Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) Review

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Top Gun Maverick

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Miles Teller as Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw
Jennifer Connelly as Penelope “Penny” Benjamin
Jon Hamm as Vice Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson
Glen Powell as Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin
Lewis Pullman as Lieutenant Robert “Bob” Floyd
Ed Harris as Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain
Val Kilmer as four-star Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Monica Barbaro as Lieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace
Director: Joseph Kosinski

After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it.

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Top Gun: Maverick was a movie I was a little curious about; a sequel to the original over 3 decades in the making. There certainly was a talented crew involved, Tom Cruise of course returns, Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy) is directing, and it has a cast that includes Miles Teller, Jon Hamm and more. However, I wasn’t admittedly super hyped for it. I liked the original Top Gun but to me it was just pretty good, a lot of 80s cheese and some good action sequences, not much beyond that. Yet the new film seemed to be receiving overwhelmingly positive praise, akin to the level of praise that Mission Impossible: Fallout had. So I checked it out, and I can confirm that Maverick is more than deserving of all the acclaim.

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While I expected great things from the cast and the direction, the most surprising aspect is that of the story, which was actually really good. It improves in every single way over the first movie. Even when certain story beats are similar to the first movie, it’s executed much better here. It loses the 80s cheese of the original and instead instils the movie with a real sense of gravitas. It also helps that it actually feels like the story has a structure rather instead of feeling like a compilation of highlight scenes strung together. There are real drama here with a lot more emotion and heart, and the characters are given more depth and are fleshed out. The emotional core of the movie involves Maverick and Rooster (Tom Cruise and Miles Teller), and it pays off wonderfully by the end. It’s also a fun movie to watch, with a lot of entertaining scenes and comedy throughout.  You also feel the stakes a lot more here. In contrast to the first movie where the pilots are just training before suddenly needing to complete a mission in the last act, the training in Maverick is for a near impossible task, giving the aerial training sequences a lot more weight. So, by the time it reaches the third act, we really feel the stakes and tension. Some could say that the movie drags in the second act, and I can see that even though there was never a dull moment for me. However all the build up towards the final act is completely worth it, as it ends with one of the most exciting climaxes in recent memory. As for how it works as a sequel, Maverick does the original justice. It really is a mix of old and new, honouring the original while moving forward to do its own thing. It actually felt like there was a genuine reason for this sequel to be made, especially considering that the first movie was made all the way back in 1986. Most of the fan service moments are handled well and don’t get too distracting, and makes sure it doesn’t spend too much time dwelling on the past. Top Gun: Maverick is very much a legacy sequel, not only by being a sequel to an original classic from decades back, but also being itself an examination of legacy, specifically for Maverick/Tom Cruise. It is a surprisingly introspective movie. As for whether you need to know the original film in order to watch the sequel, it does certainly help know about the characters and story from the first, Even then, Maverick does touch upon the main points well enough that you’ll be able to pick up what happened in the past even if you hadn’t watched the first movie.

Top Gun: Maverick

The cast are all great in their parts. Tom Cruise reprises his role of Maverick. Cruise is really sells his role incredibly well, while he was fun enough in the first movie, here he delivers potentially one of his best performances. He brings such an emotional weight to his scenes. Jennifer Connelly plays Maverick’s love interest in a romantic subplot and while it its perhaps unneeded and shoved not the movie, I thought it was believable and well-handled enough with enough subtlety, especially when compared to the romantic subplot in the original movie. Val Kilmer is the only other returning cast member from the original film aside from Cruise, reprising his role as Iceman. Without giving too much away, his role in this sequel is a small, yet memorable part of the film, and is effectively emotional and hard hitting. The rest of the cast including Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro, Jon Hamm and more all play their parts well. However the standout in the cast aside from Cruise is Miles Teller who plays Rooster, Goose’s son. This is probably Teller’s best performance since Whiplash, he is great here. The relationship between Maverick and Rooster are the emotional centre of this movie and that is handled fantastically, helped by the believable chemistry between the two actors.

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Joseph Kosinski directed this, his work here is phenomenal and probably his best yet. I highly recommend watching it on the big screen, it truly is an experience and it just wouldn’t be the same if you watched it on a smaller screen. Kosinski gives the movie so much energy throughout. The visuals are truly amazing, and the cinematography is stunning, particularly when it comes to the scenes filmed in the air. The movie is worth watching for the intense aerial sequences alone, they’re all fantastic. You actually feel right there with the actors in the air. What makes these scenes work so well is that these flight sequences are all practical, with the actors even having to do actual training to learn how to fly. None of it looks fake at all and the cinematography, editing, sound and everything else all come together to make for scenes that are absolutely exhilarating to watch. The soundtrack is also great, of course the original movie utilised plenty of iconic 80s songs, and some of those songs make appearances here (including Danger Zone). However, it doesn’t overuse or over-rely on them and also allowed for more uses of the composed score from Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, and Hans Zimmer. The score itself was great, taking tunes from the score of the previous movie and revamping it. They particularly complement the action sequences and make them feel even more thrilling.

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Top Gun: Maverick is so many things. It surpasses the first movie in every aspect, its one of the best legacy sequels, and its up there with Mad Max: Fury Road and Mission Impossible: Fallout as some of the best action films of recent years. The story and characters are given enough depth and heart, the cast are great in their parts (especially Cruise and Teller), and the excellent direction and phenomenal action sequences are incredible to watch. Even if you’re not a fan of the original movie or haven’t even watched it, I highly recommend watching it on the big screen, it is truly an exhilarating experience. One of the best films of 2022 thus far.

