xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
It has been a good long while since I have felt the presence of Evil so manifestly demonstrated as in the first appearance of Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs." He stands perfectly still in the middle of his cell floor, arms at his sides, and we sense instantly that he is not standing at attention, he is standing at rest - like a savage animal confident of the brutality coiled up inside him. His speaking voice has the precision of a man so arrogant he can barely be bothered to address the sloppy intelligence of the ordinary person. The effect of this scene is so powerful that it underlies all the rest of the movie, lending terror to scenes that do not even involve him.
Like all great entrances in the movies, his is carefully prepared. We learn that his character, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is both a brilliant psychiatrist and a mass murderer, known as "Hannibal the Cannibal" because he eats his victims. He is already behind bars (and unbreakable Plexiglas) when the movie opens, and indeed "The Silence of the Lambs" is about the search for another mass murderer, named "Buffalo Bill," who skins his victims.
Operating on the theory that it takes one to know one, the FBI agent in charge of the case (Scott Glenn) thinks Lecter might be able to provide useful clues in the search for Buffalo Bill. But Lecter toys with most of his inquisitors, or dismisses them, and so the agent hits on the idea of sending in an untried young female trainee (Jodie Foster). Perhaps she will appeal to the monster.
The notion of the beauty and the beast is of course central to horror stories, but, watching "The Silence of the Lambs" for the second time, I began to wonder if the author of the original novel, Thomas Harris, had started the project by jotting down a list of the great universal phobias and dreads. Here is a movie involving not only cannibalism and the skinning of people, but also kidnapping, being trapped in the bottom of a well, decomposing corpses, large insects, being lost in the dark, being tracked by someone you cannot see, not being able to get people to believe you, creatures who jump from the shadows, people who know your deepest secrets, doors that slam shut behind you, beheadings, bizarre sexual perversions, and being a short woman in an elevator full of tall men.