You are reading that headline right. One of the team, Dimitris, has decided to share his love of movies with us and is now writing up more than just Retro Reflections. We will try to work these in as the occasional 2pm article each week. So to kick things off, let's take a look at his first Movie Review.
I watched the Mission Impossible series when I was a kid. It was not my favorite show but I remember the music, disguises and self-destruct messages. As for the movies, I loved the second one but was disappointed by its sequel so I missed Ghost Protocol.
The fifth installment of the series finds Ethan Hunt losing his allies and being chased by an evil IMF with a sinister agenda to cause world chaos. The first act is great, with impressive stunts and a hand-to-hand fight where two characters coordinate their moves. It sets up the tone for the rest of the story, persuading you this may be Ethan’s last mission and establishing his relationship with a mysterious female agent who plays a vital role.
During the second act the hero travels to Europe and Africa. I loved the confrontation in Vienna because it has subtle humor (e.g. when Ethan realizes how taller his opponent is) and a sense of luxury and danger, taking advantage of the opera architecture. Later we get to see Ethan do what he does best, infiltrate a building with security that would give Spiderman a hard time. What happens there doesn’t really make sense but it is original and intense. There is even a bike chase sequence, with amazing direction, reminding of MI 2.
Unfortunately, the bike chase ends abruptly and the narration slows down. Generally, the third act is less imaginative than the rest of the movie. It has some action and a smart deception trick but I was a bit disappointed by the plot development and climax (1).
Tom Cruise is perfect for Ethan Hunt, a guy who gains your respect without trying to be “cool”. There are some details that add nuances to his character, for example when he hesitates to answer to the girl in the record shop it is obvious he has a long, troublesome past. When Benji says he will need to hold his breath for three minutes under water Ethan is worried but hides it. He is the top agent but knows his limits, perhaps also worries about his age. Rebecca Ferguson is suitable for Ilsa, an agent who is attractive, serious and skilled and makes a fine couple with the hero. Simon Pegg is playing Benji, who supports his friend and offers some comic moments too. Ving Rhames has a rather limited role and Jeremy Renner is less interesting as Ethan’s former boss.
The direction is of high quality, as the story takes place in many different locations, in day and night, both indoors and outdoors. The actions scenes often involve Ethan not using a gun and are nicely done.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivers more than I expected when I went to the cinema. Its main idea may not be original and its plot has some holes (2) but it grabbed my attention from the start. The hero has to overcome many challenges and Tom Cruise makes him believable and likeable. It would be great with a more exciting ending but it still is a solid action movie.
Spoiler alert! (seriously, don't read down past here if you haven't seen the movie and don't want something spoiled for you. You have been warned.)
(1) I never wondered if Ilsa would betray Ethan because it was made obvious she cared about him. Also, the revelation about Atlee and the Syndicate was stereotypical: a corrupted employee does something bad, his political superiors ignore it and only the good employee can stop him. Besides, how did Atlee get all this money and why was Solomon so desperate to take it? His organization was already fully functional and very effective. Moreover, it was impossible for CIA to ignore for so long the existence of the Syndicate, which had recruited dozens of former agents and was active in many areas of the planet. Lastly, Solomon acted like an idiot when he got caught.
(2) For example, how did the Syndicate learn about the record shop or was always a step behind Ilsa except for when she met Atlee? How did Solomon not understand that llsa stayed behind twice while Ethan had escaped because she had helped him?
Review by Dimitris