Film review: Mission Impossible Fallout

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It’s time to face facts.  Tom Cruise is the greatest actor of our time.  He’s done it all except win multiple Oscars.  And films are the one medium that doesn’t need hardware to measure success.  Tom Cruise bats .800 in my book, he’s almost as successful as Emily Ratajkowski giving me a boner.  Cruise’s filmography is as impressive as the lack of cleanliness in a Taco Bell bathroom: Mission Impossible series, Collateral, Risky Business, Rain Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut (Nicole Kidman is just magical) and American Made to name a few.  Daniel Day Lewis is amazing but he doesn’t have the rewatchability nor financial successes that Cruise has.  Same goes for DiCaprio but I’ll accept Tom Hanks as a viable contestant.  Early critic reviews had described this latest installment of Mission Impossible as the “Skyfall” or “Dark Knight” of the franchise.  Is it?  Let’s find out.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a much more entertaining version of Jason Bourne.  Hunt and his perfect multicultural team of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg drop the ball in the film’s opening sequence by letting plutonium get away from them while the Syndicate (callback from MI: Rogue Nation) is trying to create bombs to nuke the world and start from scratch.  I think we should just start calling this plot line, “The Thanos Snap.”

Hunt runs into Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), MI-6 agent who he battled with in Rogue Nation, as she’s trying to stop Hunt from transferring Lane (also from RN) to the terrorists with the plutonium.  Action ensues, a lot of action.  You know how every MI film has at least one insane action sequence?  The climbing of the hotel in Dubai.  Climbing up an airplane during take off.  This film has at least 5 of those, “get the fuck out of here” moments.  Why does this film work so well?  Those insane aforementioned action sequences as well as a fantastic plot.  Different twists as well as this the first film in the franchise that calls back to previous films.  Hunt’s wife, Michelle Monaghan, from MI-3 returns in a pretty cool story arc.

The ONLY “knock” is this clocks in at 2.5 hours.  Does it drag?  Not one bit.  But some people are sticklers on time.  But the action and plot skyrocket this film as the best of the franchise.  So yes, this is indeed the Dark Knight and Skyfall of this series.  MI: FO is a goddamn tour de force and I shall probably see this again in the theaters.

I give it a 9.5, this film is damn near flawless.

Film Reviews: Baby Driver and The House

Last year was the worst slate of summer films I can ever remember.  How is this summer shaping up?  Not much better.  Transformers 5?  Nope.  Pirates of the Caribbean 5?  No chance.  A rare miss from Tom Cruise with the Mummy.  Baywatch?  No female nudity, no $15 bucks from me.  Alien Covenant?  Netflix.  Wonder Woman?  DC has burned me too many times so Netflix again.  Didn’t bother with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as the I was one of the few in the minority who didn’t like the first.  With the exception of WW, Alien Covenant, and GOTG2; the summer blockbusters have all underperformed.  I haven’t seen anything this FF8 in the theater so a couple of came out this weekend that appealed to me.

the house

I’m a sucker for gambling stories and comedies.  When I saw Jason Mantzoukas was playing his Raffi from, “The League” character, I couldn’t resist.  The idea of 2 parents not having enough money for college to open up a neighborhood casino is the theme of the film.  Mantzoukas plays the friend who’s trying to get his wife back by inviting them to open said casino.  Poehler and Ferrell are both 2 generic, suburban parents who eventually transform into hardened “criminals” as the plot progresses.  The neighbors come by to gamble, participate in boxing matches, and partake into a Vegas style pool scene.  Nick Kroll plays the role of a councilman, hell bent on shutting down this casino while he’s busy, pilfering from the town’s budget.  Loved Kroll in this as well as, “The League.”  Although every time I see him in something, he looks like a praying mantis.  Oh well, he’s making movies and I’m writing reviews so he wins this battle.

The reviews for this have been AWFUL. I don’t get it, this film is funny throughout without having the typical sappy moments that comedies can have.  Plenty of LOL moments without making cookie cutter jokes.  Ferrell moves through this film with ease and Poehler is pretty solid as well; although she does have a couple, “I’m trying too hard moments.”  But Matzoukas is the star of the show and I think this is the vehicle for him to  get to the next level.  He was underutilized in the League and he can easily move ahead of most of the comic actors on the scene now.

Is this film a must see in the theater?  Definitely not but I’m glad I did.

6.5 out of 10

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And now, let’s discuss the film that EVERY critic mentioned in their top films of the summer as well as the year.  Edgar Wright wrote Ant Man and directed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz so his resume may not be as well known the masses but this makes one hell of a entrance theme to the real of public knowledge.  “Baby Driver” is the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort); who is a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey while he pays off his debt to him.  The twist is that Baby who has tinnitus and is constantly listening to music to drown out the ringing in his ears.  His song selection ranges from classic rock, to Jazz, and even to soul.  Interesting choices made by Wright when you would figure that most driving music would be categorized as adrenaline/high energy.  He also has the peculiar habit of recording conversations and mixes them with beats on cassette tapes.  Baby watches over his deaf friend and previous guardian, Joseph, while socking money away to eventually leave.  While eating at a diner, he meets a waitress, Debora, (Lily James) another music enthusiast also looking to get away from everything and everyone.  As previously stated, Baby is a wheelman for local bad guy, Spacey.  Spacey hires Buddy, (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Elza Gonzalez) to rob a bank and Bats (Jamie Foxx) to steal money orders.

