Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The IMF gets shut down, leaving Ethan Hunt on the run from the CIA whilst trying to take down an organized crime group called ‘The Syndicate’. More than in the past few movies this feels like it’s completely merged into the Bourne/Bond universes – it’s particularly Skyfall-y. IMF is outdated and up for debate (like the 00 program), ‘The Syndicate’ are a collective that trigger world events (hello SPECTRE!), and the main villain is pretty much Raoul Silva (Bardem) from Skyfall, but with no development beyond ‘he’s villainously European and wears turtlenecks’. True to the franchise the big action set-pieces are fantastic (Plane opening, Motorbikes, Opera Fight) but it digresses into foot chases and pistol fights, which are ten-a-penny these days. The opening half is everything you’d expect from an M.I. film, but the second part loses momentum with twist after twist after twist, which leaves the story feeling bloated and stretched: it’s 2hrs 10 long! A big problem for this movie is that Ethan “the living manifestation of destiny” Hunt is never on the back foot and has an air of invisibility – worse still Tom Cruise is an action star that can act, but he’s wasted here, coasting as the cocksure and invincible agent. The main female (Ferguson) – an equally kick-ass, deadly, and capable agent in her own right – is presented as a strong heroine, yet made to prance about in leggy frocks, bikinis, and even topless (from the back) for no real reason. When you think of the best scenes in the Mission Impossible franchise and I bet they’re wringing out tension and suspense during the ‘impossible’ missions – hence the name – but Rogue Nation gets tangled up with simple thrills and a flabby, tortuous plot.
Mission: Impossible II
Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission Impossible III (M:i:III, M:I-3): the impossible missions force’s (IMF) best agent, Ethan Hunt, is brought out of retirement when an arms dealer kills his protégé, then kidnaps his fiancé. The action set-pieces are what make this film: there’s a quality raid on Berlin building; impossibly intricate Vatican mission, Shanghai rooftops, and a sustained climactic ending – action fans can’t really ask for more. The only let-down is the lack of an ‘Impossible’ break in attempt, which is the linchpin of – and arguably best things about – the previous two films. It’s far less po faced than other contemporary spies like Bourne and rebooted Bond: moments like Cruise singing “We are family”, and a few tongue-firmly-in-cheek nods to Cocktail and Top Gun are the cherries atop a full-fat everybody-having-fun cake. Even Cruise’s running is funny to watch – perhaps his version of the Arrested Development chicken dance? Although it’s overall funnier, Seymour–Hoffman’s villain is the most callous and dangerous yet, he does well with his screen time. With a decent script, huge cast (Ving Rhames is back!) and another proficient director (JJ Abrams) putting his lens flared stamp all over it, Mission Impossible III is a great popcorn action movie with some gratuitous emotions thrown in; although it’s probably the least memorable or original entry in the franchise so far.
Mission Impossible II
Mission Impossible III
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The World’s End: five middle-aged friends re-unite to tackle the 12-stop pub-crawl that they never finished as teenagers. If you watched the trailer and thought that this looked a bit empty and silly then you’re completely right. No matter how good the director is (which he is), or how on-form the cast are (which they are) this is a great example that if you have a silly idea, you’ll probably end up with a silly film. It also has a few long stretches where there’s not many laughs – namely backstory. The cast are truly the best of contemporary British comedians, and a few bigger players thrown in: Paddy Considine and Pierce Brosnan, to name but a few – a well-picked bunch. The World’s End boils down to being a silly bodysnatchers movie that’s overflowing with 90s nostalgia, whilst pulling from some modern sources like Attack The Block, Hitchhiker’s Guide etc. Given the quality of Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect more from The World’s End, still, it’s a decent Brit-Com, and a good enough way to close out the ‘Cornetto trilogy’.
The World’s End pub crawl route:
- The First Post
- The Old Familiar
- The Famous Cock
- The Cross Hands
- The Good Companions
- The Trusty Servant
- The Two-Headed Dog
- The Mermaid
- The Beehive
- The King’s Head
- The Hole in the Wall
- The World’s End
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: the IMF’s best agent Ethan Hunt is back again; his team go off the grid as they’re blamed for bombing the Kremlin – they must also stop an unfolding global Nuclear War – instigated by a madman! This film sticks to what the franchise does best; action and tension. The tension is wrung out and maximised like a boss; the Kremlin corridor and double-meeting in particular are proper edge-of-your-seat scenes. The action is also well above par, bone-crunching fist-fights and well-handled/edited camera work (other than the sloppy sandstorm chase). This story is typical of the other three films, with more newfangled espionage in various hyper-photogenic locations. Pegg comes out on top of the cast, providing a bit more comic relief than usual, but avoids becoming the clown – everyone else is solid. There’s some awesome gadgets and technical details for your inner-geek, the fastest-booting servers in the world and an onslaught of Apple products. On the downside, it definitely needed more Ving Rhames quips & ass-kicking, and Nyqvist as the ‘main’ bad guy could have done with more screen time and evil development. M:I-4 is another slick instalment of the winning James Bond formula cranked up to 11.
Paul: two ultra nerds go on a US road trip end up assisting an alien fugitive, comical misadventures ensue! Despite a wealth of fantastic SFX and a fairly predictable plot, the overall feel, tone and dialogue remain quite indie. Paul/Rogen is surprisingly human in this, which is a massive relief as he could have easily been another Jar Jar – he also looks amazing, and you believe he’s in the picture for the most part. There’s a total shitload of mainstream and obscure sci–fi references throughout – from dialogue and sound effects to imagery and entire quotes – all lifted from other genre pieces, making this 100% a film by nerds, for nerds. Most surprisingly, Paul is actually really funny, although I’ll admit that most of the appeal for me was the juvenile moments – ridiculously creative swearing, ass jokes, smutty talk etc. Although the trailer makes it look like a low-rent comedy Paul really is easily one of the funniest films that’s been out in a long time, mostly down to the great ensemble cast.
Run Fat Boy Run: the first 20 minutes tee’d the film up nicely but after that it rapidly digressed into an utterly predictable and unfunny folly. Pegg looks out of his depth with drama, and (to be brutal!) doesn’t really have the looks for it. You get the feeling Schwimmer googled ‘Mainstream British Actors’ then ‘Mainstream British Music’ and figured out what he could afford. It’s full of british stereotypes, unoriginal slapstick jokes, and follows an ultra safe, tried-and-tested formula. The film’s easy on the eye because it’s like Hollywood took a trip to London. I just wish I could have ran my marathon with 3 weeks of half-assed training!