Mission Highly Improbable

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is currently in theaters

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) – Rated PG-13

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.”

The blessing and curse of any Tom Cruise movie is that it is, first and foremost, a Tom Cruise film. I believe that Hollywood has two types of successful players: actors and stars. While the groups are not mutually exclusive, Cruise does fall firmly in the latter category.

Cruise, the consummate showman, actually hung from a plane as it took off. His willingness, even insistence, on performing this stunt himself garnered a lot of press and the studios milked that for all it was worth. It was showcased in all the trailers and most of the clips and featured in just about every interview. It was a brilliant marketing ploy that paid off handsomely.

The even more brilliant part of this strategem is that this showpiece is the opening scene in the movie (a la some of the fantastic Bond openings). Not only that but, while it is breathtaking, it isn’t even the best action scene in the film. That award belongs to a complex piece set during a performance of Turandot. That scene is worthy of Hitchcock with a dash of DePalma (who directed the first Mission Impossible movie).

Lately, Cruise has had some very strong female leads. Emily Blunt stole Edge of Tomorrow away from Cruise with her performance. Here, Rebecca Ferguson appears as a mysterious femme fatale. Her role is not as good as Blunt’s but she makes a great impression.

The supporting cast does an admirable job but make no mistake: they are there for support. Simon Pegg returns as our comic relief. Alec Baldwin plays a smarmy Alec Baldwin type. Jeremy Renner waits patiently in the wings in the hope that he can one day headline the franchise. Ving Rhames provides some needed color to the otherwise lily-white cast.

Now for the curse part, Cruise works so hard to be on top of the game that some things come off a little strange. We’re treated to the sight of a perfectly-sculpted shirtless 53-year-old Cruise for an extended period during an interrogation sequence. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is an expert marksman, champion swimmer/breath holder, short and long distance runner, demolition driver, motorcyclist, and on and on. The movie seems to function as an ad for Cruise bodybuilding or perhaps Scientology.

Cruise has a knack for picking good directors. The first Mission Impossible was directed by Brian DePalma, the second by John Woo, and the third by J.J. Abrams. Each showcased their directors’ strengths without losing sight of the Cruise factor. Ghost Protocol dropped the numbers and proved Brad Bird could do live action films with incredible stunts. Rogue Nation is made by Cruise’s Jack Reacher director (and Usual Suspects scribe), Christopher McQuarrie.

MI: Rogue Nation is an excellent action movie although my wife thought it went on too long. I will agree that the motorcycle chase right after the car chase was a bit excessive.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything Jailbait

Jailbait and A Fantastic Fear of Everything are currently available on instant Netflix

Jailbait

 

Jailbait (2013) – Not Rated

Relentlessly abused by her stepfather, Anna is ultimately driven to kill him and lands at a dangerously sadistic juvenile detention center.

Okay who can resist the title, “Jailbait”? The Asylum Presents…Quick turn it off, turn it off! Just FYI the “relentlessly abused by her stepfather” portion of the film is over by the second minute of film. This atrocity to celluloid is brought to you by writer/director Jared Cohn.

Hrrrm. Asylum ripping off the major studios I understand but now they are ripping off Netflix itself and then selling the ripoff back to Netflix. They even prominently display “In the vein of Orange is the New Black” on the poster while featuring a young woman in a prison orange jumpsuit labeled both innocent and guilty.

While the lady playing Anna (Sara Malakul Lane) is attractive, she is also a 30-year-old playing a teenager. Erin O’Brien, who plays Kody, another juvenile offender, is 33. Not one of the actresses in the juvenile facility appears to be under twenty. While Jailbait is blessedly free of Asylum’s standard awful CGI, would it have killed them to hire a fight co-ordinator?

For those into that, there are ample displays of nudity and the usual cliched assortment of prison brutalities. Unfortunately, in a complete opposite of Orange is the New Black, the actresses are simply awful. It feels like they were all given drugs before allowing them to read off cue cards.

What’s next Asylum? Domicile of Dominoes? Apprehended Growth?

A Fantastic Fear

A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012) – Rated R

While researching a book on Victorian-era murderers, author Jack Nife comes to fear they’re really stalking him and grows agoraphobic.

There’s a really great movie to be made of this subject matter. Unfortunately this isn’t it. Crispian Mills is writer, director, and producer here. He does make amusing use of some Goreyesque illustrations.

Simon Pegg is perfectly cast as Jack the paranoid author. He helps make the film fun as always but anyone expecting a brilliant satire like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or even Paul, will be disappointed. Part of the miscue is that Jack doesn’t slowly go insane – he starts off nuts.

To handicap the film further, Jack is also intensely stupid. Discovering that his clothing reeks like garbage, he washes it in the sink (reasonable) and then places the clothing in the oven with an open flame, without using a container – something no one would actually do. This type of behavior occurs frequently and is meant to be funny but just pulls the viewer out of the film.

Dreams and flashbacks are occasionally handled well but are just as likely to be bungled. I would love to see the film that A Fantastic Fear of Everything should have been but this is just meh.