Film Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Also known as: Mission: Impossible 5 (working title), MI5 (informal title)
Release Date: July 23rd, 2015 (Vienna premiere)
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce
Based on: Mission: Impossible by Bruce Geller
Music by: Joe Kraemer
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris

TC Productions, Bad Robot Productions, Skydance Media, Paramount Pictures, 131 Minutes

Review:

“I can’t protect you, that’s why I need you to leave.” – Ethan Hunt, “That’s not your decision to make, Ethan! I am a field agent, I know the risks! More than that, I am your friend, no matter what I tell the polygraph every week! Now you called me because you needed my help! And you still do! So I am staying! And that is all we are gonna say about that!” – Benji Dunn

Man, I was a fool for quitting this series after the pretty terrible second film. Each movie since then has gotten better and better and frankly, I’m incredibly impressed by these stupendous movies! I shouldn’t have ignored the hype, I should’ve bought in and just enjoyed these on the big screen. Well, thankfully there are two more installments currently being filmed.

Getting into this particular chapter of the franchise, all my favorite surviving members of the series are back and it’s great seeing them pick up where the fourth film left off while also adding in Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson, who I absolutely fucking loved in this. I’m glad they chose to let her stick around for more films after this one, as she hit it out of the park and became the best female in this series almost immediately. Although, I was curious about Paula Patton’s absence and hope that her character appears at some point again, in the future.

This chapter also establishes a great villain and villain group that our heroes have to face. It’s sort of like Ethan Hunt having to face his own version of James Bond‘s SPECTRE but a lot less hammy and a bit more scary, as these film’s tend to veer more towards realism than the classic SPECTRE stories in the earliest Bond movies.

And while this might easily be brushed off as a rehash of that idea or other similar stories with villainous, secret terrorist groups like Hydra or Cobra, this group feels more plausible in the real world.

As is customary with these awesome flicks, the movie is full of incredible stunts and action sequences. While I think the previous film edges out this one in that regard, this is a slightly better movie, overall. That has a lot to do with the story but also in how this expands the mythos in a cool new way while building up from the franchise’s very strong foundation (excluding M:I-2 of course).

In the end, this was near-fucking-perfect for what it is. It gives me hope for the sixth film, which I still haven’t seen, as well as the two sequels yet to come. If the series maintains its quality beyond this chapter, it may become my favorite franchise of the modern era, post-2000.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Mission: Impossible films.

Film Review: The Mummy (2017)

Release Date: May 22nd, 2017 (State Theatre premiere)
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Written by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet
Music by: Brian Tyler
Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe

Universal Pictures, 107 Minutes

Review:

“Please meet Princess Ahmanet. She will claim what she has been denied.” – Dr. Henry Jekyll

Well, it’s here. This is the start of Universal Pictures’ attempt at resurrecting their old school Universal Monsters franchise into something more modern and unified like what Marvel has done with the Avengers series of films and like what DC is now doing with their Justice League movies that started with Man of Steel.

Universal has plans to bring back their classic monsters in what they are now officially calling Dark UniverseThe Mummy is the first of these pictures and one would hope that it would be a great start. The big problem is that it isn’t.

I’ve seen a ton of critics and fans trashing this film. While it isn’t as bad as many would have you believe, it certainly has a lot of issues that kick off this Dark Universe franchise pretty weakly.

The biggest problem is Tom Cruise. I’m not hating on Cruise per se but his inclusion in the picture is a distraction. We essentially have typical Tom Cruise making intense faces and trying to prove his manliness and coolness while two women half his age fight over him. He is just quintessential Tom Cruise and that is not what this film needs.

Going forward, a lot of huge names have been mentioned around this franchise and that’s the problem. Unlike Marvel, Universal doesn’t seem to be casting actors that fit parts the right way, they seem to be latching onto star power for the sake of star power.

Another problem is that there isn’t really a sequence that stands out from this film. Nothing is all that memorable or impressive. Its a collage of cookie cutter action sequences that tries to be something big but falls short.

