Mission: Impossible (1996)

Released: May 22, 1996. Directed by: Brian de Palma. Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart. Runtime: 1h 50 min.

Based on the hit TV show from the 1960s, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tries to clear his name when he’s suspected for disloyalty to the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) after a mission goes wrong and he’s left as the only survivor.

The script’s mediocre as Ethan must deliver the second half of a non-official cover (NOC) list, a list of covert agents in Eastern Europe, to an arms dealer named “Max” to discover the identity of the actual spy. I watched this three days ago and I barely remembered the NOC list. Out of the first three films, Brian de Palma’s direction and style are easily the least forgettable, as well.

The script does have some surprises and the cast helps keep it interesting, especially Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. He’s charming and great here and “Mission: Impossible” serves as a solid introduction to Ethan.

For the rest of the cast, I’m sure it was surprising when the film came out in 1996 that Emilio Estevez gets killed off in the first 25 minutes. For me, watching this for the first time in 2018, I was just surprised seeing him in this. Jon Voight’s also good as Jim Phelps – the only character from the original TV series.

It’s interesting seeing who Ethan aligns with to try to clear his name, since he can’t exactly get help from the agency. Claire (Emmanuelle Béart) has a decent chemistry with Ethan, but she’s the most forgettable out of the female leads of the first three films. Luther (Ving Rhames) is great and so is Jean Reno as Krieger.

The film itself though only has a few great action scenes, especially the dangling wire scene – which is so tense and the whole sequence is so entertaining – and the train finale is also great.

Throughout the film, Ethan is trying to evade director of the IMF Eugene Kittredge (Henry Czerny). Kittredge wants Ethan to come to them, saying “You find something that’s personally important to him and you squeeze.” The thing is, he doesn’t execute on this line because it doesn’t feel like Ethan has anything to lose. The stakes for this film simply don’t feel high enough, making the non-action scenes dull.

Score: 65/100

Advertisements

Getaway (2013)

GetawayReleased: August 30, 2013. Directed by: Courtney Solomon. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight. Runtime: 90 min.

I like a good action movie as much as the next movie critic. But that’s the key word: good. A good action film, “Getaway” is not.

After former race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) comes home to find his wife missing, he gets a phone call from a mysterious villain who informs him to go to a parking garage to retrieve a fast car.

From there, the Voice gives him random orders, to wreak havoc on the streets, so man on the other end would know he is willing to do just about anything to get his wife back. The orders are rather ludicrous, “smash into whatever you can,” “drive on the skating rink.” At one of the stops, a young girl attempts to steal the car, and she turns out to be the owner of it. She is portrayed by Selena Gomez, the film’s appeal for teenage girls.

Getaway1The Mysterious Villain’s motivation is, of course, personal gain, because, what else would it be? He states in his bad European accent that there is something at a bank and he “needs it.” Apparently, kidnapping someone and sending their loved one on a crazy mission to retrieve them is all the craze in Europe these days. This specific setting is a town called Sofia, Bulgaria; I think. The storytelling is kind enough to flash the name of the town two or three times, but that’s still not enough to make it memorable without research.

Ethan Hawke, as the former race-car driver, is sent on a set of missions; only about 40 per cent of which feel like they have purpose, or advance the story in any way. Many are random, only there to keep the action going. At least the “Fast and Furious” franchise has the courtesy to step out of the driver’s seat, throw around amusing banter between the characters, and have some character and plot development. Those movies are lots of fun, this one just steals from better films – and doesn’t try to put a spin on them. This just rarely stops for a single minute to try create a wholly coherent story, or have good character development. Selena Gomez plays a character who is billed as The Kid. She doesn’t even have a character’s name! Hawke’s character is likable enough for the viewer to care that he gets his wife back, because he’s an okay guy placed in a crappy situation; but every viewer already knows how it ends… So how does that make the film suspenseful?

Gomez and Hawke carry the film, but only with adequate performances; so that’s saying, they’re not particularly memorable. Nor is the film as a whole. Everything about this is lacklustre. Jon Voight literally phones in his performance as the villain, sporting a bad European accent. His character is The Voice.

That is compelling character development, right there. When an actioner is this generic and uninteresting, there is little fun to be had. Sure, it never stops. Sure, it’s never mind-numbingly boring, because something is always happening. But when the action is so repetitive, the experience isn’t compelling or notable.

When a movie can make me derisively laugh at its lame dialogue, I can’t take it seriously. There is a point where Brent is driving (as usual), and he’s saying something along the lines of, “I want to see my wife!” And the villain asks, “You want to see your wife again, right? Then do what I say!” Naw, man, that’s not why he just said “Let me see my wife” about three times in a row. (This is a scene from the movie, but I know I didn’t get it word for word. I’ll have to start bringing a notepad to screenings.)

If you are an audience member who is attending this film for a pulse-pounding, full-throttle, pedal to the metal, non-stop actioner, you shouldn’t be disappointed. But, with unoriginal fast-paced actioners like this; I like it to be fun, and not just the conventional mess this turns out to be. It’s a 90-minute chase movie, where cops chase Magna, Selena Gomez whines and begs to be let go, more cops chase Magna, cops crash because Magna’s just too fast and he has mad skills. The filmmakers put that on a loop, and pray audience members aren’t intelligent enough to notice. This time, they couldn’t getaway with it.

