Tag Archives: Ving Rhames

Dawn of the Dead (2004) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror and sex scenes
Cast:
Sarah Polley as Ana Clark
Ving Rhames as Kenneth Hall
Jake Weber as Michael
Mekhi Phifer as Andre
Lindy Booth as Nicole
Kevin Zegers as Terry
Michael Kelly as C.J.
Ty Burrell as Steve Marcus
Director: Zack Snyder

When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire Milwaukee neighborhood has been overrun by the walking dead. After being questioned by cautious policeman Kenneth (Ving Rhames), Ana joins him and a small group that gravitates to the local shopping mall as a bastion of safety. Once they convince suspicious security guards that they are not contaminated, the group bands together to fight the undead hordes.

I had already seen the Dawn of the Dead remake and then the original a while ago, but with the announcement that Zack Snyder’s next movie would be returning to the zombie genre with Army of the Dead, I decided to watch his film again. I’ll admit that while I can appreciate the original film, I don’t exactly love it, it was quite slow and it didn’t leave much of an impact on me. I personally found the remake to be better, it’s fast paced, violent and really entertaining, very effective even in its simplicity.

Remaking one of the most iconic horror movies of all tie was really an ambitious task but screenwriter James Gunn actually did a really good job at updating it over 3 decades later. One of the best parts of the movie is that it keeps the plot moving constantly, never allowing you a chance to be bored, while not feeling overly rushed at any point. Despite being quite short at around an hour and 40 minutes, they managed to add emotion, humour and more in that time. The characters are pretty standard and aren’t special, however they are given some moments to give you an idea of who they are, which is a little better than most zombie movies which have the characters with little to no development or characterisation. The one thing that is missing from the original is the social commentary that George Romero had, the remake is a much more conventional and straightforward zombie movie. As a straight up zombie movie, I liked the remake more. Side note, the real ending of the movie plays during the credits, so be sure to stick around for it before switching it off because I didn’t know about it the first time I watched it.

The characters are written pretty simple but as I previously said, they are given enough moments of development and the cast do a good job in their roles. The stand outs were Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames (unsurprising given that he is always great in everything that he’s in) and Michael Kelly. The rest of the cast featuring the likes of Jake Weber and Mekhi Phifer were also really good for what they were given.

For a directorial debut, Zack Snyder did a really great job with this movie. Snyder’s movies are known for looking stunning and beautiful, from his next film 300 all the way to his latest Batman v Superman (no, I don’t really count Justice League to be one of his movies). Dawn of the Dead on the other hand has a more grimy look to it, fitting in with the tone quite well, and it still is a good looking movie. The action is fast paced and brutal, the zombies in this movie are the running and kill crazy type of zombies and are very nightmarish and dangerous, really feeling like a real threat. The violence and gore are really gruesome and gratifying, there are some very memorable and creative moments and the makeup effects were particularly great.

Dawn of the Dead is one of the few remakes that are better than the original. I guess it depends what you’re looking for, a slower paced zombie movie with social commentary, or a straight forward, albeit very well made and faster paced zombie movie, I happened to like the latter more. This movie is just full of exhilarating energy and is one of the most entertaining zombie movies I’ve seen. I’m very excited to see Zack Snyder make another zombie movie, after directing more movies since Dawn of the Dead, I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with Army of the Dead.

Bringing Out the Dead (1999) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Frank Pierce
Patricia Arquette as Mary Burke
John Goodman as Larry
Ving Rhames as Marcus
Tom Sizemore as Tom Wolls
Marc Anthony as Noel
Cliff Curtis as Cy Coates
Director: Martin Scorsese

Frank (Nicolas Cage), a mentally strained and overworked paramedic from Manhattan, tries to maintain his sanity as he tends to various emergencies and hallucinates about all the people whose lives he could not save.

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I watched Bringing Out the Dead some years ago for the first time. I remembered it involving paramedics, Nicolas Cage and it was directed by Martin Scorsese, and I recall liking it. Of course, with The Irishman coming out, it was only appropriate that I check it out again, I wanted to be sure of what I thought about it. Watching it again, I not only consider this to be one of his most underrated movies, it could be among his best films as well.

Paul Schrader wrote Bringing Out the Dead, with this being the last collaboration between him and Scorsese. With that fact, there are comparisons with this movie to Taxi Driver, and indeed this movie is a bit of a companion piece, following a troubled protagonist who narrates the story. It really conveys the strain that someone has in the line of work as an EMT. It also doesn’t have much of structure and mostly focuses on the main character as a character study, I can get that a bunch of people would find it to stretch on for too long with not much happening. However I was both riveted and entertained throughout. One of the biggest surprises on this repeat viewing was the dark comedy, I don’t remember this movie being as funny as it was, and it’s definitely intentional and works with the very off kilter and strange tone throughout. Nonetheless it is effectively off putting and exhausting at times, just as the main character feels over the course of the plot. Whenever something really horrific and graphic happens, you really feel it. Despite it possibly being one of Scorsese’s darkest movies, it’s also strangely one of his most empathetic.

