled around him of capable action stars and or buzz-worthy people, such as Donnie Yen (recently of Rogue One), Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, and Ice Cube in a sort of emasculating appearance. The hope obviously is that the enormous success of the Fast & Furious franchise will rub off on this one – and it probably will to an extent, in that it has gotten made. However, the power of brand is very, very strong, and the F&F series has also become popular on the extent of its well known characters (well, caricatures), which if there are to be more xXx films, will have to be established here. Reviews peg it as a serviceable action film but the whole exercise seems a bit desperate and should start with around $26 million.
Once Hollywood superstar director M. Night Shyamalan is attempting a return to respectability with Split, his latest horror opus. After temporarily conquering the world in 1999/early 2000s, he sunk into self-parody and believing his own hype, reaching a nadir with The Happening, a contender for all-time terribleness. Two years ago's The Visit may have pulled him out of a nosedive somewhat, and while its $65 million domestic total wasn't amazing, it did manage a few positive reviews for its “scary grandparents” story.