Score: 38/100

Deliverance (1972)

Deliverance

Released: July 30, 1972Director: John BoormanStars: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned BeattyRuntime: 110 minReview written on: November 14, 2012.

What if your river-rafting trip turned into a ride to hell like this one does?

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

The character of Lewis is great because he is threatening, and nature-savvy. Ed is also a great character because he’s pretty timid, and his story is of trying to overcome the odd dangers that face him, and getting over those damn shakes.

Finally, after seeing this I understand whenever someone references Deliverance. There’s some very dark scenes here and there, and the pacing is great. Near the beginning, one might want something to happen. There’s many memorable scenes like the opening comedic voice-over to that banjo duel between Drew and that little kid; it gets more enjoyable as it goes along. This is a film that knows how to be both fun (which is evident in the banjo scene), disturbing (expressed in the rape scene in the woods [it shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, this movie is almost 41 years old]), and thrilling. The characters are great and the acting is great. I really enjoy the story, too. This is a great river-rafting adventure that make the water seem quite, quite dangerous.

Score80/100

Holes

Holes

Release Date: April 18, 2003

Director: Andrew Davis

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver

Runtime: 117 min

Tagline: The adventure is down there… start digging April 18.

 

It’s a nice and unpredictable children’s flick that even adults can enjoy.

Stanley Yelnats the Fourth (Shia LaBeouf) is a poor young teenager who has a pretty unique family. The Yelnats family has been blaming their no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather for years, who brought a curse upon their family a while ago. Stanley hasn’t exactly always had the best of fortunes, and his bad luck is just beginning. After a pair of stolen shoes, belonging to a former speedy baseball player called Clyde ‘Sweetfeet’ Livingston, fall on his head from walking home one day; he gets sent to a juvenile detention camp called Camp Green Lake. The Camp doesn’t really have a lake at all, and the runners of the camp believe that digging holes everyday in the hot sun will strengthen the campers’ character. Stanley builds strong friendships along the way, and must solve a several year-long mystery of why they are actually digging there.

The characters are really good and the cast bring something great to the table, sometimes the screenplay feels a bit messy, but it all works pretty well together.

There are a few reasons why the film doesn’t work as well as the novel; there are just so many subplots that it can make the film pretty crowded. The subplots really are all interesting, so it isn’t a total loss. In the book, it is obviously divided by chapters so it is much easier to follow.

Some of the subplots include: how Stanley’s no-good (well you get the idea!) great-grandfather came to put a curse on his family; the story of Kissin’ Kate Barlow; and how actual Green Lake used to be a town and how it looked before the lake turned into desert. They are quite interesting and they all very much relate to each other in the end.

There is some comedy, adventure, drama and mystery all mixed in here. There are some solid characters, like Stanley who just wants to fit in as the new kid – and soon assumes the nickname of ‘Caveman’. Zero is also a great character, a seemingly quiet and troubled character who can really talk once he’s interested. All the characters add something nice to the film, even if you don’t really like them – they’re charismatic either way.

Both the adult actors (like Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Tim Blake Nelson) and the younger actors each act their parts very well. Voight plays Mr. Sir (whose real name is Marian), who is very irritable after quitting smoking, and is pretty-trigger happy with those CGI yellow spotted lizards (“If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, you won’t die, usually. But if you get bitten by a yellow spotted lizards, you will die, a slow and painful death…always,” my favorite monologue of the character). Weaver plays the lazy Warden, who hogs all the damn shade on the whole camp. Nelson plays Dr. Pendanski, the pretty stupid doctor of the camp.

Patricia Arquette also performs her role well as Miss Kathryn.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Bryon Cotton, Henry Winkler, Siobhan Fallon and Patricia Arquette.

Something I found pretty interesting: Richard Kelly originally wrote an extremely dark and violent post-apocalyptic version of the story which proved much too mature for a children’s audience. Louis Sachar, also the writer of the novel, wrote a screenplay as well and the studio chose that one in favor of his over Kelly’s.

There’s also a really good book sequel to this, called Small Steps that’s a spin-off [of the first book] depicting Armpit’s life outside of Green Lake, and how he’s trying to merge back into society, befriending a mentally disabled (I believe she was epileptic) young girl on his street. Though, of course, a character from his life at Green Lake has to come and screw it all up with a business scheme, and who better than X-Ray to do the trick? Hey, Sachar, I’m still waiting on the movie! I say hopefully…

Holes offers a great and unpredictable experience. Adults can enjoy it, too, as well as kids and it is completely durable and sometimes comedic. The film can be pretty messy in some areas, but it makes up for it in the charm of it all. It’s a childhood favorite of mine and I still enjoy it to this day. It can get a little lengthy, but it doesn’t drag on too much. The cast do an incredible job, and there is a great music video at the end. The film is just really well done. It hasn’t been worn out yet after a large amount of views.

     88/100