Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January

“xXx: The Return of Xander Cage”

Who: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube
What: Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.
When: January 20th
Why: It’s hard to imagine anyone was clamoring for this movie, but after seeing its cast and that insane, hyperactive trailer, “The Return of Xander Cage” at least looks like it will deliver some great action. Donnie Yen is on board with Tony Jaa to elevate the fight sequences, and fans of Yen’s work in “Rogue One” will definitely want to see the kung fu legend in beast mode again. Vin Diesel is doing his best to resurrect this franchise just like he tried (and failed) with “Riddick,” but it worked for “Fast and Furious” and those films are a treat. With any luck, this could be just the right mixture of brainless action and B-movie cheese that’s entertaining to watch and a bit of fun to laugh at too.

“Bastards”

Who: Ed Helms, Owen Wilson, J.K. Simmons and Glenn Close
What: Upon learning that their mother has been lying to them for years about their allegedly deceased father, two fraternal twin brothers hit the road in order to find him.
When: January 27th
Why: This is Lawrence Sher’s first film as a director, though he’s previously worked as a cinematographer on such movies as “The Hangover” series and “Garden State.” That makes Sher a bit of an unknown quantity as a filmmaker, and because the plot sounds like a raunchier version of 1996’s “Flirting with Disaster,” it will likely fall to the talent to sell the jokes. Luckily, there’s an impressive group of actors assembled for this movie, including veterans like J.K. Simmons and Glenn Close. Ed Helms and Owen Wilson are also both solid actors who usually perform at the level of the material, so here’s hoping that “Bastards” manages to create an entertaining story of identity and self-discovery.

“Gold”

Who: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard and Toby Kebbell
What: An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold.
When: January 27th
Why: First thing’s first: Matthew McConaughey is rocking that weirdo hairstyle hard. Beyond that, the trailer does a good job of using Styx’s “Renegade” to score what looks to be a bombastic story of rags to riches to rags. Chartering the life of this little-known tale is Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”), who has always excelled as a screenwriter and whose few turns as a director have been greatly rewarding. The cast is impressive as well, with McConaughey leading the way alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez and Toby Kebbell. This could be 2017’s version of “The Wolf of Wall Street” with its story of an irascible man, his less than honorable path to glory, and the hubris that brings it all crashing down around him.

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”

Who: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Ruby Rose and William Levy
What: Alice must return to the place where her apocalyptic nightmare began in order to make one last stand against the evil Umbrella Corporation.
When: January 27th
Why: This is the sixth “Resident Evil” film, yet we still can’t get a sequel to “Dredd.” Oh well. While I’m not a fan of this franchise, I can honestly say that audiences never know what type of gonzo story they’re going to get with each new installment. Clones, underground worlds, apocalypses on top of apocalypses, and various monsters and mutations have all been a part of these movies at various stages. Though the mythos of the series has become pretty convoluted over the years, at the center of it all has remained Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter. Still, if this is indeed the final chapter, then prepare for all rules to be promptly chucked out the window as it sprints towards the finish line.

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