Like other series in this blog “Yes or No” is ripped off Nathaniel. It also won’t last long because I just see the good and the bad within movies instead of seeing what switches the movie could have made. Brad Bird‘s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is one of those rare cases where the thing that can make the movie better is already within it, it just needs highlighting while pushing the boring parts out. With….
Yes: Action sequences. Especially the first two which are immaculate pieces of cinema, starting from when Agent Hanaway (Paul Gross lookalike Josh Holloway) almost gets away from the bad guys. Then we get to when our hero, Impossible Missions Force Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), escapes from a Russian prison with the help of a few friends. I apologize for conflating them but they just have the same spirit.
These scenes have the greatest acting in the movie, from Lea Seydoux as Sabine Moreau – more about her later – to the goofy way Simon Pegg‘s IMF Agent Benji Dunn says ‘sorry,’ to Cruise actually pronouncing ‘Bogdan’ (Miraj Grbic) properly. It also took me days to realize that I was listening to Eminem, the perfect background music to Cruise punching out Russians of both hot shirtless prisoner or armed guard form.
It’s a surreal adrenaline pumping dream where there’s a tiger behind every door, or in this case an enemy behind every turn, back alley or hallway. These remind me of video game levels, Bird’s animation training translating so well in hyper-reality. If only he could have sustained this energy. Sure, that sandstorm was ballsy and visually ambitious but the movie hurriedly goes from one locale to another, making these changes feel forced.
No: Mikael Nyqvist as sadistic, apocalypse lover and nuclear warhead fetishist Hendricks. “For some reason, this $100 million tent pole movie couldn’t afford to hire Christoph Waltz. I’m underwritten, mostly silent and one note.”
Yes: It’s sad that Seydoux as Sabine is an afterthought in some of the criticism I’ve read. How else can a relatively unknown actress magically transform herself from an idealized young lover Midnight in Paris to a sashaying gunslinger in this movie? Sabine is an assassin getting paid with diamonds, which is a hilarious, borderline sexist stereotype by the way. But her reptilian yet graceful demeanour, the way she literally bears her teeth while exclaiming ‘Tuez-le!’ is what I look for in a beautiful yet scary woman If there’s anything I love, it’s an actress’ dedication to camp even in a secondary role.
No: Auteur-izing an actor here, but Jeremy Renner picks characters who obsessively follows esoteric, self-inflicted honour codes brought on by the post-traumatic, stressful, working class ‘modern’ masculine condition. His character, ‘analyst’ William Brandt, is one link more helpful in saving Ethan’s life in that thrilling Burj scene. But he’s so negative, nagging his teammates during missions and constantly picking fights with then. Is this who we want to spend two hours with in the new MI movies?
Yes: Instead of William, Agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) seems more of a deserving heir for Ethan. Since she and Hanaway were an item, both she and Ethan are kindred spirits in the ‘I lost love for this job’ cliché. She also hides her pain during missions most of the time. And there’s also something about Patton’s performance as a woman in the field, never seeming vulnerable like the way other movies present women. Her bone structure doesn’t get in the way of her being occasionally worn down, not caring which angle makes her face look better.
This is especially true in the Mumbai scenes. Ignore that image where she bites a cherry so seductively that it’s cartoonish. It’s probably her biceps talking but it seems like she’s wearing her slit green dress like an athlete, revealing skin for a public appearance but she stops being that ‘feminine’ once she’s in a more private place.
Yes and SPOILER: Mrs. Julia Hunt (Michelle Monaghan). Monaghan is a great actress and a national treasure just like many actresses who broke out in the mid 2000’s and are now stuck within girlfriend roles and worse. I’ve spent most of this post praising this movie’s women. I think I’m straight. 3.5/5
Isn’t today Guy Fawkes day? If yes, then those guys are doing it wrong.
Yes, The Town is a masochistic Boston Tourism film. Also, for some reason, screenwriters today have to add vulnerability or worse, neediness to get two unlikely people like career bank robber Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and assistant bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) into a relationship, especially since the former robbed the latter. Thankfully, ‘rebound from a bank robbery’ is better than ‘he’s so gruff and masculine,’ the former being an assessment that Claire’s off-screen friends have given her. I didn’t hate it as much as Dana Stevens, despite having the same gripes as I do.
This movie also reminds me of LA-set film Set It Off. Spoilers: Desmond Elden (introducing Owen Burke) is Kimberly Elise, Gloansy (Slaine, rapper?) is Vivica A. Fox, Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) is Queen Latifah – for more than one reason apparently – and Douggie, as his ex and Coughlin’s sister Krista (Blake Lively) calls him, is Jada Pinkett. Yes, I know the main cast of Set it Off by heart while I had to iMDb the names of the robbers in this movie. Also, for some reason, with a lust-worthy cast that also includes Jon Hamm, I thought Burke was the cutest. My working class east-end formative years really screwed me up.
And yes, Hall and Lively’s growing talents are no match for Gone Baby Gone‘s Michelle Monaghan and Oscar-robbed Amy Ryan, but then arguably the women in this film didn’t get to do much. But for some reason, the men in this film are better than the male veterans in Affleck’s first film. Hamm and Renner gave great soliloquies that seem more convincing than Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris.’ The ‘we’re gonna get you’ or ‘I took you in’ that I would normally hate in other less-polished scripts. The camera somehow also makes their close-ups dimensional, thanks to DP Robert Elswit. Affleck’s head and neck bobs are still distracting and his delivery is the weakest of what is still a decent bunch of male actors.
