xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
Liev Schreiber's "Everything is Illuminated" begins in goofiness and ends in silence and memory. How it gets from one to the other is the subject of the film, a journey undertaken by three men and a dog into the secrets of the past. The movie is narrated by Alex (Eugene Hutz), a Ukranian whose family specializes in "tours of dead Jews." Alex and his grandfather (also named Alex) drive American Jews in search of their roots to the places where many of their ancestors died.
The trip through a bewildering but beautiful Ukrainian countryside involves a Soviet-era car that may not exactly have air bags. The grandfather is the driver, although he claims to be blind and insists on going everywhere with his "seeing eye bitch," whose name is Sammy Davis Junior Junior. Alex's English seems learned from a thesaurus that was one word off. He tortures words to force them into sentences from which they try to escape, and keeps a journal with chapters like Overture to the Commencement of a Very Rigid Search.
The movie's hero is Jonathan (Elijah Wood), a solemn, goggle-eyed American known as "The Collector" because he accumulates bits and pieces of his life and stores them in Ziploc bags, carefully labeled. He has come to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. To this woman is due much gratitude, because Jonathan's grandmother passed along the belief that the Ukraine treated Jews so badly that if the Nazis invaded, it might be an improvement.
The opening hour or so is a weirdly hilarious comedy, based on the intractable nature of Grandfather (Boris Leskin), his fierce love for Sammy Davis Junior Junior, and his truce with his grandson, who idolizes American popular culture, especially Michael Jackson. When Jonathan tells him Sammy Davis Jr. the First was Jewish, he is astonished: "What about Michael Jackson?" No, says Jonathan, definitely not Michael Jackson.