Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation


Viewed – 03 August 2015  Cinema

Good to see that one of our most enduring Hollywood stars can still deliver a pulse-pounding action extravaganza even as he settles into his fifth decade on this planet.  Add to this the fact he does many of his own stunts, and actor Tom Cruise is the real deal, regardless of what some may think of him personally.

Rogue

Cruise plays super-agent Ethan Hunt who, currently in hiding and ‘gone rogue’ is trying to unmask the real identity of secret organization ‘the syndicate’ whilst back at Langley, CIA headquarters the big wigs are disbanding the IMF.  Following a lead in London, Hunt witnesses the murder of a contact and the revelation that those he believed he worked for may be involved in a global conspiracy.   Like Ghost Protocol before it, this is a confident and well directed spy movie full of fancy gadgets, intense action and lots of double-crossing.  Director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) has put together what feels like the Mission Impossible movie we’ve all been waiting for – the action feels bigger, the locations more diverse and glamorous (London, Paris, Vienna etc.) and the story seems more dramatic.  Add to this a wonderful discovery in actress Rebecca Ferguson, who may be the sexiest (and deadliest) femme-fatale we’ve had on screen in years, and with excellent comedic support from Simon Pegg – this almost has it all.

Rogue NationI felt that even for an M.I. movie, sometimes the stunts and situations get a little implausible (a somersaulting car?), and some moments were just plane ludicrous (the admitedly tense under water sequence).  Also, creepy-demeanour aside, the villain was again like Ghost Protocol, rather one-dimensional.  It was a shame to also see Jeremy Renner not be fully utilized for such a gifted actor … but regardless, this was still a shot of adrenaline to the heart and packed full of memorable moments, an amazing car turned bike chase, and an ending that made me want to stand up and applaud.  With Spectre on the horizon, I’d say in the spy movie world, this is going to take some beating.

Over to you, Mr Bond.

Verdict:  4 /5

Top 10 Films – Tom Cruise


Craig:

Here’s a great post over at Jordan and Eddie (the movie guys) on one of my favourites, Tom Cruise…well timed with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation just released…

Originally posted on Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys):

Cruise The smile that has served Cruise so well through over 3 decades in Hollywood

List compiled by Eddie on 31/07/2015

A polarizing figure off camera and a commanding presence on it, Tom Cruise’s stature as one of the industry’s highest earning and most renowned performers has set him on a pillar that makes him an easy target for ridicule that often pays no heed to his varied and often hugely impressive filmography.

Cruise is often thought of as an 80’s and 90’s heartthrob and an actor most at home performing death defying stunts and while these elements of his career are undeniable, a closer inspection into Cruise’s list of film unearths evidence of a talented actor who has been nominated for 3 career Oscar’s and worked with most of Hollywood’s directing A-list, a varying career that for many would be but a pipe-dream.

Picking the 10 top films from Cruise’s…

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American Sniper


Viewed – 01 August 2015  Online rental

Certainly one of the most talked about movies in recent memory that garnered a lot of attention around awards season, even though it was largely snubbed.  A shame as this true story of elite Navy Seal Sniper ‘Chris Kyle’ is powerful and very well acted, and a career best I’d say for actor Bradley Cooper.

American Sniper

During several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kyle and his band of brothers face battles and atrocities as they attempt to track down various targets and get back home in one piece.  A rather unrecognisable Sienna Miller plays Kyle’s wife who is fighting her own battles raising two children whilst worrying about their father, as he becomes more and more traumatised by the horrors he witnesses.  This is a totally engrossing and authentic experience that pulls few punches when showing just how terrible war can get, and with the setting of a present day conflict, the back drop of 9/11 and real-world terrorism, I found this educational and heart breaking.  Cooper is excellent, considerably beefed up and probably more earnest and believable than I’ve ever seen him – he really went for it here, and it pays off.  If I was to nit-pick, I could say some of the other characters, such as Kyle’s brother and the other marines were under developed.  Also Iraqi locales are all portrayed rather one-dimensionally. Yet with a very strong central performance and some well directed action and battle scenes with plenty of tension – this was still a pretty formidable experience, that left me rather shaken.

