Tag Archives: IMF

“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT” Review (✫✫✫✫)

CREIDT: Paramount Pictures

Good intentions don’t belong in the espionage business.

How many film franchises can you name that have six entries in them? I myself can recall six of them: Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, and Fast & Furious. I can name you several movies from these series’, each of them consequentially getting worse the more they go on. Few of their sixth installments compare to the originals, and none of them are the best in their franchises. I can only name one film that is not only superior to the original, but is also the best entry in their franchise. That film is Mission Impossible: Fallout. 

Picking up a few years after the events of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Fallout finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) on the pursuit of an evil organization called “The Apostles”, trying to stop them from stealing plutonium and starting a nuclear war (as if Ethan would be doing anything else?). This new venture finds Ethan re-teaming up with some old friends including Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), as well as some new faces including CIA director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) and Agent Walker (Henry Cavill).

What do you need to know about Mission Impossible: Fallout? Well for one thing, it’s just like every other Mission Impossible movie out there. Tom Cruise’s sickeningly good-looking mug? Check. Supporting cast that serves as the comedic relief? Check. Evil super villain? Check. A pretty-looking love interest? Check. Shocking plot twists? Check. Ridiculously over-the-top superhuman stunts that only Tom Cruise can seemingly pull off? Triple check. If it’s been in another Mission Impossible movie, it’s definitely here in Fallout.

And yet, Fallout is infinitely more exhilarating than its peers are. Yes, dear reader: even more so than the first Mission Impossible or Ghost Protocol. Why is that? Well like with any great action movie, the key is in its execution, and Fallout is executed here masterfully.

While the plot is relatively straightforward and similar to its predecessors, the stunts and spectacles are pulled off with a conviction that makes them feel urgent and enthralling. I’ve seen all of the Mission Impossible movies, each of them with breathtaking visual feats, from the vault scene in the first movie to scaling the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Ghost Protocol. In each of these movies, the sensational spy action punctuates a picture filled with espionage and intrigue, all while not losing its energy in the process. Fallout is unique to its peers because its excitement and intrigue lasts throughout the picture, barely slowing down for us to even catch our breaths. From the opening firefight to the last spectacular struggle on a cliff edge, Fallout is a movie that racks up the tension with every passing minute: like a time bomb clicking downward.

Then there’s Tom Cruise himself, who seems incapable of slowing down even for a second in both the movies and real life. He’s been a part of this series for well over 20 years now. How does he retain the enthusiasm to not only keep coming back to the same role, but to keep eclipsing his last physical feat film after film after film? I think it’s because like his character Ethan Hunt, he’s unable to leave the past behind and always feels like there’s something left unfinished. With most franchises, some actors will return to recurring roles just to get another paycheck or another press tour. I feel like Cruise is one of those actors that is motivated to keep outdoing himself with each role that he accepts. The stunts he pulls off in this film are so ridiculous that he even injured himself during one of the shoots late last year. The guy is 56 years old, as old as both of my parents. Yet he seems more enthusiastic for this franchise now than he did when he was in his 30’s when he first started.

The film is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who seems to be sharpening his technique in a crowd full of writers-turned-filmmakers. His first collaboration with Cruise in 2012’s Jack Reacher was fun albeit straightforward, while the last Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation seemed way too preposterous to be taken seriously, even by IMF’s standards. Fallout is a reckoning for both McQuarrie and the Mission Impossible franchise. It not only brings together the greatest elements from all of the Mission Impossible films, but it makes you forget that it’s even part of a franchise and immerses you masterfully in the tension of the moment.

Fallout is the sixth movie in the Mission Impossible franchise, but it’s so hot-blooded and exciting that it feels like it’s the first in a breakthrough: a rebirth, if you will. There was one moment in the picture when Benji asks Ethan how close they were to failing the mission. Ethan laughs: “The usual.”

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“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION” Review (✫✫1/2)

More like a city, or a gated community.

I’m really starting to get sick of these action movies. I know, I know, how do I get sick of action? Well, have you ever seen a television episode over, and over, and over again to the point where it frustrated you just to look at it? That’s where I’m at with these action movies that are getting recycled summer after summer after summer.

I was really hoping Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation wasn’t going to be another recycled action pic. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting it. The film is at a 93% from critics on RottenTomatoes, while users rate it at a 91%. Metacritic users rate it an 8 out of 10. Cinemascore polls it at an A-. Everyone around me seems to be fervently enjoying the action romp that is Mission Impossible. Everyone, that is, except me.

