Posts Tagged ‘Tom Cruise’

The Medellin Shuffle

American Made

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Caleb Landry Jones, Jesse Plemons, Jayma Marks, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez

Fair Game, Edge of Tomorrow and Mr & Mrs Smith director Doug Liman reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow blockbuster star Tom Cruise (Top Gun, A Few Good Men, The Last Samurai) in American Made giving Oscar nominee Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire, Magnolia) an opportunity to act out of his franchise restricted roles in Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher movies.

Cruise’s boyish charm and cheeky bravado is put on full display in American Made when he plays TWA pilot Barry Seal who after initially smuggling banned Cuban cigars into the US, gets recruited by a brash CIA agent Monty Schafer played by Domhnall Gleeson who asks him to run reconnaissance missions in Central America mainly in Nicaragua, Honduras and then further down to drug riddled Colombia.

Soon Barry gets caught up with the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia working for a gang of swarthy and ruthless Latino’s including Pablo Escobar and is flying drug running missions from Medellin back to America.

In the meantime, because of the associated risks involved, Barry hastily moves his wife Lucy played by Sarah Wright and children from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Mena, Arkansas.

In the quiet town of Mena, Arkansas with funding from both the CIA who want Barry to spy on the drug cartels and with exorbitant amounts of cash the Medellin cartel are paying him, the town starts booming financially until things go horribly wrong specifically when Lucy’s redneck brother JB wonderfully played by Caleb Landry Jones gets arrested by Sheriff Downing played by Jesse Plemons (Black Mass).

Mozart in the Jungle star Lola Kirke (Mistress America, Gone Girl) has a brief appearance as the suspicious Sheriff’s wife Judy Downing.

The unmanageability of Barry’s life rapidly begins to spiral out of control when he is accosted by drug enforcement agencies as well as trying to appease the brutal Medellin control in between being caught up in all sorts of international Reagan era political intrigue involving American backed rebels fighting the Communist Sandinista’s in Nicaragua. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua

Tom Cruise gives one of his best onscreen performance in a convoluted film sufficiently directed by Doug Liman while the script does not give sufficient screen time to the supporting actors of whom Caleb Landry Jones (Contraband) stands out as the reckless brother-in-law who inadvertently draws attention to the Mena Medellin drug run shuffle. The best line in the film is “I am the Gringo that delivers stuff”.

If audiences enjoyed films like Kill the Messenger, then American Made is similar viewing held together by Cruise’s flying bravado which first captivated audiences in the hit film Top Gun.

American Made gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 while the flashback structure of the narrative is cleverly crafted in a palatable cinematic style, so that the film’s ending is shocking but not unexpected. Recommended viewing.

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medell%C3%ADn_Cartel

 

Guns for Opium

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Director: Edward Zwick

Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Holt McCallany, Danika Yarosh, Patrick Heusinger, Robert Knepper, Aldis Hodge

After Jack Reacher was first introduced to cinema audiences in 2012, the first film simply titled Jack Reacher featured an all-star cast including Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog and David Oyelowo and of course superstar Tom Cruise in the titular role.

While the first film had a brilliant cast, this sequel seems to be less concerned with attracting big stars and rather making Jack Reacher: Never Go Back another Tom Cruise action film.

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Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible, Top Gun) returns in this stand-alone sequel mainly set in Washington D.C. and New Orleans. He stars opposite Canadian star Cobie Smulders of How I met Your Mother TV fame as Captain Susan Turner.

Smulders (The Avengers: Age of Ultron) turns in a solid performance as the no-nonsense Captain Turner who is inadvertently arrested after two of her officers are killed in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances.

Naturally it’s the everyman’s hero, one who has no flashy cars or gadgets, Jack Reacher who comes to the rescue breaking Turner out of a military prison whereby they embark on a quest to uncover the truth behind a shady private military contractor Parasol, represented by the villainous Robert Knepper of Prison Break TV fame.

In the process Reacher, a character based on a series of novels by Lee Child, discovers through a paternity suit filed against him, that he may have a teenage daughter, the Blonde haired and skilful Samantha, a suitably wilful performance by Danika Yarosh who soon forms a close bond with Reacher and Turner as they escape the American capital and head for Louisiana.

Close on their tail is a merciless assassin, The Hunter played by Patrick Heusinger (Black Swan) who ruthlessly hunts the trio to the Mardi Gras capital of America.

As the conspiracy deepens and the body count rises, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back becomes an absorbing and fast-paced thriller with loads of action skilfully directed by Edward Zwick, an accomplished American filmmaker responsible for films like Glory, Pawn Sacrifice and Blood Diamond.