Clint Eastwood once again proves he’s as much a presence behind the camera as he is in front, and has delivered a very well made, respectful and thought-provoking study of the harrowing effects of war and that of a true American hero.  Essential.

Verdict:  5 /5

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines


Viewed – 28 July 2015  Blu-ray

Following in the wake of the seminal classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day was not going to be an easy task.  Director Jonathan Mostow however, whilst not being James Cameron, has managed to deliver a decent if flawed entry in one of my favourite movie franchises.

terminator 3

John Conner (Nick Stahl) is a loner drifter who ten years following the events of T2 has seen Judgement day come and go without a Nuclear War and thus chooses to live off the radar.  That is until a female Terminator known as a T-X arrives in town, hell bent on tracking down a series of targets, including veterinary doctor Catherine (Claire Danes).  As before however, another cyborg follows and this time ol’ Arnie is out to protect John Connor and Catherine and goes up against the most advanced Terminator yet.

This continues but fails to innovate on the Terminator lore, with several copycat sequences borrowed straight from T1/T2 but given corny jokes or silly updates that prevent this movie gaining it’s own identity.  Kristanna Loken is effective and subtly-sexy as the female Terminator (that arrival…) and proves a worthy villain, while Danes adds some good female feistiness in the absence of Linda Hamilton.  Stahl however can’t fill the boots of Edward Furlong and lacks all of his charisma and personality; delivering a character who, however pivotal to the plot, is difficult to like or even sympathise with.  Schwarzenegger thankfully looks like he’s having a ball, even if his line-delivery and the sheer-bad-assery of previous (and even the latest) movies is lacking here.  As a competent director though, Mostow does manage to fill the movie with some terrific action (a huge, multi-vehicle chase thatJohn Connor obliterates many shops and buildings comes to mind…) decent effects and a good pace.  It’s just a shame then that with all such ingredients intact, we still get a movie that brings no real surprises and is stuck with a rather limp ending.  That said, on it’s own merits, this was still a fun, action-packed experience with a few stand-out moments.  Even as the weakest of the franchise, T3 is by no means a disaster.

The Blu-ray may lack a bit of punch in the image quality, but makes up for this in a hefty Dolby True HD soundtrack that really comes to life during the action sequences.  However it’s in the extras where this release impresses most, with several featurettes spanning all aspects of the making.  Most notably we also get a cast & crew commentary and a special cine-chat talking heads feature that plays along as you watch.    Not too shabby for a still enjoyable also-ran.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3.5 /5

Still Alice


Viewed – 25 July 0215  pay-per-view

Few can argue the versatility and sheer talent of actress Julianne Moore who I think has come on leaps and bounds over the years to become the new Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren.  This award winning drama could also be the pinnacle of her career so far.

still alice

Moore plays Alice, a college professor who is diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease, a rare onset of the illness considering she’s only 50.  With her husband and two daughters around for support we watch as the symptoms gradually get worse and worse and she struggles to cope in her life as the person she’s always been gradually slips away.  It’s a hard hitting subject make no mistake, and is portrayed well if you know anything about the disease.  My mother used to work with elderly patients suffering from the disease so as I watched the film with her she marvelled at how accurate it all was.  Moore is simply amazing and heart-breaking, expressing every little detail of frustration and bewilderment as she starts to forget things or lose track of what she’s doing or where she is.   Alec Baldwin is decent as her husband but the casting of two of the blandest actresses currently working (Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart) as Alice’s daughters let’s the side down somewhat as they struggle to convey such strong emotions on expression-free, personality-free faces.  Honestly, does Stewart only have one look no matter what she is saying?

Above all else though this is Julianne Moore’s gig and she’s every bit worthy of those Oscar and Golden Globe nods.  The movie portrays a very cruel disease intelligently, finding room for humour amongst the despair and I came away surprised at how much the story moved me.

Verdict:  4 /5