Top Gun (1986) Review

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Top Gun

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains coarse language
Cast:
Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell
Kelly McGillis as Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood
Val Kilmer as LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky
Anthony Edwards as LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw
Tom Skerritt as CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf
Director: Tony Scott

As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

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Classic 80s movie Top Gun is getting a sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick, released over a few decades after the original’s release. It has been a while since I had watched the first movie, so I was interested in revisiting it before the newest film’s release. I wouldn’t say that it is great but there’s a lot to like about it

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Despite this movie being about dogfighting and fighter pilots, Top Gun is less of an action movie and more of a coming-of-age film. Most of the actual flying is just done in training, real combat only happens in the third act. The writing isn’t anything special, the script is definitely formulaic, and I didn’t find the story to be all that thrilling or compelling. While I wouldn’t say that I was bored watching it, the story is a bit dull. I think the biggest criticism I have for Top Gun is that it feels more like a collection of memorable scenes more than a greatly cohesive movie; the plot didn’t have much direction or drive. The characters didn’t stand out for me but they were likable enough. When the drama appears, it really comes out of nowhere and is melodramatic but it works for the 80s vibe. Speaking of which, the 80s cheese factor helped a lot of the movie, it made some of the weaker and over the top elements work better for me.

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There are some solid performances. Tom Cruise plays the lead character of Maverick in one of his early iconic roles. I wouldn’t say its one of his all-time best performances by any means, but it is definitely one of his most recognisable characters. Cruise is charming and fun to watch, while also giving some depth and development to his character. The chemistry and bromance between Maverick and his friend Goose (Anthony Edwards) was very convincing. That’s more than I can say between the romance between him and Kelly McGillis’s character, which could be more than a little cheesy at times, but again the 80s vibe made it sort of work for me. Generally, the rest of the cast are decent enough.

TOP GUN, Kelly McGillis, Tom Cruise, 1986, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Tony Scott’s stylish direction is one of the best parts of the film, it’s not one of Scott’s best but it is well made. The cinematography is great, and the dogfighting action sequences are beautifully shot. There aren’t as many of these action scenes as you’d initially think, but they are staggered out so they have us wanting more. The soundtrack is pure 80s and wonderfully enjoyable (even if it’s a little repetitive at points).

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If you were to make a list of the top 5 most iconic 80s movies, Top Gun would be right up there. There are definitely some issues with the writing and characters, and I wouldn’t call it great. However, there’s a real charm to it, and I can see why it became something of a cult classic. The cast led by Tom Cruise are solid, it’s well directed by Tony Scott, and the action sequences are entertaining. I do think it is worth checking out at least once.

Minority Report (2002) Review

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Minority Report

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton
Max von Sydow as Director Lamar Burgess
Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer
Samantha Morton as Agatha Lively
Director: Steven Spielberg

It is the near future, a future where murders have become so common, that a system had to be established. This system is called “Precrime”, where 3 physics can predict murders before they happen, allowing police to stop the murders. This system is in production in Washington D.C. where police officer John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has stopped numerous murders in his career. One day, he found out that he is the next person to commit a murder. Now, he is running away from a system he helped become successful, and trying to find out why he was set up to commit murder.

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I watched Minority Report for the first time a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but I only remembered a few things about the plot. So I rewatched it and it’s much better than I remember it being, a very smartly made sci-fi movie that is gripping from beginning to end.

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Minority Report is a unique sci-fi film that’s very complex, creative and thought-provoking. The story is captivating and the characters are well developed and fleshed out, with a smartly written script that’s so well put together. I loved the world-building and the concept of being able to see and prevent crimes before they occur. In fact, the whole futuristic setting I thought was established and set up very well. It was clearly in the future, yet actually felt like a believable setting. At the same time, the film doesn’t wallow in explaining how everything works in the future. Despite the long runtime, it does get onto the main plot reasonably quick. There are plenty of twists throughout and the story is engaging for every minute. It also does have some interesting themes and moral questions, as you would expect from a movie about seeing possible futures and changing the way things play out. Those elevate the movie from just being a pretty thrilling sci-fi movie. It is also pretty fun and has some entertaining moments, even if the story is quite bleak throughout, Spielberg really does balance the tones quite well. The ending does feel a little too neat and optimistic especially considering the rest of the story. Though it does feel like an ending that you could expect from Spielberg at this point, and I thought it was a decent enough conclusion.

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The cast are all great and give everything to their performances. Tom Cruise was great in the lead role of John Anderton, the police officer who goes on the run after finding out that he’s the next person predicted to commit a murder. He does very well with the stunts (yes he runs a lot) but he’s also he’s far more emotional in this role than you would expect. It’s a great performance and possibly one of his best. The supporting cast also do their parts well, including Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare and Max von Sydow.

