Tag Archives: alec baldwin

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Review

11 Aug

It’s hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible film series has been going on since 1996. While the series has had its ups and downs, and by downs I mean Mission: Impossible II, it has remained pretty consistent in how entertaining it is. For quite a while now, my favorite film in the series was J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III, but something has happened in the past week that has changed that. If you haven’t guessed by now, that something was me seeing Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which I can say without a doubt is the best entry in the entire series.

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After the events of Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team have dedicated themselves to finding and bringing down a mysterious shadow terrorist group called the Syndicate. Unfortunately for them, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has been working to shut down the Impossible Missions Force and move all of its tech and people over to the CIA. When he succeeds, Ethan goes on the run, determined to still find and bring down the Syndicate. When he is saved by a supposed Syndicate agent, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt begins to realize that others are also trying to bring down the organization and believes Faust to be a member of MI6. With the help of his old team, including Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Luther Stickall (Ving Rhames), and still on the run from the CIA, the team engages in what they do best, facing the impossible to bring down evil.

I’m just gonna start out by saying that Tom Cruise is the man. He always has been, and we’re all thinking it, but some people are just too afraid to admit the love they have for this guy and his dedication to a project. Remember how blown away we all were in Ghost Protocol when it was revealed that Cruise actually did climb the side of Dubai Tower? Now he outdoes himself once again by getting strapped onto the side of the plane and riding it up thousands of feet in the air. Again, the dedication this man has is unbelievable. I know he isn’t the most iconic action star out there like Stallone or Schwarzenegger, but honestly, Cruise does things no one else will and that puts him at the head of the pack.

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Another thing Rogue Nation has going for it is the return of Ethan’s IMF team that were introduced briefly in the third film and really given character in the fourth. All of the actors have great chemistry and work very well with one another, and you can actually see the character growth that happened between them in between the movies. Rebecca Ferguson is a more than welcome addition, and Sean Harris as the villainous head of the Syndicate is one of the best villains the Mission: Impossible series has to offer. One of the reasons I liked the third film so much was because Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as the villain. I love a good villain and Sean Harris really brings his best. His character is just downright cold.

What’s a Mission: Impossible movie without good suspense? Remember when Hunt is dangling from the ceiling in a pressure and heat sensitive room to hack into a computer before the employee comes back? That was just the start of it. There were parts in Rogue Nation where things got so intense that you could hear audible reactions of people in the theater. That’s always a sign of a great movie, when it can get a response like that. One memorable scene in particular has Ethan Hunt holding his breath for three minutes to shut down an underwater security mainframe. If that scene doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to have an accident, I don’t know what will.

The writer and director of this film, Christopher McQuarrie, has shown that he has serious skills in the action genre already with films like Edge of Tomorrow (as the writer) and Jack Reacher, but remember he’s also the guy that wrote The Usual Suspects. Now his streak of great films continues with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Of course it was a team effort, and it’s clear that the entire cast and crew were determined to make this movie as great as it could be. The are countless good parts of the movie, a lot of great parts, but there are a few truly exceptional scenes that makes this film more than just your average summer action film. Much more.

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The Good Shepherd – Review

13 Dec

There’s been a lot of movies about the CIA and spies, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched one quite like The Good Shepherd. It’s more than just a cloak and dagger spy film. It’s also a story about relationships that should not exist, paranoia, and missed opportunities. It’s also almost three hours long. To some, this length will be a positive, to others it will be a major hindrance.

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In the early days of the CIA, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) devotes his life to the agency and constantly surrounds himself with a collage of friends and enemies. The twist is that he doesn’t know who are his friends and who are his enemies. While he covertly fights for America, his home life becomes a nuisance, constantly interfering with his work. With the Bay of Pigs Invasion proving to be a failure, Wilson begins to question his position in life and whether or not he chose the right path.

Throughout the entirety of The Good Shepherd, the viewer sits through all sorts of historical events. There’s the Blitz of World War II and growing conflict with Russia, all the way up to the Bay of Pigs. Needless to say, a lot happens. In a way, this could make the plot unbelievably confusing, as is the case with a lot of films like this. What makes the story easy to get a grasp on is the fact that all of the espionage isn’t really the focal point of the story. Sure, it’s an important part but what is the crucial plot point is the stability of the characters. This could be through relationship, physical, or mental.

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There are so many great performers giving excellent performances. Matt Damon is the star of the show, and makes it really easy for the viewer to both dislike but also sympathize with his character. Angelina Jolie gives a strong performance, and speaking of strong performances, John Turturro gives an outstanding performance even though he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time. Other stars include Alec Baldwin, John Hurt, Robert De Niro (who also directs), and Billy Crudup. The aforementioned actors have the least amount of screen time, although they make the most of the their roles.

Now, as I said before, this is a very long movie clocking in at two hours and forty five minutes. Personally, I love long movies because I feel like it’s a grand story with a lot to say. That being said, this definitely could have been trimmed down, at least a little bit. Or, even better, it could have made a great miniseries. That’s really what this movie felt like: and HBO miniseries. There’s so much that happens throughout the years of this movie that go by so quickly because of time. It also has moments where the plot slows down and it gets really boring, which just reaffirms the fact that The Good Shepherd would have been a better miniseries.

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I’d like to briefly touch on how amazing the movie looks. The costumes and the sets all look fantastic and very believable. Selling a movie like this would be very difficult unless everything is spot on. Styles and technology changes, and we all get to see that happen as the movie progresses. It’s very interesting and done very well.

I read a review that said said something along the lines of: “It is easier to respect that like The Good Shepherd.” I can see how some critics and viewers could see that, and I couldn’t really argue with that. My opinion is that this is one of the best spy films I have ever seen. It’s not particularly violent and there isn’t too much suspense, but I will say that it is very real, and that’s why I liked it so much. Sure, it can be dry and it is very long, but it’s expertly crafted and surprisingly easy to follow. If you have a free afternoon, you may want to check out The Good Shepherd.