Posts Tagged ‘TomCruise’

Mission: Impossible 2

Posted: August 17, 2018 in Movies
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Anticipation was high for Mission: Impossible 2. Back then, in the late 90’s, Cruise was not known for coming back for sequels. For a while we didn’t know if he would be back or if the sequel would have a new team. It turned out a bit of both happened. See when the sequel went ahead the agenda for these films was for each one to be distinct. The only connecting tissue to be Ethan Hunt, Ving Rhames’ Luther Strickell and an impossible mission. It would be the next installment in the franchise, MI3, which would introduce characters and plot points which would continue across further sequels but with this first sequel Cruise & co. were still figuring out what this franchise was. That is why this one comes across as set apart from other entries in the franchise.

John Woo signing up to direct Mission: Impossible 2 was a big deal. Throughout the 80’s and the 90’s Woo had earned a reputation as one of the best action directors working in the industry. His films and his name carried a huge amound of weight and expectation. The mid-90’s saw Woo move into Hollywood and he turned out several hits such as Hard Target, Broken Arrow and Face Off. For a budding action franchise like Mission: Impossible Woo was a sure bet. The first publicity stills for this film showed Cruise’s character scaling a cliff face without a rope. Hardcore. Then the teaser trailers started to arrive, the interviews in Empire and Total Film magazine were gearing up anticipation and the footage in the trailers was impressive. Everyone assumed a home run, a more action focused/heavy film than the first movie and backed up with a solid cast.

The results are a mixed bag. See the finished film is a servicable action movie, a tad on the long side, but it’s mostly well done and entertaining. It’s not a great example of Woo’s amazing talents as a filmmaker nor can it be called one of the better entries in the Mission: Impossible series which, to date, is known for quality sequels. The best way to sum up this experiment is that sometimes what seems great in theory doesn’t always result in the outcome you want. I can’t say what went down during production but I can relate what I felt worked and didn’t for the sequel.

Some of the best parts of the film are the IMF scenes. Prepping for the mission, recruiting agents, infiltration, face masks or engaging with the bad guys is when the film feels like a Mission: Impossible movie. This film’s McGuffin is fine. A deadly virus. It could wipe out millions of innocent people if the wrong people get a hold of it. Okay. We got it. That works. The notion of one of Ethan’s peers going rogue is a good touch too. What brings all of this down a bit is the execution in how the script deals with all of this.

The virus stuff for example. One minute you think it’s a case of the bad guys have it and will unleash it but then it’s like oh no hang on… no one has it, no one is sure who has it and the baddies actually just want to sell it. It just feels a bit too dense for such a simple concept.

Then there’s Thandie Newton’s character Nyah. Talk about wasted oppertunity. First of all I think Newton is awesome and I like her character in this. Yet the film seems intent at keeping her away from all of the action and excitement! Instead she’s there just to take part in this weird over the top romance between herself and Ethan which comes out of nowhere. The worse part is how the script/movie introduces her as this cool Catwoman like master theif who Ethan has to recruit and THEN his boss is like “Actually we don’t need her skills as a theif. We just want her to go back to her ex-boyfriend-“ and be a damsel basically. Why build her up if that’s all you want to do with her? I think she should have been involved in the infiltration stuff, like actively over seeing it and kicking arse.

The action, as you’d expect, is well done but I would not say it’s brilliant. There are some neat Woo staples. A bit more hand to hand combat which is always boss to see and a decent shoot-out or two. The irony creeps in on the action though once it starts being a bit too John Woo in style. It just feels misguided. Ethan Hunt as a John Woo hero, for me, doesn’t work. It comes across as surprising at best and – sorry – corny at worse. All billowing black leather jackets and shades AND doves. That stuff works great in the right movie but this is not the right movie. Even the high speed bike chase doesn’t seem natural to this world. BUT – you gotta always see the positive guys – I do appreciate the care and detail that went into pulling off those stunts and action scenes. Cruise goes all in on all of the hand to hand combat and the results are great.

Mission: Impossible 2 is a decent addition to the series and as an action film it’s good. Sure there’s better out there. I just feel this one has gotten a bit of a reputation over the years as being the lesser entry in this franchise and while I can see it has issues it’s hardly what I would call a bad movie. Don’t forget this was uncharted land for Cruise and his fellow producers. For all we knew the next film would have an even more distinct auteur style because that was the direction Cruise felt the series should go. As we know now it never but as a glimpse of what way this series could have went this is an interesting take.

 

 

 

 

Top Gun

Posted: July 27, 2018 in Movies
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Top Gun. The 80’s movie that is legit everything film fans love about that decade.

Released in 1986 – the same year as a few of my fave films – this Tony Scott dircted picture focuses on THE elite ‘Top Gun’ training programe employed by the U.S. Navy to train and put out the best of the best when it comes to fighter pilots. Tom Crusie stars, in what I’d say was his first big breakout role, as Maverick. This hot shot pilot has somthing to prove. He’s the best there is, so he thinks and he’s making it his mission to come out on top during the programe. To hell with his peers and commanding officers. Maverick has somthing to prove!

Alright. To be fair to Maverick he has his reasons for coming across the way he does. Watching this film as a kid I saw Maverick as the hero but now watching it as an adult this guy comes across as a bit full of himself. It’s funny because Iceman, played by Val Kilmer, is set up as Maverick’s main foe in the film. When you see the film now you realise every bit of shade Iceman tosses Maverick’s way is not only justified it is right on the money. I liked that I saw a different side to the movie revisiting it as an adult. Of course the flip side of that is maybe Maverick was always meant to seem unlikeable and reckless and it’s the emotional arc he goes on through the film that is the point of the film. Yea it’s probably that.

All of the plot stuff aside one of the best reasons to see Top Gun is the outstanding fighter plane action. All shot practically on film, I think, the results are most impressive. As the pilots go through this tough training programe you go along for the ride and feel like you’re right up there with them. The stunt work is brilliant. This ain’t an action film though. Most of the action is based around training stuff but the last act does raise the stakes somewhat in a real test of these pilots skills in a life or death situation. That last act air battle being the pay off for the themes of the film.

Top Gun was a chart hit too with two notable tracks from the soundtrack proving big hits. Take My Breath Away, by Berlin, won an Academy Award! Then you got my fave track from the soundtrack from Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone! Hands down one of the best 80’s tunes ever. The soundtrack was a best seller the year of the films release and is still very popular today.

Tony Scott and his signature style is all over this film. From the jet action down to the character relations and the film’s spot on pace. Top Gun looks and sounds incredible. Tom Cruise is cocky as all hell as Maverick but he nails the emotional beats and you can’t help but like him despite his early flaws. The very talented and stunning Kelly McGillis leaves her mark as Top Gun instructor Charlie. She proves a match for our hero as both a peer and a love interest. We all know the heart of Top Gun is Maverick’s best bud Goose. Anthony Edwards is totally likeable in the role. Goose is a big reason why Top Gun is as good as it is. His friendship with Maverick is legit. I’ll say no more. 80’s stars Michael Ironside and Tom Skerritt provide good support with Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins popping up in small “Wow is that?” before they were stars roles.

Top Gun is, without question, the sort of film you provide to an alien should they enquire as to what sort of movie sums up a decade. This is a great ride and in all seriousness it is a genuinely good character piece with a great arc for its hero. Now is the perfect time to revisit this classic . Tom Cruise, to the delight of many, recently announced his return to this role. Maverick: Top Gun is due out next year and it will have been thirty three years since that character made his unforgettable debut. I can’t wait to see what Cruise and his team have in store cause if there is one thing you can count on with Cruise it is he never phones in anything.