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Steven Spielberg directed Minority Report and he’s reliable as always. Spielberg is no stranger to the sci-fi genre and uses some of the skills from those past movies to great effect here. I really loved the portrayal of the future. It’s high tech and futuristic as to be expected, yet very grimy and gritty at the same time. The technology was also futuristic yet believable, the portrayal of precrime was also really great and well thought out. Even the personalised advertisements in the background really added a unique aspect to it, yet remaining believable to this world. The cinematography really gives the movie a unique look and neo-norish ambience to it with the use of desaturated colours, high contrasts and lighting, and the production design is great too. The visual effects are generally top notch as to be expected. While there’s a good amount of it here, they’re used to enhance the experience by a great deal while never overshadowing the actual story. The action is great and full of energy, very well choreographed and intense. The editing relentlessly paces the whole narrative and John Williams’ score fits the movie well. In terms of technical flaws, there are some outdated visual effects, though this is the early 2000s so that’s to be expected. Also the glossy cinematography can get a little grating at times, and the movie looks a lot better whenever that look isn’t used.

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Minority Report is a great movie that’s directed excellently, with some commendable performances, and is well written, going way deeper than most sci-fi films at the time. Even looking past its deeper layers, it’s still a gripping, wildly entertaining and thoroughly satisfying experience, and likely one of my favourite films from Steven Spielberg. If you haven’t seen it already, I do think that it is worth watching.

The Color of Money (1986) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson
Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen
Helen Shaver as Janelle
John Turturro as Julian
Bill Cobbs as Orvis
Forest Whitaker as Amos
Director: Martin Scorsese

Pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) finds the young, promising pool player Vincent (Tom Cruise) in a local bar and he sees in him a younger version of himself. To try to make it as in the old days, Eddie offers to teach Vincent how to be a hustler. After some hesitations, Vincent accepts and Eddie takes him and Vincent’s girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) on a your through the country to work the pool halls. However, Vincent’s tendency to show off his talent and by doing so warning off the players and losing money, soon leads to a confrontation with Eddie.

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I knew only a little bit of this movie going into it. Along with it being directed by Martin Scorsese, it involved pool games, starred Tom Cruise in one of his earlier roles, and was a sequel to a Paul Newman movie The Hustler, with him reprising his role as Fast Eddie Felson. Outside of that I didn’t know much of the movie, but because it’s a Scorsese movie I was going to check it out. I actually liked The Color of Money quite a lot, it was fast paced and entertaining, with the performances and especially the direction shining.

Having seen The Hustler the day before I saw this movie I’ll just say that you don’t need to watch that before The Color of Money, despite it being a sequel. As someone who thought The Hustler was just okay, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Even if you have no interest in pool whatsoever, the movie does such a great job in getting you really into what’s going on. It’s paced very well, never allowing for a dull moment, though I thought it really picked up significantly in the second half of the movie.

Paul Newman reprises his role of Eddie Felson from The Hustler, and you see glimpses of his character 25 years later. He gave up his career at the end of that film but 25 years later in this movie when he starts teaching Cruise’s character what he knows, he starts up pool again himself. Newman as usual is great. Tom Cruise plays Vincent, Felson’s protegee who has a real talent for pool. His performance is just full of such energy and he really does hold his own against Newman. Also someone who shouldn’t be overlooked is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Vincent’s girlfriend, she’s also quite important as part of the trio who go on the trip together. Other smaller roles work well, especially an early one scene performance from Forest Whitaker.

A large part of why this movie works so well is Martin Scorsese’s direction, that was the real star of the film for me. The camera movements and the cinematography in general was so great and really stood out. On top of that, Thelma Schoonmaker as usual delivers on an incredibly edited movie, and was a big part of way its so well paced. Both of them really infuse this movie with such an energy that keep you invested in what’s going on. Pool games have never been so tense, engaging and entertaining to watch.

The Color of Money is often placed towards the bottom area of Scorsese’s filmography, but even though I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s one of his best, I do think it’s a little overlooked. It’s performed well by Newman, Cruise and Mastrantonio, and it is sharply written, but the key ingredient is Martin Scorsese’s direction, which makes the whole movie engaging and so entertaining. So I’d say that it’s worth checking out for sure, you don’t need to have seen The Hustler beforehand and can jump right in at any time.

Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018) Review

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Henry Cavill as August Walker
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust
Sean Harris as Solomon Lane
Angela Bassett as Erica Sloane
Alec Baldwin as Alan Hunley
Vanessa Kirby as White Widow
Frederick Schmidt as Zola
Michelle Monaghan as Julia Meade
Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Two years after Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) had successfully captured Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the remnants of the Syndicate have reformed into another organization called the Apostles. Under the leadership of a mysterious fundamentalist known only as John Lark, the organization is planning on acquiring three plutonium cores. Ethan and his team are sent to Berlin to intercept them, but the mission fails when Ethan saves Luther (Ving Rhames) and the Apostles escape with the plutonium. With CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) joining the team, Ethan and his allies must now find the plutonium cores before it’s too late.

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Mission Impossible: Fallout was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. This action franchise has been running for over 2 decades, and since the 3rd instalment, every film was better than the last. Along with Rogue Nation (originally the best film of the series) director Christopher McQuarrie returning, we have the additions of Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett and Vanessa Kirby. At the very least I was expecting a solid action flick with Tom Cruise doing great stunts and some entertaining action. It certainly was that but it was much more than I thought it would be. Greatly directed, acted and executed, Fallout is not only by far the best instalment in the franchise, but also one of the best action movies in recent years.