The film’s last job takes place Fenway Park, reminding me of the big urban settings of the 70’s urban crime films that it’s been compared to. If there’s anything close to revolutionary about crime/action/western films – not saying this film is a western at all, by the way, so calm down – it’s how a film lets the audience see and hear guns. Not a gun expert here, but the weapons are bigger and badder than I remember them, the lower interior of the stadium muffling the gunshots, firing dozens of rounds a second, breaking the edges of SWAT shields. The casualties also look more realistic, when a man’s face swells after being hit in the cheek, looking like the old photos of gangster crime scenes.
In a conversation that occurs when Douggie visits his father Stephen (Chris Cooper) in a federal pen, the latter destroys the former’s perception on his supposed ‘angelic’ mother. In a way, Stephen touches on Doug’s perception of women. Claire and Krista are both Cressida, betraying their man. the consequences for Krista aren’t spelled out.
Doug also knows that Claire has betrayed him, yet he isn’t cruel to her. He doesn’t point out her betrayal since he has lied to her just the same. He also gives her two gifts, understanding her decision and maintaining his perception of her ‘angelic’ nature despite of what she’s done. The Town doesn’t have the character and moral ambiguity of his earlier effort, but Doug and his treatment of women are good enough for me. Maybe, knowing this about him, his doomed relationship with Claire isn’t unconvincing after all.
- Movie Review: The Town (blogcritics.org)
Did you know that Kristin Scott Thomas is in this movie? You’d almost forget because they kill her off at the first twenty-five minutes. Killing off Emilio Estevez is fine, but killing off KST is unforgivable. As Nathaniel R wrote, she has to put up with so much shit. With all due respect, she can serve this movie better than Emmanuelle Beart can.
Director Brian de Palma long takes, putting us inside Ethan’s (Tom Cruise) POV during a mission. He also likes canted angles. He uses it when Ethan when his team dies in Prague and contacts someone higher up at the IMF (not the real IMF). This guy here is accusing Ethan of supplying money from the IMF to add to the bank account that his father’s illness would have bankrupted. Ethan knows nothing about this money. He’s also accusing him of betraying the agency for a certain Max. Who the h is this Max?
You know what, Cruise is a pretty good-looking guy. I don’t know why I never got it, except for the fact that he oversells half of all the scenes that he’s in. And when stuff explodes, his arms flail. If I ever saw flailing arms on an actor, I would never consider casting him in any action film. Which is probably why I’m not a casting director.
This is obviously the best installment on the Mission Impossible series, having the class, panache, clean finish, glamour and sex while the others are too focused on the action-y, physical aspect of the action film. But yes, I am still looking forward to the new sequel because of Jeremy Renner, who’ll at least bring the sex part into the equation.
I hate comparing one movie with another, but genre theory kind of makes it inevitable. A movie fits a certain canon and either adds to it or does nothing.
Take “Green Zone,” for instance. It’s Hollywood’s rendition of war realism with its share of above average acting and characters, especially with the Middle Eastern players. In other films they’re either raving, invisible, or emasculated. Here, they’re still yelling as loud as the American soldiers, but their anger’s is more intelligent and articulated. General Al-Rawi’s (Yigal Naor) scene with Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) especially powerful since it notes the miscommunication on both sides. The movie also introduces an Uncle Tom with a twist in Freddy, a man who ends up being Miller’s interpreter and has his own motivations. The movie also shows the cat and mouse game that’s perfect for urban areas like Baghdad.
The problem in this movie? The yelling. And the gunfire. And the explosion. And the loud score. We get it, invading a Middle Eastern city is loud and messy. But you gotta pace it. In a way, I understand what Iraqis went through just because of the use of sound in this movie. Roger Ebert was all for it and manages to make me feel old, thanks. It was like an hour of gunfire and loud vehicles before I got some rest out of this movie. John Powell should also calm down in the music department. I can already understand how tense the sites are in 2003 Baghdad through diagetic noise, we don’t need synthesized guitar to accentuate that. There’s also no need for the synthesized violins whenever somebody gets preachy. Another thing is the use of digital footage, making the night scenes grainy.
“The Hurt Locker,” on the other hand, is a better example of the Iraq war movie although the treatment of characters aren’t perfect. The Iraqis are always two arms length and aren’t the most verbose people. But then again the Americans aren’t either. The closest thing this movie ever gets to reciting three acts of Hamlet is Sgt. Sanborn (the snubbed Anthony Mackie).
Will James (Jeremy Renner) on the other hand, has this superhuman zen calmness while trying to diffuse a bomb. I guess I had to bring up “The Hurt Locker” because of the sound because it helps characterize James’ demeanor despite of the tense situation. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but the closest comparison I can come up with is “Jaws.” There were like these long, deep notes playing in the background in the bomb scenes. Without these I’d assume that I wouldn’t hear a pin drop in these scenes, especially since there’s so much cerebral musculature involved in James’ job. He would probably want to concentrate on as few things as possible.
Both movies use puzzles and mazes as metaphors to describe the invasion in Iraq. For “Green Zone,” it’s finding a general in the streets of Baghdad. For “The Hurt Locker,” clipping the right wire in a bomb. Both are easy to execute, but like they said in Serious Film, those missions don’t solve anything.