Tag Archives: Simon Pegg

“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: GHOST PROTOCOL” Review (✫✫✫1/2)

Pray for Tom Cruise’s sanity.

There is something seriously wrong with Tom Cruise if he is not pissing his pants while scaling up the world’s tallest building in Dubai. In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, he shows he’s more daring by stumping a feat that he matched in MI2 where he free-climbed up a canyon wearing nothing but a safety harness. This time, he’s climbing up the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, which happens to be the world’s tallest building at a whopping 829 meters. That’s the equivalent of three Eiffel towers.

What is wrong with him?

This feat, among others, demonstrates that Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is by far one of the most visually spectacular of all the Mission Impossible movies. It’s also one of the more entertaining ones as well. Like the other Mission Impossible movies, there is never a dull moment, and never a thrill wasted. There is appeal in every scene of every shot, whether it is a ridiculous chase/action sequence, a precise line of exposition, a humorous exchange of dialogue between characters, or Cruise pulling off yet another stupidly insane stunt that would probably kill anyone else. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the definition of great moviemaking.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol takes place a few years after the events of the third Mission Impossible. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who was previously happily married to his wife, Julie (Michelle Monoghan), is now incarcerated and in a federal prison in Moscow, Russia. What he’s doing there, we have no idea. Not until later in the movie.

He is broken out of prison with the help of two IMF agents: agents Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg), who you would remember as the dorky, but funny, computer geek we saw in Mission Impossible III. They are ordered to break Hunt out of prison for one reason: assistance on an upcoming mission where they have to break into the Kremlin to discover the identity of “Cobalt”, a global criminal who intends to start an international nuclear war in order to issue a new era of peace. His idea is similar to Ozymandias’ in the 2009 film Watchmen: before humanity can be saved, there first needs to be something to save them from. That is, at least, what “Cobalt” believes.

Here is a film where the visual spectacle and design of the film overwhelms the story that is being told. In the two previous Mission Impossible movies, that was a weakness. Here though, I applaud it for its ambition in visual spectacle and for its audacity to impress the audience in sheer spirit and style alone. Besides the climbing of the Burf Khalifa sequence, I can name many other sequences that really impressed me, such as the prison break scene in Moscow, the breaking into the Kremlin, a chase scene between Ethan and “Cobalt” in Dubai, and a final spectacular fight sequence that takes place in a car lot in India. I was so impressed by all of these sequences that I went back to the theater to watch it again just for those scenes alone.

Don’t think for a second, however, that just because the story is secondary to the action, it doesn’t mean it cannot hold up on its own. One thing I was initially worried about with this movie was how it would handle being a sequel to Mission Impossible III, which I thought was a fine way to end the franchise on a happy note. How they tie that movie into this one is brilliant, and there are many moments where we can pick up what happened to Ethan and Julie in between the events of MI3 and Ghost Protocol. This is where the film’s emotional appeal comes from. Ethan is trying to recover from what happened with him and Julie in the past, and as husbands and lovers, we can sympathize with Ethan and his problems. It isn’t tear-wrenching, but it doesn’t need to be. It gets a response from its viewers, and it doesn’t need an explosion and a falling building to get it. As a movie that is action-focused, it impresses me that the movie focuses on all the areas that it needs to: not just the ones that will bring it the biggest bucks.

Cruise, of course, is as slick, cool, and crazy as he always is, and comes back to this movie with the same charm and charisma that made him an icon in the original “Mission Impossible” movies. Paula Patton, who is most known in supporting roles like “Déjà Vu”, “Precious” and recently “Jumping The Broom” plays here yet another supporting role who is just as effective in other movies as she is here. She is smart, ambitious, and incredibly passionate, who puts in everything she can into every shot. And, if I may say so, she looks damn good while doing it.

Two actors who I felt had great presence in the film: Benji, played by Simon Pegg, and a new character named Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker. I loved both of them in this movie. If Cruise and Patton provided the action-packed, exciting moments in the movie, these two provided the comedic relief. I can remember countless lines of dialogue from them both that made me and everyone else in the theater laugh. One especially funny scene was basically a re-enactment of the iconic dangling scene from the first Mission Impossible movie. Was it exciting, suspenseful, and nerve-wracking? Yes, but Benj’s oblivious comments combined with Brandt’s agitated responses culminated for a very funny moment that started off very unnerving and heart-pounding. Few films have the capacity to be able to switch from one tone to another; this film does it with surprising efficiency.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is that this is the director’s first live-action film. Director Brad Bird is famous for animated critical successes such as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, but no live-action films prior to Mission Impossible. How was he able to make this and make it look so amazing? Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is visually spectacular, sharply humorous, and relentlessly spirited and invigorating. It may not be the best Mission Impossible, but it is definitely the best sequel.

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“THE WORLD’S END” Review (✫✫✫)

These poor dims have had too much to drink.