One criticism that Fallout might get from some people is that it’s not really not the most unpredictable of stories. If you’re familiar with the Mission Impossible movies or any similar movies, you’re very familiar with these kind of spy plots and it doesn’t really do anything vastly different. You’ll be able to pick up most of what’s going on before it happens. There’s particularly one twist that was being built up throughout the story that audiences will be able to figure out within the first 10/20 minutes. With that said, there was a handling of a repetitive Mission Impossible plot point that I’m very happy was subverted here. Outside some of the predictability of the movie, the story really works for the movie. This is the longest Mission Impossible movie yet, at just under 2 hours and 30 minutes and yet from start to finish I was engrossed. This movie is tonally dark and the stakes are really high, both in terms of scale and on an emotional level. I feel like this movie really utilises the characters really well, at least the main team. Something that separates Ethan Hunt and his team from other action movie characters (particularly in Fallout) is that they are only just pulling off what they set out to do, barely scraping by and making it up as they go along. I lost track of the amount of times I heard phrases like “I’ll figure it out”, “I’m working on it”, and “We’ll make it work”. The plot also challenges the characters, not just Hunt, but also Benji, Luther and Ilsa, putting them in seemingly impossible situations. At the same time it does have a lot of well timed and utilised humour. Fallout does tie back to all the previous Mission Impossible movies (except for the second film, unless I missed anything). However, you don’t have to watch all the previous movies to understand Fallout. As it’s a direct sequel to Rogue Nation however, I think it’s a good idea to watch the 5th movie beforehand at the very least. And if you’re a Mission Impossible fan, I think you’ll be very satisfied with some of the things that happens in this movie. As for the way that the movie ends, it doesn’t necessarily end it on a cliffhanger or do any sequel baiting, but there’s room for future movies and some loose ends that have yet to be tied up, and I’m completely on board for more Mission Impossible movies.

The cast all do very well here. Tom Cruise once again plays Ethan Hunt and as usual he’s great. While Hunt doesn’t have the greatest depth in terms of character, he is effective enough in the movies. Also this is the first time since Mission Impossible 3 that there’s been a movie that has personal stakes involving him. This movie allows Hunt to show his age a little, and really acknowledges that he’s been doing this for a long time. It really does give the character much more depth. Cruise’s commitment, charisma and everything is on display. That’s not even mentioning all the stunts that he takes part in, the running, the driving, the fighting, the flying, every time Ethan Hunt is doing something on screen, it really is Tom Cruise doing all of that. Hopefully future MI films will continue to have stories more personal to Hunt because it really makes the movie stand out, and Cruise is great at it. The rest of the returning cast is great as well. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg again are good, with Ving as Luther getting to do the most out of the whole franchise, and Simon as Benji doing more field agent work than before. You do feel the lack of Jeremy Renner here (who’s not here because of Avengers 4 filming) but he’ll not doubt be back for Mission Impossible 7. Rebecca Fergusson like in Rogue Nation, stole the show as Ilsa Faust. She’s great in her action scenes and makes a very strong impression as her character. Alec Baldwin is good in his role as the new IMF director and also returning is Sean Harris as Solomon Lane, who’s now the only Mission Impossible villain to appear in more than one movie. Once again he’s great and truly sinister, one of the best villains in the Mission Impossible series (however that’s not saying a lot). We’ve also got some new additions to the Mission Impossible cast. Angela Bassett gets to have some solid moments (although being rather underutilized), and Vanessa Kirby is fantastic in her role, even though she’s very much a supporting actor in the movie. The stand out new actor however is Henry Cavill, as a CIA agent that Ethan Hunt and the IMF are forced to work with. I do wish that his character had a little more depth than what we got but he was really good. His character of August Walker really stands out as being distinctly different from Ethan Hunt, he’s much more intense and ruthless, and he really was a force of nature. As Angela Bassett puts it, Hunt is a scalpel, whereas Walker is a hammer, with him being younger and physically more imposing and stronger. This role really showed a different side to Cavill as an actor, yes he’s great as Superman and as Napoleon Solo in The Man from UNCLE, but he’s proved here that he’s also solid with darker characters, and I do hope he gets more roles like this as well.

The Mission Impossible series usually have the tradition of having different directors for every film to feel distinctly different, Fallout breaks this tradition with Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie returning for the sixth instalment. Despite him directing the previous film, Fallout feels like it was done by a completely different director, McQuarrie really upped his game here. In a lot of good action movies, there are usually a few great action scenes and the rest of the action scenes are decent enough. Here though, pretty much all the action sequences are absolutely fantastic, and had any of them been placed in most other action movies, it would be the best action scene of that film. Whether it involve motorcycles, running, helicopters, cars, you name it, McQuarrie, Cruise and co. perform them wonderfully well. A big part of why they work so well is the cinematography. Along with the movie just generally looking great, during the action sequences there are no unnecessary close ups and no jarring cuts during fight scenes, instead we have wide shots, tracking shots, the cinematography really helped showcase the action and we can see all of it unfold. All the Mad Max Fury Road comparisons that Fallout has been receiving make sense when you watch the movie. I’d say that 90-95% of the movie is practical, and as we know, 100% of Tom Cruise’s stunts was done by Tom Cruise. I wouldn’t know how to really talk about the stand outs action sequences because I’d just end up listing all of them, but some highlights include a brutal and excellently well done fight which takes place in a bathroom, a HALO jump performed by Tom Cruise and a helicopter flying scene. Lorne Balfe does the score and it really adds something to the movie. The constant feeling of uneasiness in the movie comes mostly from the score, giving the film a heightened sense of tension. It does feel like a Hans Zimmer score but that really worked for the movie.