The attempts at humor throughout the film also fall flat. Jake Johnson is there as Cruise’s wisecracking sidekick zombie but his wisecracks just don’t hit the right notes. Cruise tries his hand at some comic relief too but nothing really works.

While I would say that this is a better film, overall, than those atrocious Mummy films with Brendan Fraser, at least those pictures had some truly fun moments. This new Mummy flick is completely devoid of fun and while it tries to be more terrifying, it really isn’t.

There are a few highlights to the film, however.

The first being Sofia Boutella as the mummy. It was refreshing seeing a female mummy and she had a much better presence than anyone else on screen except for Russell Crowe.

Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yes, THAT Dr. Jekyll. He is in the film the same way Samuel Jackson was in the first Iron Man film; he is the character that is going to tie all of these Dark Universe movies together. We also get a nice peek at Mr. Hyde. Okay, more than just a peek but it sets him up nicely, going forward in this series.

As far as the other famous Universal Monsters creatures, we get a glimpse at the Gillman’s hand and a vampire’s skull. This is was done similar to the Easter eggs in the first Iron Man. But really, it just feels like Universal is trying to emulate Marvel too much and I really don’t know what the end game is? A monster Avengers team? But hopefully Universal can do better with their villains than Marvel has done cinematically.

The Mummy is not a good foundation for a franchise but it was a fair attempt that could have been better. It didn’t deter my interest in what else is coming in the future but that is also due to my love of the original Universal Monsters franchise. These monsters are beloved characters in film and literature and although they have all been reinvented more times than one can count, seeing them come together again could be a real treat if the big wigs at Universal learn from this film’s mistakes and correct those issues going forward.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Release Date: May 28th, 2014 (London IMAX premiere)
Directed by: Doug Liman
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Based on: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Music by: Christophe Beck
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Franz Drameh

Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, Viz Productions, Warner Bros., 113 Minutes

Review:

Edge of Tomorrow was not a film I went into expecting much. Lets be honest, the trailer was subpar, the action looked over the top and really CGI heavy, plus the last few sci-fi outings from Tom Cruise weren’t that great or memorable. Also, the film was directed by Doug Liman who gave us Swingers and The Bourne Identity but he more recently gave us the abominations Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Jumper. What Liman gave us this time, was probably his best film or, at the very least, a film that was at the level of The Bourne Identity in quality.

Tom Cruise’s character did not start out like you think he would in this film. He is pretty much a pussy and forced into an awful suicidal combat situation. It’s what happens to him in that battle that changes him and moves him forward, evolving into Earth’s top bad ass. Granted, Emily Blunt’s character is probably Earth’s top bad ass but Cruise had to go the extra mile. By the way, Blunt was nothing short of fantastic and really ran with this role. If she was less than perfect, I didn’t notice because she had me mesmerized from the moment she came on screen. No, I wasn’t perving out, I was just captivated and damn it, she’s beautiful with mud on her face and a giant buster sword.

This film was based on a Japanese “light novel”, which is essentially their version of young adult novels. It had a very Manga feel to it, especially with Emily Blunt running around with a sword that looked like it was ripped out of the hands of Cloud in Final Fantasy VII.

The cinematography was superb. The big beach battle in the first act of the film was reminiscent of the Battle of Normandy. Except in this war, it was humans versus some tentacled dog aliens that looked pretty friggin’ bad ass. I liked the aliens a lot and they were different and refreshing and certainly not a disappointment like those horrible aliens from Cowboys Vs. Aliens.

I enjoyed this film a lot more than I was anticipating. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means but it is worth your time if you just want a good sci-fi action epic that isn’t a shoddy CGI festival like those deplorable Michael Bay Transformers movies. Edge of Tomorrow is a really good one-off sci-fi treat. I hope they leave it alone and don’t spin this into a franchise, it doesn’t need to be. It’s great the way it is.

Additionally, I’m glad to see Tony Way in this. I’ve liked him since he started out doing bit parts in BBC comedies like Spaced, Black Books and No Heroics.

Rating: 8/10