So what happened? Simply put, I think audiences were expecting something different from me. I’ve seen four of these movies now before watching Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and with each one, I got something different. The first Mission Impossible pitted a younger Ethan Hunt against two opposing spy agencies, along with the gravity of seeing his entire team get killed on a deadly mission. The third Mission Impossible found Hunt breaking out of retirement to rescue his wife, who was held captive at the hands of a cruel terrorist threat. The fourth Mission Impossible found Ethan dealing with his wife’s death after the events of MI3. We won’t count Mission Impossible II, because that’s not a real Mission Impossible movie.

With Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (once again, portrayed by Tom Cruise) is pitted against both his own government and yet another secret spy agency named the Syndicate, comprised of insurgent IMF agents labeled as either missing or dead. That’s it. He has no personal investment in the story, no driving emotional force that focuses on him and him only. At one point in the movie, one of his closest friends gets kidnapped by the syndicate and he starts freaking out about it. Right. How many times did someone get kidnapped in your other movies, Ethan?

His supporting characters includes most of his crew from the fourth Mission Impossible. Ving Rhames is back as Vincent, returning once again to help Ethan Hunt since their first mission in the original Mission Impossible. The comedic relief Benji is once again portrayed by self-employed funny man Simon Pegg. Jeremy Renner returns as William Brandt, acting as Ethan’s voice of reason against all of his crazy ideas of stunts. Considering Cruise does all of his own stunts, I think Renner needs to be his voice of reason off-screen as well.

The first thing you need to know about Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is that the visuals do not disappoint. The one thing every movie in the series is most known for is its spectacle, and Rogue Nation keeps the tradition going strong. In one fight scene early in the film, Ethan was fighting a swarm of syndicate agents while handcuffed at both his wrists and ankles. In another, he’s quietly struggling against a sniper on top of a German opera production while the performance is still going on. My favorite is probably when he has to hold his breath under water for six minutes in what is essentially an underwater hard drive as he switches out two data disks. It’s important to note, Cruise actually trained with a diving specialist in order to hold his breath under water for three minutes. The sequence we see in the film was actually shot in one take with no edits.

The stunts we see in the film are impressive to say the least. The danger with a fifth entry, however, is that I’ve been impressed four times already. Whatever stunts are to come, I’m already expecting. And since I’ve seen these crazy stunts in four movies now, the effect is dulled before I even see it.

For instance, the big stunt people were excited for in this movie specifically was a sequence where Cruise is holding on outside of an airplane while it is taking off. Impressive as it was, it was the very first scene in the movie. Since I’ve already seen the trailer, I know Cruise survives this sequence, otherwise why would we even have a movie? How am I supposed to feel tension and excitement in a scene where I already know what’s going to happen?

The cast is appropriate, but ineffective. They serve the same roles they’ve done from other movies and that’s about it. How is Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt? The same he’s been for four movies now. How is Jeremy Renner? About as good as he was in Ghost Protocol, except now he’s less interesting because he doesn’t have the investment and guilt he had in Ghost Protocol. Pegg is the same. Rhames is the same. The only characters that are different are the new characters, which includes its baddie played by Sean Harris and its discount Bond girl played by Rebecca Ferguson. Again, what do these characters have to offer that we haven’t seen before? The late Phillip Seymour-Hoffman did a better job manipulating and pushing Ethan past his limits in the J.J. Abrams-directed Mission Impossible III than Harris did in this movie. And Ferguson? Did she not see Emmanuelle Béart in her brilliantly deceptive performance in the original Mission Impossible?

I caught myself saying one thing over and over again during the film: “I’ve seen this before.” For a movie series that’s lasted past five films, that’s not a good thing. Funny, this movie is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is responsible for writing The Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow and directing Jack Reacher, all films with their own unique interest and personality. Now he has made Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and like Ethan’s assigned missions, his movie blew up in my face after it gave me what it was supposed to.

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“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II” Review (✫✫)

So ridiculous, it can only happen in a movie.

I wonder what it would be like to write action scenes in a screenplay. Not briefly, mind you, but over an extended period of time. We are so used to these action movies that contain nothing but wall-to-wall action, violence, exploding, shooting, stabbing, kicking, punching, and body-dropping all over the place. Few of those movies have worthwhile plot or dialogue to them, which are the main tools a screenwriter uses when writing their screenplay. I imagine writing an action movie for them would be a nightmare. There’s nothing interesting to write about except for who dies next.

