xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
X-rays can pass through the human body in much the same way that certain movies can pass through my mind. Hold up a photographic plate on the other side, and all you'd see would be some kidneys and a paper clip. I went to see "The Usual Suspects" twice and could not persuade my mind to engage with it, and "Best Laid Plans" is the same kind of experience.
I am prepared to concede that I missed the boat on "The Usual Suspects." So many people like it so much that they must have their reasons. I will see it yet again one of these days. I vividly remember Kevin Spacey's performance, which I enjoyed for its energy and texture, but I remember him sort of floating through the movie without hitting anything. I do not feel the need to see "Best Laid Plans" again. It's not that I don't remember it. It's that I don't care.
There is a moment in a certain kind of movie when I realize I am being toyed with. That everything is Not As It Seems. That we're trapped in a labyrinth of betrayals, double-reverses, surprises and astonishing revelations, and that whatever is being established in this scene will be destroyed in the next. It's not just that I don't care--it's that the movie doesn't, either. Its characters are pawns in a chess game, and all the action is designed to reveal hidden traps and buried strategies.
There are some double-reverse movies that work. "Body Heat" comes to mind. But "Body Heat" was not an exercise. It was a conspiracy with a purpose, a motivation, and an outcome. At every moment I cared about the characters--I believed in them, and it made a difference what they'd do next. I was being toyed with, but not merely being toyed with.