While this film is not as good as the brilliant original film, Jack Reacher directed by Christopher McQuarrie it certainly will stand up as a continuation of another action franchise for Tom Cruise who inhabits the role of Reacher with ease and confidence.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is worth watching, while the plot is not particularly inventive, but certainly entertaining, is recommended for those that enjoy a good old fashioned action thriller, without the CGI, fancy cars or exotic locations. Although there is a particularly well executed action sequence during a Halloween Parade down Bourbon Street which is the highlight of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Manifestation of Destiny

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney

Tom Cruise reunites with Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie in the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Mission Impossible franchise with the latest film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Unlike the Brad Bird directed Ghost Protocol, which was lavish and outlandish, Rogue Nation is a more grittier and muscular spy thriller, both written and directed by McQuarrie, with pristine cinematography by Robert Elswit and returns to a more European feel which the original Mission Impossible film had back in 1996 classically directed by Brian de Palma.

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Cruise is joined again by Jeremy Renner (Ghost Protocol, The Avengers), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible 1,2 and 3) and Simon Pegg (Ghost Protocol, Star Trek Into Darkness).

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The female role is brilliantly taken up by the blue-eyed Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) as the femme fatale British agent Ilsa Faust who gives her male counterparts a run for their money.

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Sean Harris (Prometheus) plays the sinister silver-haired villain Soloman Lane with a steely reserve and a distinctly British coldness, who is the mastermind behind the syndicate controlling several rogue agents hence the term rogue nation.

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Alec Baldwin (The Cooler, Still Alice) plays the exasperated IMF chief who has to answer to the bigwigs at Langley, Virginia and orders Brandt played by Renner to find the elusive Ethan Hunt, still expertly played by Cruise who is on a covert mission in Vienna, Austria to uncover the sinister syndicate, a supposed spook organization made up of international ex-spies which are responsible for all sorts of nefarious worldwide events from plane crashes to assassinations. The Vienna sequence during a performance of Turandot at the Opera House is clearly inspired by The Quantum of Solace, and earlier Bond films and is superbly choreographed.

The action moves swiftly to the exotic location of Casablanca, Morocco to what must be one of the best sequences in the film, the breaking in at a desalination plant on the outskirts of the city, which naturally leads to a spectacular chase sequence involving BMWs and motorbikes ending up along a desert highway.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has all the hallmarks of a classic British spy thriller and as the nail biting narrative returns to London in the closing section of the film, the brittle spy jargon is superbly written by McQuarrie with such lines as “Ethan Hunt is the Manifestation of Destiny”.

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is highly recommended, beautifully paced, eloquently written and the muscular action sequences will not disappoint right up to the suspense filled climax. Fans of the previous films will enjoy Rogue Nation and hope that this is surely not the end of a hugely successful and fascinating film franchise which has always had amazing stunts, brilliant action sequences and exotic locations, the bespoke ingredients of any spy thriller.

 

 

57th Golden Globe Awards

The 57th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 23rd January 2000 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama – American Beauty

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Best Actor Drama – Denzel Washington – The Hurricane

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Best Actress Drama – Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry

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Best Actor Musical/Comedy – Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon

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Best Actress Musical/Comedy – Janet McTeer – Tumbleweeds

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Best Film Musical/Comedy – Toy Story 2

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Best Supporting Actor – Tom Cruise – Magnolia

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Best Supporting Actress – Angelina Jolie – Girl, Interrupted

Best Director – Sam Mendes – American Beauty

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Best Foreign Language Film – All About My Mother (Spain)

Temple of the Infinite Gods

Oblivion

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The undeniable truth about Tom Cruise Sci-Fi movies is that he doesn’t really star in a bad film. Like the success of  the riveting 2002 Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, Oblivion is a glossy 21st century version of 2001 a Space Odyssey with gorgeous cinematography by Claudio Miranda (who won an Oscar for Life of Pi) and a very tantalizingly post-modern narrative involving Jack Harper played by Cruise and his effective team member Victoria played by Andrea Riseborough (W/E) who live in a post apocalyptic earth high above the carnage in a swish pent house resembling Bespin Cloud City from The Empire Strikes Back and whose job in 2077 is to look after huge hydroelectric plants which are converting the earth’s ocean energy to be used towards the future colonization of one of Saturn’s more inhabitable moons as Earth is no longer entirely livable.

Oblivion through some stunning production designs sets up a seemingly post apocalyptic planet in which scavengers have invaded and attacked the moon causing much havoc with the world and the tidal systems, and once where there were cities lies a wasteland. Except that Jack Harper whose memory has been wiped clean of the apocalypse has flashbacks of a meeting with a mysterious woman, Julia subtly underplayed by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), at the base of the Empire State Building sixty years earlier back in 2017, pre-apocalyptic New York City. Themes of liberty and the eternal struggle of the human spirit against insurmountable odds is beautifully explored in Oblivion and as the film progresses, one gets the feeling that this is a three act Scientology inspired opera on the Infinity of Space.