Mission Impossible Fallout takes all the great elements from the previous movies in the series to create a fantastic, thrilling and intense movie, that had me gripped from start to finish. This is definitely the best film in the series and one of the best action movies of recent years. Although I’m not even sure how they would top Fallout, I’m completely on board for future Mission Impossible films. Even if you’re not a big fan of the series, I strongly recommend checking Fallout out, you won’t regret it.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jeremy Renner as William Brandt
Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Paula Patton as Jane Carter
Michael Nyqvist as Kurt Hendricks
Anil Kapoor as Brij Nath
Léa Seydoux as Sabine Moreau
Director: Brad Bird

Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by the U.S. government, while the president initiates the Ghost Protocol. Forced to go “off the grid” — left without resources or backup — Hunt must somehow clear the agency’s name and prevent another attack. Complicating matters even more, Ethan must undertake the impossible mission with a group of fellow IMF fugitives whose actual motives are suspect.

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Recently I’ve been watching the Mission Impossible movies (in reverse order) in preparation for the latest instalment (Fallout) to be released. From what I can tell, before 2011, Mission Impossible wasn’t doing so great as a series. JJ Abrams salvaged the series from extinction with 3 but it wasn’t a huge success. Despite that, Paramount Pictures were keen on developing a fourth film. It’s in 2011 when the next instalment would be created by director Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame. Ghost Protocol was a huge success when it came out and for good reason, it’s a fresh spy movie with Brad Bird’s direction playing a large part in its success. While I don’t consider it to be the best movie in the series, it’s still rather solid and memorable as both an action movie and as a Mission Impossible.

On top of being thrilling, Ghost Protocol is also really funny, you really feel the tonal difference from the other Mission Impossible movies and it really works here. The previous movies in the Mission Impossible series seemed to be mostly the Tom Cruise show, 1 and 3 had some of that but here they really work as a team throughout the entire movie. Outside of the first 30 or so minutes, the film is split in two parts, one is the Dubai segment, and the other is the climax in India. The Dubai segment is great, filled with great tension, action and suspense. What works so well is that you really feel like these characters are on their own and vulnerable. It seems that pretty much every Mission Impossible movie consists of the main characters (or Ethan Hunt at least) being hunted down, on the run and vulnerable. However Ghost Protocol really shows them as being a little vulnerable and in difficult situations. This movie goes all out with some of the gadgets, but despite how impressive some of the gadgets are, many of them don’t work perfectly, some of them don’t work at all. Even the mission reader that Ethan Hunt gets with the message starting with “Your message, should you choose to accept it” and ends with “This message will self destruct in 5 seconds” fails to successfully self destruct. Even though you know that by the end of the movie everything will be alright, Ghost Protocol is very effective with its tension. Ghost Protocol does have a slight issue, the movie really peaks at the Dubai segment. While the rest of the movie is still pretty good, it doesn’t live up to the previous act and is relatively decent but lesser in comparison. The plot can be a little convoluted at times but not enough to bring down the movie. I’m not really sure that it’s a problem but despite the movie being over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, it feels much shorter. However I feel a large part of that is due to the structure. There seems to be a location each for the last two acts, which feels very jarring compared to other movies where it takes place in multiple places.

The cast are all good, as I previously said, there wasn’t as much emphasise focussing on a team in previous movies. Now however they are developed adequately enough and get a lot to do. Tom Cruise as usual is effortlessly good as Ethan Hunt, delivering on playing the character as well as the physical stunts, absolutely fearless in the things that he does such as the Burj Khalifa tower climbing scene. Simon Pegg was introduced in Mission Impossible 3 in a smaller role, here he gets to do quite a lot more. Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner also do their parts rather well. The team all worked together very well. The villain is played by the late Michael Nyqvist, who is a really good actor. However his character wasn’t that great. His performance is good and the character does have a good setup but the problem is that aside from two scenes in the first act, he’s really just in the climax, and we aren’t given enough time with him. So by the end he ends up feeling rather flat. A supporting villain played by Lea Seydoux does much better in her role.

Until Mission Impossible: Fallout, the tradition was for each film in the series to be directed by a different person. With each Mission Impossible film you can really see each director lend their style to the film, Bird is no exception, who made his live action film debut here. His direction is a big reason why you are constantly interested and entertained throughout. The famous Burj Khalifa climbing sequence still holds up very well today, absolutely tense throughout. However Bird is also good at creating tension during the non action scenes as well. The action scenes themselves are pretty good themselves, from the fight scenes to the chase scenes. The movie does have a really good look to it. There was some explosions in the first act of the movie that looked a little fake but outside of that there wasn’t anything really distracting about the effects.

Mission impossible Ghost Protocol 7 years later is still a really good movie. Brad Bird has made a very entertaining and thrilling movie which still holds up very well. There maybe some minor issues but its not enough to really take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie. I still think that Rogue Nation is the best movie to date (Fallout could change that), but Ghost Protocol still holds up as being one of the highlights of the series.