The chemistry with all of the actors is fantastic.  Foxx plays a meticulous psychotic quite well.  Hamm and Gonzalez are the modern day Bonnie and Clyde.  Spacey excels as a heinous evil dickhead.  There is a “Heat”-esque element to the film with plenty of nice surprises, twists, and callbacks.  I’d even say it has a nice “Reservoir Dogs” feel but not as dialogue laden as Quentin Tarrantino has been known for.  Of course, things go awry and that’s when this kicks into overdrive.

This film is a great ride and without question, the best so far of the summer.  Then again, that’s not saying much with the crop that’s been released thus far.  I do have higher hopes for the new Spiderman film coming out this week.  And the new Planet of the Apes film also looks promising.  But just like a great meal at an expensive restaurant, the portion sizes are small.

I give it an 8/10

Movie reviews: Jack Reacher: Never Look Back and Don’t Breathe

I know, you haven’t seen a film review from me in MONTHS.  That’s because there’s been mostly JACK SHIT (pun intended for today’s review) leading back to Captain America 3 in May.  I thought about it yesterday; I haven’t seen anything in the theater for 3 months.  That’s an INSANELY long absence for a film buff like me but I’m refusing to pay 15 bucks for mediocrity.   “Jack Reacher: Never Look Back” came out yesterday and I really enjoyed the first one so I said fuck it, let’s do a double dip and also see Sully.  Well, NJ transit reared their ugly head yet again and got me to a voiceover audition 25 minutes late which also fucked up my film schedule.  So I called an audible and also checked out, “Don’t Breathe.”

reacher

JR2 is a follow up to the hugely popular book series, Jack Reacher.  They didn’t start with Reacher’s first book for the first film nor do they for this film.  Don’t worry, if you didn’t see the first film or read the books, you won’t be lost at all.  The biggest discrepancy between the books and films is that in the books, Jack Reacher is 6’4″, blonde hair, blue eyes, and 250 lbs of muscle.  And then playing Reacher in the films is Tom Cruise who is very much the opposite of 6’4.”  I swear at one point in a hotel room scene with Cobie Smulders, I thought he was standing on a platform to be at her eye level.

Cruise plays Reacher, a former MP who pretty much just roams the country where he keeps in touch with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) and when he comes to visit her, find out she’s been locked up for treason.  Reacher believes in his friend so he breaks her out so she can prove her innocence and then gets involved into a web of selling US weaponry mixed in with mercenaries.  Action scenes ensure, Tom Cruise runs like he’s mimicking the T-1000 from Terminator 2, and of course, more than your fair share of cutesy poo action film cliches.

I read the book a few years ago but I don’t recall anything except that in the book, Reacher and Turner have “relations.”  Maybe Cruise wanted to keep this PG-13, maybe he didn’t want to fake his way through heterosexual love scenes, who knows.  Does it affect the plot? Of course not.

I had no desire to see the first film in the theater when I saw the trailers because it looked like every blasé action film.  I was pleasantly surprised when I did catch the first JR.  The second trailer was presented just like the first, nothing to get you excited to drop $15 for.  Was I as pleasantly surprised with this one?  Not really.  This film is fine, Cruise does a solid job in 75% of his films.  There are some good action scenes but nothing you haven’t seen before.  Cruise doesn’t push the envelope like he does with the Mission Impossible films.  Then again, if you read the Reacher books, he’s not a glitzy action hero.  You can totally wait for Netflix for this one but if you’re dying to get out of the house and see something, you can see this without feeling ripped off.  If it’s either this or “Madea blackmails Hollywood into funding another film”, always go with couch jumping Cruise.

I’ll give it a 6.5 out of 10.

dont

Again, NJ transit torpedoed my schedule yet again this week so I didn’t get a chance to see Sully.  Instead, I chose a film that did well at the box office but more importantly, got a lot of solid reviews.  That was the suspense film, “Don’t Breathe.”  A trio of Detroit dirtbags (I know, I’m redundant when I say that) enjoy breaking into people’s homes and pilfering valuables.  Out of the gates, I had a problem with these establishing scenes because they’re the sloppiest criminals.  The lead actress lays in the bed of the house they break into.  Sure, leave a few hair strands as evidence so you can get picked up by the cops in 3 days, that’s logical thinking.  Didn’t any of these kids see “the Town” where they shower and buzz their hair?  Or “The Departed” where Marky Mark shows up to kill Matt Damon in scrubs from head to toe?  It’s obvious no one will ever recruit people from Detroit to be in MENSA.  The guys also walk around with reckless abandon and in reality, this film should’ve been 13 minutes long.

Barring those gaping holes in the believability factor, this film does get better.  The gang gets word that a blind, Gulf War veteran is sitting on 300k in cash he got from a payout when his daughter was accidentally killed.  They break in to rob the place and of course, things don’t go as planned.  I guess the rule of thumb is never underestimate a blind guy who’s been trained by the military…except Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, the story of a blind superhero.  True story, Mike? (Insert Mike and the Mad Dog reference?  Check.)  A few twists and turns, a few buttonhole puckering scenes, and the obligatory smash cuts with loud sound effects to make you jump take place,  and you’re out of the theater in 95 minutes.

This film was fine as well.  Can you watch it on netflix and feel just as satiated, no question.  But it was at least more original than the dogshit reboots we’ve seen.  It’s enjoyable and again, between this or Madea (Or as I call her, Black Tootsie), this is a no brainer.

I give it a 7 out of 10.