Nicolas Cage gives one of his best and underrated performances as lead character Frank Pierce. This movie surrounds this character, and he absolutely delivers and convinces in his role. So much of it is in the eyes, every time you look at him, he just looks tired, burnt out and exhausted, on the edge of sanity. Frank is haunted by the people that he’s failed to save, and partway into the movie he realises that his job is less about saving lives, and more about bearing witness to their deaths. He occasionally slips into some crazy moments that Cage is known for, but it actually really worked for the character. Having seen him here, I can’t see anyone else in this role. He’s definitely the star of the show but the supporting performances shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering the number of memorable characters that Pierce encounters. Frank’s partners are played by John Goodman, Ving Rhames and Tom Sizemore, and they share great chemistry with Cage. Rhames is particularly a scene stealer and is hilarious. Other performers like Patricia Arquette and Cliff Curtis also do solid work in their roles. Scorsese himself also provides his voice for the dispatcher and he really fitted the role.

Martin Scorsese directs this and it’s no surprise that he does some great work here. Like with Taxi Driver it’s set in a very dark and grimy city, however here it feels even more unsettling and haunting. He does a good job at getting you in the head of Cage’s character. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is stunning, there’s a desaturated dull look to it that works oddly perfectly for the movie, the use of colour was quite effective. The soundtrack was great, with a solid lineup of songs that accompany the film perfectly.

Bringing Out the Dead is haunting, disturbing, darkly comedic, and all around fantastic, one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated movies. Scorsese directs this with just the right amount of style, the character’s journey was a journey I liked being on, and the acting is great from everyone, especially from Nicolas Cage who does some outstanding work here. Definitely not one to miss.

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 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.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (2015) Review

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Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jeremy Renner as William Brandt
Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn
Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Sean Harris as Solomon Lane
Alec Baldwin as Alan Hunley
Director: Christopher McQuarrie

With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hellbent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

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It would be hard to imagine Mission Impossible Rogue Nation getting anywhere close to Ghost Protocol, the previous entry in the Mission Impossible franchise. While I liked Jack Reacher, director Christopher McQuarrie’s previous film, I wasn’t sure if he was the best choice for directing this film, and Ghost Protocol was so great that it would be a pretty tough job to get anywhere close. After seeing it I can say that Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is actually one of the best Mission Impossible movies. It has all the thrills and entertaining factors that a good summer blockbuster needs. I’m not sure if Rogue Nation is better than Ghost Protocol, but it’s up there.

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One of the only flaws of the previous Mission Impossible film (Ghost Protocol) is that the film really peaked at the tower scene halfway through the movie and the rest of the movie never really got to that level of intensity. Rogue Nation however manages to keep the stakes and tensions high all the way. Something great from the previous film that crossed over was the fact that their gadgets didn’t always work all the time. This made the situations much tenser and much more unpredictable. Even when the action is really the main focus, I was able to follow the plot quite easily, it wasn’t unnecessarily convoluted and it was actually well laid out and planned.

Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Tom Cruise is effortlessly great in this movie and proves once again that he’s great as an action star. Along with doing his own stunts, he really commits to what is going on at the moment. Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames are also great in their roles. I also liked Alec Baldwin’s addition to the cast. A great addition is Rebecca Ferguson, she made the film even better. From what I can tell, she hasn’t done much in her career aside from the Dwayne Johnson Hercules movie but I have a feeling that we are going to see her in many more movies. Mission Impossible doesn’t have a great record of good villains, the best villain we’ve gotten so far was Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the 3rd film. Fortunately the villain here (played by Sean Harris) is one of the better villains of the franchise. His motivations are developed and you understand why he makes the decisions that he makes.

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The action scenes continue to up the ante as the film progresses. The stunts are great as always and makes these action scenes so much better because unlike a lot of action movies today, you can tell that a lot of what you are seeing actually happened, it wasn’t just green screened or used CGI. There are many stand out scenes, there is a motorbike chase scene (which honestly might be my favourite motorbike action scene), an underwater scene, and so much more including a scene where Tom Cruise is on the side of an airbus mid-air (as advertised many times in promotion of the movie).

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Mission Impossible Rogue Nation is a fun ride and one of the best action movies of the year, and given the action films released this year, that says a lot. I’m not sure if this is my favourite Mission Impossible movie, it’s a toss-up between this and Ghost Protocol but even on its own, it is a great movie and I’m looking forward to seeing more films in this franchise.