MOVIE REVIEW: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – Delivers Without Trying To Get Too Cerebral

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I want to hate Tom Cruise. I really do. He kind of weirds me out and I heard that he makes actors taller than him (which is just about everyone) squat slightly so they’ll always be the same height as him. Despite that, when I’m faced with movies like Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, I’m forced to admit a grudging respect for his acting skills. Despite the fact that this is the fifth sequel, and the whole series should be floundering by now, this latest installment proves that Cruise is doing the impossible. He’s making sequels that are better than the original.

Cruise returns as Ethan, a man working for IMF, the Impossible Mission Force. The problem this time is that Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the director of the CIA, thinks that the entire department is unnecessary and shuts it down. Despite his unemployed status, Ethan still has buddies like Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg), and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). With their help, he decides to continue his pursuit of the Syndicate, and its evil shady leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

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The franchise has the same suspenseful energy that generally gives me hand sweats and heart palpitations. That’s surprising, because you’d think I’d be desensitized to that by now. But I genuinely flinched during the sideways motorcycle scene and had to look away a few times. That’s the sign of a good suspense right there, because I never flinch away from the screen.

Another strong point I’ve always found with this franchise is unlike most action franchises, they actually manage to portray females as more than Madonna saints or ‘fighting f-toys’.  Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a British spy, is more than just a love interest or damsel in distress. She’s a show stealer in her own right.

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Tom Cruise manages to still come across with the energy of a much younger man and he’s in rare form in this movie. I have to say, the only time I like him is during the Mission Impossible movies and he has not let me down yet. When he does these movies, he stops being that creepy scientologist guy, and instead oozes charisma. In this one, he was pure magic.

Mission Impossible is a franchise that respects the genre. Unlike other action franchises, (James Bond comes to mind) they don’t force complicated storylines and plot twists. Instead, they keep the story simple and deliver exactly what action fans want. Pure escapism.

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Sean Harris with his strangely raspy voice is the perfect villain. Alec Baldwin brings back shades of Jack Donaghy with his corporate portrayal of the most powerful man in the CIA. None of the actors in the movie laid down on the job.

Mission Impossible continues to be both commercially and critically successful because they respect their formula and they stick with it. I don’t want to have to rewind to figure out what the heck is going on in an action movie. I want to watch explosions and people getting beat up. Mission Impossible delivers without trying to get too cerebral. Because of that, I have to give this one a worth the watch.

WE GIVE IT: 4.5 STARS!

four and a half stars

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Movie Review: Deliver us from Evil (2014)

Deliver-Us-from-Evil-2014-Movie-PosterFeels like two Clichés sewn Together

stars

Deliver us from Evil is a suspense movie currently performing at number 4 at the box office. It’s a unique crime thriller with a twist and is an enjoyable, if occasionally plodding watch.

The premise is this. New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), who of course has a bucket load of personal problems, is investigating a series of strange crimes. When those crimes take on a religious theme, he joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), who knows his way around an exorcism. Together, the two combat demon possessions that are terrorizing the city.

The movie plays a bit like a one hour procedural crime drama. It is based on Ralph Sarchie’s own real life cases, though I’m pretty sure they had little to do with demon possessions and more to do with people being psychos.

The movie starts excitingly suspenseful, though it follows the standard formula. The cop is a cynic who doesn’t believe in demons. The priest is desperate to convince him before it’s too late. When he eventually does, the movie fizzles out and starts to drag.

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You’d figure the action would pick up once the two decide demons are real and they need to fight them, but instead it slows down significantly. A twist to put Sarchie’s family in jeopardy feels rather forced and convoluted. It feels like the writer had a lot of time to write the first half of the movie, then got bored and phoned in the rest when it should have gotten better.

The actors do a commendable job and the priest with the checkered past is a great twist on an old school character. Bana does cynical and menacing like he was born for the part and Ramirez’ character is so well done you’d think he was real rather than an add-on character designed to flesh out the script.

Adding the Doors as the soundtrack was a stroke of genius, as this movie had that Doors dark and violent atmosphere that is underlined by the soundtrack perfectly. They really couldn’t have chosen a better score.

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The movie goes a bit too heavy on secondary plot lines in an attempt to creep us out, and there it gets confusing instead. There’s one part with a dead pedophile that I really didn’t get at all. I mean, yes, I know pedophiles are evil, but what does that have to do with demonic possession? Comments on PTSD (because the movie involves a lot of troops returning from Iraq) feel out of place as well.

The movie could have gone in an interesting direction, but instead, it relied on standard plot points for both the crime drama and exorcism genre, and feels like two clichés sewn together. The saving grace is the addition of a hard drinking, womanizing priest who is brought to life by Edgar Ramirez.

The movie is a watchable effort. It has some good scares and some good twists, but halfway through it plods a bit and struggles to regain its momentum.  Watch official trailer below:

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