xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
In the 35 years since its first release, Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” has attained such cult status that it was remade in 1987 for television, and its poster can be glimpsed in the recent “Green Lantern.” It centers on an eerie performance by rock star David Bowie, as an alien from a drought-stricken planet who journeys to Earth in search of water. Bowie, slender, elegant, remote, evokes this alien so successfully that one could say, without irony, this was a role he was born to play.
His character, named Thomas Jerome Newton, splashes to Earth in a remote Western lake, walks into a town, sells some gold rings to raise cash and searches out a patent attorney named Farnsworth (Buck Henry). He offers plans for a group of advanced electronics products (one of them, not so amazing, is a disposable camera that develops its own film). Farnsworth establishes the World Enterprises Corp. to market these inventions, and Newton grows wealthy. His plan, we learn, is to build a spaceship and transport water to his home planet.
This is seen as a desolate desert world whose only visible inhabitants are his family. They wear plastic suits to conserve precious bodily fluids. They apparently live or travel in something that looks like a hunting lodge with wings and runs on a monorail. There is no dialogue on this planet, only sad, spectral gestures.
On Earth, Newton (a name with a lot of gravity) isolates himself and communicates with Farnsworth only by telephone. In a motel, he meets a chirpy young woman named Mary-Lou (Candy Clark). They begin an affair, and she introduces him to gin and tonic and television. He becomes addicted to both, eventually watching several channels at the same time.
The plot thickens. The CIA becomes involved. He is taken captive, and so on. You will discover the story for yourself. The movie is intriguing primarily because of Bowie’s performance as Newton, and Clark’s as the girl (Buck Henry, and Rip Torn as a scientist, could be playing their characters in any movie).