Rating: The Good – 72.1 Genre: Action Duration: 126 mins Director: J.J. Abrams Stars: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Easily the better of the first two sequels, Mission Impossible III isn’t as much defined by its traditional set pieces as it is by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s über-villain. After retiring from the field to get married, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is drawn back into the fold when his protege is killed by the aforementioned nasty arms dealer who among other things is attempting to secure some kind of doomsday device. Picking up the ball after John Woo had somewhat fumbled it in MI:II, J.J. Abrams, fresh from his television successes with Alias and Lost, shows an intuitive touch in his handling of some modestly conceived but impressively staged set pieces. And though opening in perhaps too high a gear, the movie does eventually settle to the extent that a decent story plays out.
After a six year hiatus from the role, Cruise gives us the same enjoyable but watered down version of Ethan Hunt as he did in the first sequel. No doubt the movie could’ve used the cheeky verve of his cracking original turn but what he fails to provide, Seymour-Hoffman makes up for in spades. Not known for his roles in action thrillers, Seymour-Hoffman spits his wonderfully acidic dialogue at everyone and anyone who gets in his way right before he tortures them in some novel but psychologically cruel manner. He’s as thrilling a bad guy as you’ll find and a scene in which he wakes up in chains yet immediately turns the tables on his captors through sheer force of will is chilling to behold. The majority of the characters excluding Hunt’s new bride (Michelle Monaghan) and his sarcastic tech-specialist (Simon Pegg) are merely vessels through which the extended action sequences play out but so brisk is the pace Abrams sets, it won’t really be noticed.
Rating: The Good – 76.4 Genre: Action Duration: 110 mins Director: Brian De Palma Stars: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart
IMF secret agent Ethan Hunt, is forced to turn rogue when his operation is blown from the inside and his team is killed. Hunting for the mole who set him up, he recruits a new team of equally disavowed spies and begins to put a complicated plan into action. This original movie adaptation of the popular television show has all the hallmarks of the source material but with the added style of Brian De Palma who demonstrated yet again that his genius for set-pieces applied just as much to the action genre as it did to thrillers and horror. Mission Impossible is an accomplished action movie in nearly other every respect too from the charismatic acting to the hip script underlying it. Tom Cruise is in top form as Hunt, Jon Voight’s presence is used well in the role of Hunt’s mentor, and a host of other familiar names contribute in equally well suited roles.
Of course, the star of the show is De Palma who while subduing his innate signature style somewhat, still manages to craft one of the more distinctive action movies of the 1990’s. The sequels were all directed by action heavy weights but none of them seemed to understand (or appreciate) the TV show to the same degree as he did and so their movies, while fine, were merely just action vehicles. The action present in De Palma’s Mission Impossible was defined by the concept of the television series and so it had an appropriate, distinctive, and recognisable personality. Indeed it’s worth noting that this signature style, built around intelligent brain-over-brawn set-pieces, laid the groundwork for the type of action movie that was to dominate US action cinema during the 2000’s and thus it signified an important break from the formula which defined the action movies of the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
Terrific adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel by Steven Soderbergh with George Clooney in top form as a serial bank robber who breaks out of a Florida prison so that he can pull a diamond heist with the help of his regular accomplice (Ving Rhames). While doing so, he is forced to kidnap a beautiful but tough federal marshal in the form of Jennifer Lopez and an unlikely relationship between the two develops. As you’d expect from a Leonard-Soderbergh project, Out of Sight is a slickly crafted and worded film with all the style of Soderberg’s Oceans films but with more restraint and a better story. David Holmes chimes in with an equally slick and well weighted score. The highlight of this synthesis between dialogue, look, and score comes during the central romantic moment of the film which is full of playful innovation. Lopez and Clooney are brilliant together displaying palpable chemistry as they woo and zing each other in equal measure.
Rating: The Ugly – 64.1 Genre: Horror Duration: 88 mins Director: Alexandre Aja Stars: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss
Typically, modern remakes are not worth endorsing but given that Piranha has been remade by countless straight-to-Sci-Fi-Channel cheese-fests over the years, Piranha 3D gets special consideration for being one of the few that managed to be as much fun as its predecessor. In fact, the movie references come so thick and fast that you’d swear Dante and Sayles were behind this one as well. There are some fine cameos most notably that Richard Dreyfus/Matt Hooper one and even some decent actors on show such as Elizabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, and Jerry O’Connell (with the latter being particularly hilarious). These factors along with a fresh screenplay and some fun direction help raise the quality of Piranha 3D well above average.