Mission Impossible 3 (2006) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Billy Crudup as John Musgrave
Michelle Monaghan as Julia Meade
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Declan Gormley
Keri Russell as Lindsey Farris
Maggie Q as Zhen Lei
Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Eddie Marsan as Brownway
Laurence Fishburne as Theodore Brassel
Director: J.J. Abrams

Retired from active duty, and training recruits for the Impossible Mission Force, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces the toughest foe of his career: Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international broker of arms and information, who is as cunning as he is ruthless. Davian emerges to threaten Hunt and all that he holds dear — including the woman Hunt loves.

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JJ Abrams brought back the Mission Impossible series after the… rather questionable Mission Impossible 2. Mission Impossible 3 is a really good movie, and benefits from the direction by JJ Abrams. It’s a stand out in the Mission Impossible series. There are parts that don’t work as well but none of it is enough to significantly bring down the quality or enjoyment over the movie.

This movie never lets up, its like a never ending chase. It’s very difficult to be bored as the movie barely gives you a moment to breathe, and the moments that serve as breaks are the right length and don’t take away from the tension and thrills. It is apparent pretty early on that Mission Impossible 3 has an emphasis on action over espionage, but unlike Mission Impossible 2 it is actually executed well. One thing that stands out about this movie is that there are some personal stakes, which is mostly due to Ethan Hunt’s connection to his wife and how she becomes involved with the plot. That is immediately established by a very tense and effective opening scene. It also feels a lot darker compared to all the other Mission Impossible movies. The movie is about 2 hours long and it feels like the right length, the pacing is solid and allows you to stay engaged throughout the entire runtime.

Tom Cruise is as usual good in his role here. This is his best performance as Ethan Hunt to date, along with performing the action scenes and stunts excellently, he gets to show an emotional range and gets a lot of moments to shine. From this point, Ethan Hunt improved dramatically as a character in the series. Michelle Monaghan plays Ethan’s wife, and the two share some solid enough chemistry. We have Ving Rhames returning from the prior films as Luther Stickell, and is one of the stand out characters. We also get Simon Pegg’s introduction into the series as Benji, who would go on to feature more prominently in the next Mission Impossible movies. Other additions like Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q and Laurence Fishburne were also good, they played their parts well. Phillip Seymour Hoffman here plays one of the stand out villains in the Mission Impossible series. He is truly menacing and threatening in his scenes, making himself one of the highlights of the film. If there’s an issue with him, it’s that his character Owen Davian doesn’t really have any backstory, he really is just an evil arms dealer. The simplicity of his character and how matter of fact he is was part of why he’s so effective but it would’ve been nice to have learned some of the character. Also we really don’t get enough screentime with him, they way they conclude his character was also underwhelming. It’s Hoffman’s performance that makes this character really work.

This is the first live action film that JJ Abrams has directed, and it’s very solid for a film debut. There is a more of a handheld direction apparent here which works most of the time in MI3. Dan Mindel’s cinematography is actually rather beautiful here, the colour tones are quite different for a Mission Impossible movie and somehow something about it works. If there’s an issue with the direction, is that there are too many close ups used. Part of the reason why it’s so prominent in this movie is because Abrams likely used a lot of them in tv shows like Lost, which would typically use a lot of close ups. As seen in the Star Trek movies and The Force Awakens, he’s sort of moved away from that and improved his style so now everything is more balanced. The movie is heavily focussed on action and the action scenes themselves are really good and entertaining. A stand out is a bridge sequence about halfway into the movie.

Mission Impossible 3 is a very solid dark, gritty and intensely personal action thriller. The highlights were the personal stakes, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the darker story and JJ Abrams’s direction. From start to finish you are on board with what’s going on and it never lets up, it’s one thrilling ride. There aren’t really a huge amount of flaws to bring the movie down, and is actually rather underrated as a movie.

Mission Impossible 2 (2000) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Thandie Newton as Nyah Nordoff-Hall
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Dougray Scott as Sean Ambrose
Brendan Gleeson as John C. McCloy
Richard Roxburgh as Hugh Stamp
John Polson as Billy Baird
Radé Sherbedgia as Dr. Nekhorvich
Director: John Woo

Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt in the second installment of “Mission: Impossible.” This time Ethan Hunt leads his IMF team on a mission to capture a deadly German virus before it is released by terrorists. His mission is made impossible due to the fact that he is not the only person after samples of the disease. He must also contest with a gang of international terrorists headed by a turned bad former IMF agent who has already managed to steal the cure.

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The original Mission Impossible directed by Brian De Palma was a huge success, and would naturally get a sequel. Instead of the original director being in charge of it, it’s John Woo who directs this movie. Woo known for his over the top action movies like Broken Arrow and Face/Off, so you can expect the kind of movie that we got with Mission Impossible 2. It’s known by pretty much everyone as being by far the worst in the series and for very good reason. However, the biggest problem with the movie isn’t necessarily that it’s cheesy and stupid, its that it tries to do that while still having a rather dull plot, it’s a rather mixed bag.