We’ve all known that kid somewhere in our high school years. Yes, you know who I’m talking about. That kid. That kid as in, the troublemaker. The smart talker. The womanizer. The drinker. The guy who turns heads and raises eyebrows, the guy whose only concerned with having a good time and not much else. They act on impulse, spontaneity, paying no second thoughts to doubt or common sense. They don’t think about their future or what they’re going to do after high school. They don’t live in the future. They live in the moment.

That same trouble-making, lady-loving, drink-guzzling, bad-mouthed rebel is known in this movie as Gary King (Simon Pegg), a poor old sap in rehab who misses the old days and just wants them back again. In order to do this, he reaches out to his old british friends from high school to go and complete “The Golden Mile”, a long pub crawl of twelve different pubs in his old town of Newhaven, where the crawl ends at the most popular pub of all, appropriately called “The Worlds End.”

His friends are now all estranged successful businessmen, but they all lack the energy and perhaps foolhardy excitement that Gary loves to constantly express. Perhaps the best of his friends, however, is one Andy Knighly (Nick Frost), a once-cheerful young fellow, now an old, depressed office worker trying to win back the affections of his wife and children. The last thing he needs is to go on this trip with Gary, but if there’s one thing Andy knows, its that you don’t say no to the King.

They go to their hometown where they started the Golden Mile, and they notice a lot of things have changed since they were last there. Why? Well, that’s because alien robots have taken the town over.

……WHAT?!?!?!? No, dear reader, I am not drunk. Alien robots took over Newhaven, and Gary King discovers this by knocking one’s head off after he slid on his own urine in the bathroom. When he recoups with his friends later on at the bar, they decide that they need to keep going on their route so as not to raise suspicion, and later quietly slip out of town. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not when you have four drunk guys traveling along a total fool. Good luck with that, fellas.

Co-written and directed by Edgar Wright, The World’s End is the birth child of an unofficial trilogy of Pegg, Wright, and Frost’s previous work together, including Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. For those who’ve seen those previous movies and are expecting a pompous, outlandish experience just like those pictures, you’re not far off. The World’s End is, by every definition, a ridiculous, ludicrous, and far-out experience, a preposterous and purposefully silly picture to the point where it surpasses being stupid and starts being funny. It’s like those older television skits by Monty Python: they undeniably immature and stupid by nature, but there’s an inherent wit and silliness to them that can’t help but make them so much fun.

Case in point: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s chemistry. In the past, their character’s relationship involved a budding romance in a cheesy “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” type of ordeal. Here, the relationship is more strained, almost like Frost is a babysitter and its his turn to supervise little baby Simon so he doesn’t eat sand from the playground. Their characters are hilarious because they’re polar opposites: because Pegg plays the ambitious, over-the-top party boy while Frost is the more conserved, more easily frustrated business man.  Remember the chemistry between John Candy and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, where the frustrated business guy (Martin) keeps having to monitor the guy (Candy) who is oblivious, foolish and hopeless? Same case here, although the roles are more or less switched between the two actors.

And then the robots. Oh my God, are they hilarious. In Shaun Of The Dead we had zombies, and in Hot Fuzz we had crooked cops. Now, we have supernatural alien robots, although they hilariously keep insisting that they are not robots because they have sentiment and free will. Anyhow, the funniest thing is how the group reacts to them, tearing off their body parts, whacking themselves with their arms, legs, and anything else they can pull off of their bodies. It’s like someone combined the Lego minifigures with Whack-A-Mole and then decided to throw blue kool-aid somewhere into the mix. Just trust me, it gets messy.

I’m overanalyzing this. The question I should be answering is this: did it make me laugh? The answer: Yes it did, consistently and abundantly, and what’s even more important is that it had something more to offer than simply entertainment. It had a deeper message to tell its audience, and instead of celebrating foolishness and drunkenness, it decided to touch upon a deeper subject involving friendship and true happiness.

I won’t spoil the segment for you, because for me it was the best scene out of the whole movie. I will say this though: most movies, including Project X, 21 And Over, and the dreaded Hangover series take alcoholism and play it out like its fun, like a big party with no consequences or repercussions to the people involved with them. This movie had the opportunity to play it out in that same fashion, but it chose a different direction. It decided to take alcoholism and show it in a more realistic light, maybe even a tragic one. This sequence genuinely touched me, as well as the conversation two characters shared about their life and what exactly they mean to each other. It did more than entertained me: it genuinely surprised me.

As far as comedy and drama goes, I can name a number of films this year that have both made me laugh harder and feel more, among them including the explicit Don Jon, the tamer Monsters University and the other horror-comedy Warm Bodies. Should I take off points, however, if the movie doesn’t match up to the standard of other pictures? The point is that this is a good movie. It had more to offer than just pointless swearing and debauchery: the movie is funny, touching, and original, and there’s a lot of moral truth to it, aside from all of the alien robots mucking everything up.

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