xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
I've seen Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown" twice, and remarkable is the difference between the two versions. Critics were warned before seeing the Toronto film festival version that it was not the final cut, and was it ever not. The new version is 18 minutes shorter, and more than 18 percent better, and wisely eliminates the question of why anyone would want to wear a pair of shoes that whistled.
The final version centers the story where it belongs, on the most unrelenting Meet Cute in movie history. Orlando Bloom plays Drew Baylor, a shoe designer on a red-eye flight to Kentucky, where his father has died during a family visit. Kirsten Dunst plays Claire Colburn, who is the only flight attendant on the plane, just as Drew is the only passenger. He just wants to be left alone. She insists he move up to first class, coddles him, makes bright and perky chat, and more or less insists on Meeting him, Cute or not.
Drew was contemplating suicide when the call came about his father's death. He's the designer of the Spasmodica shoe, a world-famous but flawed new product that his boss (Alec Baldwin) informs him will lose $972 million and is "a failure of mythic proportions, a folk tale that makes other people feel better because it didn't happen to them." Drew's suicide is put on hold for the visit to Elizabethtown, where his father was related to half the population and the best friend of the other half, and where Drew's mother Hollie (Susan Sarandon) is still hated as the woman who kidnapped this beloved man and took him away to live in California. "But we live in Oregon," Drew, his mother and his sister Heather (Judy Greer) keep explaining, but no one is listening.
The movie crosses two familiar kinds of material: The city slicker who encounters the salt-of-the-earth small town types, and the romance that blossoms even while the two participants keep agreeing it is over. Both of these areas are handled gently and with affection, as when Drew offers condolences to everybody about the death of his father, and a relative gently informs him that "condolences" is "an incoming phrase."