From the very beginning you can tell that something is off. By the time we cut to Tom Cruise rock climbing, you begin to notice that this movie seems like it’s very much an 80s movie, whether it be the music, the slow motion, the cheesy dialogue, Tom Cruise wearing sunglasses (it’s not surprise that The Matrix game out the previous year) or Tom Cruise’s hair. In order to enjoy it, you have to know that it’s not really a Mission Impossible movie. Even the ridiculous aspects of the other films are amplified, for example there are at least 4 face mask reveals over the course of the movie with no explanation or showing of characters even creating them. This is very much a standard Tom Cruise action movie, not a Mission Impossible movie. At first one would think “okay, it’s not a Mission Impossible movie or a good movie, but at least it could be an entertaining movie”. However this movie is really dull and has such a mediocre story. On top of that, this movie has so much exposition dumps and ironically it tries way too hard to be serious. While this movie is very over the top with its action scenes, we don’t get many of them until over an hour into the movie, and no that first hour isn’t entertaining or intriguing in the slightest. If this movie was consistently cheesy and over the top at least this movie would work on some way. But here we have a really by the numbers and average action movie that just has some moments of enjoyable ridiculousness.

None of the cast do that great here. Tom Cruise is not Ethan Hunt here. He is trying to play an American James Bond (Brosnan era), it’s actually rather jarring how goofy he is here. He has a lot of charm, says one liners and acts like a playboy. Even the villain notes that he “grins like an idiot every 15 minutes”. While Ethan Hunt in the first Mission Impossible wasn’t particularly deep and had some moments where he was just invincible (the character improved in MI3), he still had some vulnerable moments and wasn’t a James Bond sort of character. For whatever reason that wasn’t present in the second film. Tom Cruise tries his best here though, to his credit he does go all in with whatever he was told to do, he does have genuine charisma and is very dedicated. Also all his stunts are great and he is worth all the praise for it, from rock climbing in Utah to having a knife nearly touch his eye halfway through a very intense fight scene near the end. Thandie Newton is a great actress but here she’s got really nothing to work with and doesn’t leave any kind of impression. The ‘relationship’ between her character and Cruise is so unbelievable and hilarious. Ethan Hunt has the smallest team here out of all the movies, with only 2 people. The first is Ving Rhames who returns as Luther Stickell, having appeared in every Mission Impossible movie, he’s one of the best characters of the series. Unfortunately it seems that all the personality and humour was sucked from him and I have no idea why. Despite this he still fared better than the second team member Bill Baird played by John Polson who was completely forgettable. The villain played by Dougray Scott is really silly, cliché and over the top, and not in an enjoyable way. He’s also really boring and dull, and he gets quite a bit of screentime so when he was on screen he was just kind of annoying. He’s really hard to take seriously and is by far the worst villain in the series. Richard Roxburgh plays another villain but he is a little better than Scott. Brendan Gleeson is in this movie for some reason, he plays such a small role it makes you wonder why he was in there to begin with. Anthony Hopkins is also in this movie in one scene for some reason, he just comes and he goes quickly.

John Woo is the most prominent person in the entire movie, his style is everywhere. There is an awful lots of slow-mo, even in non action scenes, there are people flipping and flying everywhere, and there are doves flying in front of the camera. To Woo’s credit, the action scenes, for as over the top as they are, are pretty good and entertaining for what they are. In the third act, John Woo dials up the craziness to 11 and is filled with explosions, motorcycles, slow-motion, people jousting with motorcycles and jumping in mid air to collide with each other, it’s absolutely wild. The third act is so ridiculously stupid and filled with so many action clichés that it’s actually entertaining, and you stop caring about the dull plot. Also the end fight features some pretty good stunts, in fact the fight scenes are all done pretty well, even if it does feel out of place from other Mission Impossible movies. The CGI is quite bad, and doesn’t really hold up today but its far from being the main problem with the movie. Hans Zimmer’s score is pretty good.

If you plan on watching the Mission Impossible movies, you don’t need to watch this one. There’s not really anything you’re missing. It really has a dull plot with not much of substance, and despite all the entertainment factors, it’s still not enough to make this a completely entertaining movie. With that said, there is some fun to be had with Mission Impossible 2. Tom Cruise despite not being Ethan Hunt here is very dedicated, some of the action is entertaining (especially in the third act) and it features so many silly moments that end up being hilarious. Just don’t treat it as a Mission Impossible movie, be aware that it’s not like the other Mission Impossible movies (and I mean that in a bad way).

Mission Impossible (1996) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jon Voight as Jim Phelps
Emmanuelle Béart as Claire Phelps
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Vanessa Redgrave as Max
Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge
Jean Reno as Franz Krieger
Kristin Scott Thomas as Sarah Davies
Director: Brian de Palma

When U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his mentor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), go on a covert assignment that takes a disastrous turn, Jim is killed, and Ethan becomes the prime murder suspect. Now a fugitive, Hunt recruits brilliant hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and maverick pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) to help him sneak into a heavily guarded CIA building to retrieve a confidential computer file that will prove his innocence.

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Mission Impossible was originally a tv series that started in the 80s, about a team of secret agents pulling off jobs. TV to movie adaptations could so easily turn out badly but director Brian de Palma and co. managed to pull it off. It’s not one of my favourites from the Mission Impossible series but it is still quite solid, and I do appreciate it, especially how it would lead onto some even better movies (for the most part).

