2018 Summer Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hangs on the edge in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

The popular Mission: Impossible series, based on the television show that aired from 1968 to 1973, has come a long way since the 1996 original. Audiences weren’t expecting a spy thriller that required them to pay close attention. Tom Cruise makes a perfect protagonist in Ethan Hunt, who would eventually go to new heights. Due to the film’s success, five sequels were made; using a different director in each of them to generate a different style.

Mission: Impossible II is a typical popcorn flick from director John Woo. It is ridiculously stupid, but it still kicks ass. To be fair, Cruise’s hair is easily the best character in the entire movie. Mission: Impossible III goes back to serious mode. And it marks J.J. Abrams first feature-length film. The handheld camerawork and the constant close-ups definitely show it’s an Abrams feat. However, the series has improved with both Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, with clever writing, brilliant sets (Hunt scaling the Burj Khalifa probably being the most memorable in the series), and awesome characters. Not to mention the technology evolving and becoming more advanced. Christopher McQuarrie has taken over for Brad Bird as the director of the most recent two entries. With Fallout, he returns to bring another terrific thrill-ride (with a brain) to the silver screen.

After a failed mission, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) race against the clock to disengage three nuclear bombs containing plutonium, used by a terrorist group known as The Apostles–the predecessor to The Syndicate, led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Along with CIA agent August Walker (a mustachioed Henry Cavill), the IMF must prevent mass destruction, or else they will be disavowed.

The cast brings great work into their performances. From the comic relief of Pegg’s Benji to the suave nature of Rhames’ Luther to the fierce energy of Ferguson’s Ilsa and Cavill’s Walker to the slyness of Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley, Tom Cruise’s Hunt will always be the heart and soul of the franchise.

Cruise never ceases to amaze me; not only with his acting abilities (particularly Hunt’s spy knowledge), but he risks his entire life to perform his own death-defying stunts. On the verge of 60, he’s still in incredible shape. Whether it would be running and jumping off rooftops, doing a HALO jump–in one long take!–during a lightning storm (rendered through CGI, of course), riding a motorcycle through the streets of Paris, or chasing the villain through the mountains of Kashmir in a helicopter, he can do it all!

Speaking of action sequences, the helicopter chase is the best you will see all summer. With McQuarrie’s clever use of camera angles, fast-paced editing, gorgeous setting (kudos to Rob Hardy’s cinematography), and Lorne Balfe’s thrilling score, it makes for one white-knuckling moment that I will never forget. This movie also contains the most brutal bathroom fight, some of the most intense chases, and so much twists and turns.

Fallout is everything a Mission: Impossible movie should be: edge-of-your-seat suspense, a sense of humor, and thoughtful storytelling. Not only is it the best in the series since Ghost Protocol, it’s easily the best blockbuster of the summer. Fingers crossed for more M:I films.

4/4

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Movie Review: The Snowman

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Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is trapped in a series of unfortunate events in The Snowman. (Source: IMDb)

The Snowman, based on Jo Nesbø’s best-selling novel of the same name, has the ingredients of a great thriller. They are: A talented cast, a talented filmmaker (Tomas Alfredson, of Let the Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), edited by a legendary editor (Thelma Schoonmaker, who collaborated with Martin Scorsese for years), and it has an interesting mystery at its core. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is simple: EVERYTHING!

Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole (I later found out it was pronounced “hol-eh”, not the correct English way), a police inspector of the Oslo Crime Squad. He is assigned to investigate a series of murders of women on the first winter’s snow Along with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), Harry uses his police skills to take down the killer, who keeps threatening him with letters.

Believe it or not, legendary director Martin Scorsese was attached to direct the film at one point until Alfredson took the director’s chair. I love a good mystery, and there is so much potential to be had with The Snowman. But–it doesn’t deny it from being an incoherent mess. One of the main reasons why the movie sucks is that Alfredson stated that a part of the screenplay didn’t make it into the film, causing him to rush production. According to The Playlist, he said, “It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture.”

I did read the book prior to the movie’s release, and I enjoyed it. Comparing the movie to a good book, the film’s mystery hardly makes any lick of sense. None of the characters are interesting and the plot holes are massive.

Fassbender has been in a lot of great movies. Known for playing young Magneto in the X-Men films, a nasty slave owner in 12 Years a Slave (in which he received an Oscar nomination for), and the founder of Apple in Steve Jobs, I have never seen him play a character so dull and cliched. It’s clear from the beginning that he has a drinking problem and is a heavy smoker. The audience barely sees him do any police work that is considered great. With a supporting cast featuring Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, this is a such a wasted opportunity. Val Kilmer earns the strangest-performance-of-the-year award as a police officer whose involvement in the investigation is connected somehow. How can you not crack up at his overdubbed voice?

There is a possibility we will get another adaptation of The Snowman in the future that is worth watching. But–if you want to see a good Scandinavian thriller with a mystery that feels complete, watch either the original Swedish version or David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They are both brutal yet keep you on the edge of your seat. The Snowman is just as entertaining as getting your wisdom teeth removed.

0/4

2015 Summer Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides a motorcycle again in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation"

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides a motorcycle again in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

In 1996, an action hero has been introduced. His name is Ethan Hunt. An agent working for the IMF (Impossible Mission Force); going on one impossible mission after the next. Each mission has been fun despite hitting a few bumps in the road. In Mission: Impossible, he’s a slick, sophisticated agent. Hunt gives a different side in Mission: Impossible II as more of a James Bond playboy. Then he goes back to being the cool agent as he ever was. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he takes part of the most impossible mission of his career.

There is an international threat called the Syndicate. A network of highly skilled operatives setting terrorist attacks who intend to take down the IMF. Meanwhile, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) stands in front of the judge to disband the IMF. Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team – old pal Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – join forces with agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who may or may not be on Syndicate’s side. Their mission – which they accept – is to take down the Syndicate.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, writer of Edge of Tomorrow) provides enough laughs, action, thrills, and exposition into this incredibly ambitious flick. Like before, the movie shows how hard the mission is with things going wrong in the process.

Cruise embraces the action movie role. If you thought Tom Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was insane, he does plenty more death-defying stunts in Rogue Nation. At one point, Hunt is hanging on the side of cargo plane (which took eight takes). The next point he is swimming underwater – in a quiet and terrifying sequence – without an oxygen tank. He and Dunn drive through Casablanca from motorcyclists. With surprises along the way, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation puts you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Pitch-perfect summer movie entertainment!

4/4