As Jack and Victoria report to a distant projected screened image of Sally, their supervisor, played with a Southern drawl by Melissa Leo on the orbiting space station Tet, one gets the sense of something sinister occurring much like the omniscient spaceship computer Hal 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Without giving away too much of the plot twists, and in Oblivion there are many, Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski’s existential version of the Odyssey is superb to watch and whilst the film is evenly paced, the last act of the film, in which many narrative threads are elegantly woven together, Oblivion clearly appears as a cinematic pastiche of all successful Sci-Fi films from the last four decades from Star Wars to The Matrix trilogy to the Mad Max movies.

Not as tightly woven as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Oblivion is a gorgeously slick odyssey to the Temple of the Infinite Gods namely in outer space with a huge amount of twists and certainly shows that Cruise at the age of nearly 51 still has what it takes to carry such an inventive and intriguing science fiction cinematic fantasy. Oblivion is worth watching especially for serious Sci-Fi fans! Also stars Morgan Freeman  as the mysterious Beech sporting a huge cigar in a sadly underwritten cameo and Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Sykes also familiar as Jamie Lannister in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Arsenal of Intrigue

Jack Reacher

Get Jack Reacher!

Get Jack Reacher!

Tom Cruise returns to the big screen as Jack Reacher in the title role, a less glamorous version of  Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible Franchise a untraceable drifter who gets called to Pittsburgh following a multiple sniper shooting incident leaving four people dead. Jack Reacher is directed by the screenwriter of Valkyrie Christopher McQuarrie and based upon the book by Lee Child who turns out an evenly paced suspense thriller with Reacher teaming up with the District Attorney’s daughter Helen Rodin played by Rosamund Pike to help solve a seemingly senseless crime leaving five innocent people dead expertly shot in broad daylight in Pittsburgh.

Jack Reacher uses military training and a quirky way to get to solve the crime and find out who really is behind the seemingly sense killings. Unlike the horrific real-life massacre at Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, there does appear to be a motive behind the senseless act of violence in downtown Pittsburgh which occurs in Jack Reacher as the film not only looks at the alleged perpetrator but also at the victims. Soon the real criminals are exposed along with a dodgy Georgian (ex-Soviet Union) corporation taking over the American construction industry.

Whilst Jack Reacher is a well-timed suspense thriller, one gets a feeling that Tom Cruise’s days playing an action hero are numbered. Although that said Bruce Willis is still churning out Die Hard sequels. Despite the random violence explored, there is underlying sense in the film that America is never going to allow its citizens to forfeit their right to bear arms, as outlined in the second amendment.

Jack Reacher is an engaging action film especially as a crime reconstruction thriller, with Cruise naturally holding his own as the unconventional recession-hit action hero, using other people’s cars and catching buses. Watch out for a brief appearance by German film director, actor and screenwriter Werner Herzog as the arch villain. Interesting casting to say the least and unfortunately the talented Richard Jenkins is underutilized in Jack Reacher, but remains necessary as does Robert Duvall to create a strong supporting cast.

Initiating Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Surviving the Sand Storm

The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible films is simply fantastic and exceeds the dimensions and downfalls of the last two Mission Impossible films. Directed by Brad Bird, Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt whose tag line “this is your mission should you choose to accept it”, takes special agent Hunt from the Kremlin in Moscow to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai to a fantastic 007 sequence in Mumbai complete with seduction, missiles and a superb action sequence.

While Mission Impossible 3 featured Philip Seymour  Hoffman as the elusive villain and was a much more bloody and heart pounding film with chase sequences in Berlin and Shanghai, it is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol that shows that while Tom Cruise might be getting older, he certainly has not lost his touch as one of the quintessential action film stars of the last three decades.

In Ghost Protocol this is helped by a more robust and slimmed down supporting cast including Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker and The Town,  Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and Michael Nyqvist as the villain from the Swedish films of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is fabulous for the spectacular stunt  sequence at the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai sandstorm car chase while the Mumbai automated car storage sequence and is definitely a homage to all the hugely popular James Bond franchise.

All the Mission Impossible films are formulaic but it is that perfect formula which works: daring action hero taking on an elusive villain whilst performing dangerous stunts in exotic international cities. All the films have allowed for great cameos by a host of international stars including Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anil Kapoor, Vanessa Redgrave and Kristin Scott Thomas to name a few. Ghost Protocol does not disappoint for all the fans of the previous three films and this fourth instalment does hint at more to follow especially with the competent Jeremy Renner in the cast…

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