Generally the Mission Impossible movies does have some plots where you kind of need to pay attention to what is going on, but with this first film in particular it is essential. All the later movies would have more of an emphasise on action, but here it’s the opposite, there aren’t many action scenes, in fact there’s just one. It’s more of an espionage focussed movie. The team dynamic, which would play a part in the other Mission Impossible movies (with the exception of Mission Impossible 2) are present in 2 prominent sequences in this first movie, but outside of that, doesn’t play a huge part in the overall part. The movie is an hour and 50 minutes long, its much slower paced and I’d be lying if I said that I was completely invested from start to finish. It goes in and out of being interesting to me. Honestly I don’t have much to say about the plot, it’s fine enough.

This is the movie that launched Tom Cruise into becoming an action star. Ethan Hunt would grow to have a bigger range as a character in later movies (after 3) and here he’s not really a deep character but Cruise does add a lot here. Along with his impressive stunts (showing how committed he is and would be in the years to come), Cruise is good when portraying Hunt in scenes when he’s at the top of his game and also when he’s vulnerable in certain situations. We spend more time with Ethan Hunt’s newer team members, which are played by Ving Rhames and Jean Reno, both are good. Rhames as Luther Stickell in particular is great, he’s likable, he’s funny, he’s so good in fact that he would then star in every Mission Impossible movie following the first film, and that can’t be said about any other character in the series aside from Ethan Hunt. Other actors like John Voight, Emmanuelle Beart and Vanessa Redgrave are also good.

For a while, the tradition for the Mission Impossible movies was that each film in the series would be directed by a different person, and with each Mission Impossible film you can really see each director lend their style to the film. Brian de Palma directed the first film and his work is very effective here. It surprised me how well some of this movie holds up, not all of it does (like some of the technology) but for what de Palma was going for with this movie, he really pulled it off. The film really showcases the team and the planning of the jobs really well. A highlight was the sequence where Cruise is hanging from the ceiling and is trying to steal something, it’s a very tense scene that is really effective to this day. There’s like maybe one action scene in the movie (the train scene at the end) and it’s really great, it feels like you’re right there as everything is going on. Some of the special effects don’t hold up but that can be overlooked. The score by Danny Elfman was pretty good, but the main theme which is based off the theme from the original series is very memorable, and would continue to return in later Mission Impossible movies and go through some evolution.

Despite what the series is like now, the original Mission Impossible is actually rather different. If you haven’t watched this movie before and only watched the later movies, it can be quite jarring. It can be slower paced, it’s not consistently interesting and entertaining but it’s got a lot of good to it at the same time, and it is still worth watching. I think there are better Mission Impossible movies but the original is still rather solid.

American Made (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast
Tom Cruise as Barry Seal
Sarah Wright as Lucy Seal
Domhnall Gleeson as Monty Schafer
Jayma Mays as Dana Sibota
Jesse Plemons as Sheriff Downing
Director: Doug Liman

Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. The operation spawns the birth of the Medellin cartel and almost brings down the Reagan White House.

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American Made had me immediately interested with Tom Cruise and Doug Liman involved. Cruise brings his A game to whatever movie he’s involved in (even if the movie isn’t always great) and Doug Liman have directed a lot of great movies with The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow. Ultimately the movie is quite good, with solid performances, stylistic storytelling and was quite fun overall. I wouldn’t call it a great film and its not one of Doug Liman’s all time best, but it is very entertaining.

The film is very fast paced and kept my interest throughout. There is a lot of unbelievable things that happen in American Made, to the point where they all had to be real (granted I don’t know how accurate the movie is to real life). American Made is quite entertaining, though I think Liman’s direction had a big part of that, and the way he decided to tell the story. Despite it being quite a fun movie, the film doesn’t glorify Barry’s actions, you do get the feeling throughout that what he’s doing a lot of the time is unethical. The film is 1 hour 55 minutes long, which was a good runningtime for this movie overall, it was long enough but it also didn’t overstay its welcome. Honestly I don’t have a whole lot to say about the story, what you see from the trailer of American Made is what you’ll get from the movie, except its more insane and it does handle the dramatic aspects quite well.

Tom Cruise is so great in this movie, I don’t know what the real life Barry Seal was like but for whatever Doug Liman was going for, Cruise seemed to have been perfectly cast. He is so effortlessly likable, despite all the questionable things he does. Cruise was also great at the dramatic aspects of Barry, he wasn’t just Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise again. The supporting cast was also good, such as Domhnall Gleeson who plays a CIA agent who gets Barry Seal to work with him.

Overall I liked Doug Liman’s style, it played a huge part in this movie being entertaining and fun to watch. There are so many insane things that happens in this story, and so this style really was appropriate to show it. At times it did however feel that it was almost trying to have a style similar to Wolf of Wall Street, not that it was necessarily a bad thing, it was just a little distracting at points. One problem I do have with this direction is that this movie is shot handheld, and I never felt like it needed to be. I know Doug Liman often uses handheld/shaky cam quite often but it felt like there was no real purpose to make it that way, it wasn’t an action movie, nor was it a mockumentary style movie, it was very unnecessary.

American Made is fast paced and entertaining, and definitely keeps your interest from beginning to end. With Tom Cruise, the supporting cast, and Liman’s direction, it really works. It’s not going for any awards, and the camerawork is rather questionable and annoying, but it’s a solid movie overall. It’s not necessarily a movie you need to rush out and see in cinemas, but whenever you get a chance, it’s definitely worth checking out.