I feel especially sorry, then, for screenwriter Robert Towne, who is normally known for his smart, driving plots found in movies like Chinatown, The Firm, indeed, even the first Mission Impossible, now stuck to writing about nothing but explosions, gunfire, broken bones, ribs, limbs, and jaws, with a little twinge of intrigue placed somewhere in this muck of explosions and action. Mission Impossible II is not the movie that the first Mission Impossible was. The first Mission Impossible had memorable characters, iconic situations, and an in-depth and mysterious plot that kept your interest for every second of that movie. Its sequel Mission Impossible II has nothing the first one had except for its action. The characters, while likable, are also disposable, and lack any emotional conviction to make me really care for anyone for a long period of time. The plot is utterly pointless. Like this movie, it exists only to provide reason for the action, rather than the other way around.

MI2 follows agent Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) pursuit of an ex-IMF agent named Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who is impersonating Hunt through the same face-masks from the first film. What is Ambrose after, and what does Hunt’s identity have to do with it? He is after a harmful chemical known as “Chimera”, a terrible virus that infects the host in a matter of hours, takes his cells, eats them, and kills the host as slowly and painfully as possible. The doctor who made this is named Vladmir Nekhorvich (Rade Serbegija), and he has been a close friend of Hunt’s for some unknown period of time now (Although he keeps calling him “Dimitri”, for some  reason).

This film is directed by John Woo, who is mostly known for his ridiculous, overly-long, overly-explosive action scenes in his movies. His action scenes are so ridiculous, that he makes Michael Bay shrivel up in his seat. This movie is no exception. Mission Impossible II is just as explosive, outlandish, insane, exhilarating and visually stellar as any other John Woo movie is, and that includes movies such as Broken Arrow and Face/Off.

On one hand, this is a good thing, considering Woo makes some incredible action sequences at some moments in this movie. I remember one scene where Tom is fighting off countless professional assassins in a chemical building while trying to destroy a sample of “Chimera” in the process. That gunfight was insane. Cruise was fighting off countless assassins with grenades, Uzi-Subs, and M-104’s, and what does Tom have to fight off against them? A pistol. It is these impossible odds that stacks up the action scenes to incredible heights, and makes for very entertaining, exciting moments in this movie.

Unfortunately, Woo focuses too much on the action. The difference between this film and his earlier film Face/Off is that Face/Off had a smart, original, and fascinating plot, while Mission Impossible II just copies elements from other action films. Stop me if you’ve seen any of this before: A) A Bond-type action hero that beats bad guys to a pulp and always gets the girl, all while looking incredibly sexy to the female audience with his long hair flowing freely in the wind, B) The hero falling madly in love with a woman who is just as sexy to the male population as the hero is to the female, C) The hero eventually having to rescue the damsel from distress, D) The sinister villain is introduced and narrates a plan so ridiculous, it can only happen in movies, E) An excruciating length of a 40 minute action sequence takes place, F) The villain dies at the end of the movie, and G) The hero and his lover kiss at the end of the movie and walk into the sunset in a “Happily Ever After” kind of concluding tone.

Could that entire paragraph be technically considered a spoiler? No, it can’t, because we’ve all seen that movie before. Is it really so surprising that the villain dies, and the woman is saved from danger at the end of the movie? Is it really so shocking? You might enjoy seeing the same thing over and over again, but I can’t stand it. I can’t stand movies that have a method to it. I can’t stand movies that follow formulas. Granted, I don’t want a movie where the villain lives and the hero dies with his love next to him, but geez, throw something unpredictable in there. Action without point is no action at all. It is just headaches.

That’s not to say that the strong points still don’t hold up to what we expect them to be. I already said the action is amazing, and it is. The music has definitely improved from the last movie, and Hans Zimmer inserts a nice rock twist to the famous theme that made the series iconic by right. Cruise especially shines in this movie just as much as he did in the first movie. In the first sequence he’s introduced in, Cruise makes an impossible rock climb over a canyon in nothing but a sleeveless shirt and a waist pouch with gripping dust in it. Remember something here: that’s not CGI, and that’s not a stunt double. Cruise is doing his own stunts, meaning he actually free-climbed up this deathly-high slab of rock. I think he secretly has a death wish for pulling off stunts as stupidly risky as this, but I hold my respect to him for having the audacity to even think about pulling off a stunt like that. It is moments like that that really impresses the audience, and what I think, makes Cruise a very credible and successful actor. He’s willing to pull off whatever he can in order to impress the audience.

But the strong points of this film pales to the weaknesses. Mission Impossible II is all style, and no substance. It has plenty of action, explosions, and body counts to overwhelm you with, but it lacks interest and consistency in between the action scenes with its stupid dialogue, and its plot that is as incredulous and predictable as any other action film can be. I’ve said before that I don’t mind action films as long as they are good ones. This is an ambitious one, but it’s too similar to other action movies to say it’s a “good” one. In the end, this movie to me is like a magician trying to con you at the circus. He shows off its tricks to you, but when he’s done, he turns and says to you “Sorry kid, no refunds”.

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“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE” Review (✫✫✫✫)

Your mission: survive.

Now this is what an action blockbuster is supposed to be: smart, exciting escapism entertainment that makes its audience think rather than overloading them with special effects. Mission Impossible is pure fun, starting with its intelligent, masterful plot, and carrying itself through with state-of-the-art special effects, credible acting, and relatable characters that have a purpose in the conflicts they are going through. You don’t have that many movies where the characters are as fleshed out as the action is.

Mission Impossible follows the perspective of a young agent named Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who works for a secret agency known as the IMF. His leader, James Phelps (Jon Voight), is given a mission to capture a fugitive who is after the “Noc List”, a file that categorizes every IMF agent working undercover in the field. If the Noc list ever got into criminal hands, many IMF agents’ lives would be in danger.

That’s where Phelps and his team come in: their mission is to capture this thief on-camera stealing the Noc list, follow him to a meeting with his buyer, and apprehend the both of them.

The mission goes desperately wrong. One by one, Ethan’s team is killed off, and Ethan is the only one to walk away. Now, IMF believes he is a traitor because the thief got away from Ethan Scott-free. Now alone with no backup and no resources, Ethan has to not only recover the Noc list, but also find out who is responsible for his team’s mission failure, as well as clear his name for the crimes he didn’t commit.

Here is a spy movie lived to its fullest. Going undercover in tuxedoes and bow ties while sipping martinis and champagne, these spies use their wits, not their weaponry, to outsmart their foes. And their weaponry itself… dear lord. They utilize such a wide array of complicated spy equipment that would floor anyone who would just take a glance at them. What we have here isn’t just guns, pistols, and radar jammers: we also have trip wires, laser security, balance beams, harnesses, suction gloves, and these latex masks that allow agents to copy the facial features of another person. There is a lot of spy tech and gear for the characters to play around with in this movie, and boy, do they play around with it.

With such tools at a spy’s disposal, you can only infer how good the action looks. They are as explosive and action-packed as a James Bond movie is, and as exciting and surreal as a Tom Clancy thriller. Here is a movie that holds nothing back. It lets loose freely in its field of CGI and special effects, and the result is the most spectacular because of it. I can recall a few moments in this film that can be called iconic by right. My favorite, interestingly enough, has to be one of the film’s most quiet moments: an espionage scene where Ethan is slipping into a room that has motion sensors, pressure sensors, audio sensors, laser sensors, really anything with the word “sensor” in it. This is the scene where the movie earns the right to call itself Mission Impossible, because that’s exactly what this mission is: impossible. Except for the fact that Ethan and his team pull it off.

But action without plot is like frosting without the cake. I’m a picky viewer. For me, there needs to be a reason, and a good reason, for all of the action and explosions to be taking place in the film. Mission Impossible is a different action movie because of this. Its plot is complex, deep, deceptive, weighty, and manipulative, a plot that twists and turns and scurries about in all directions all while maintaining its narrative and purpose in a consistent, healthy flow. I expect many viewers will be confused and irritated by how much writer Robert Towne is making them think. They need to step back and actually analyze the movie they’re watching for a change. Mission Impossible is well worth the analysis. This is a movie that doesn’t cheat, and it doesn’t rob you of anything from this experience.

There are few movies I have seen where the plot and the characters match the appeal already provided by the special effects and explosions on the screen. Here is a movie where the story exceeds the visual effects. Director Brian De Palma utilized this film’s premise to its fullest, and gave actual meaning behind the plot and the spectacular action sequences we see in this movie. Here is a film that is truly one of its kind. It is perhaps one of the best action films I have ever seen.

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