Summer Movie #71 – Mission: Impossible 3 (J.J. Abrams, 2006): With this movie the franchise got back on to firmer ground. The film is more about the technology and the capers than the big action set pieces. It has a number of tightly plotted (and edited) sequences that feel like Mission: Impossible, as opposed to “insert generic action franchise”. Keri Russell’s short appearance foreshadows her excellent work on “The Americans” (which you should be watching, if you are not already). I’d forgotten that Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q both appear as part of Ethan Hunt’s team for this one. Philip Seymour Hoffman was wonderful as the villain. Finally, this film has to have the most MacGuffin-ish MacGuffin in the history of stories. The whole plot centers around the “Rabbit’s Foot” – people die, kill, kidnap, torture, and offer to pay vast sums of money for this thing. Yet, at the end of the movie you’ve got no clue as to what it is supposed to be – which is the point. It drives the plot, but what it is matters not at all. I had fun. One more before I go see the new one.
Summer Movie #72 – Three Kings (David O. Russell, 1999): This is one of my favorite moves – the Gulf War era’s answer to “Kelly’s Heroes”. I love how Russell takes comedy and drama and slams them into each other in this (common for his movies, but I think it is exceptionally effective here). I also love the cinematography – great photography, beautiful processing, and innovative technique. It has great action sequences that are very different than anything else out there – you just don’t see many battle scenes played with Peter Cetera crooning in the background. It is to my mind the best depiction of the “media war” done on film yet. This is also the movie that convinced me George Clooney could really act. If you’ve not seen this, treat yourself soon.
Summer Movie #73 – Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986): Lately I’ve been watching a lot of 1980s action movies and I’ve been watching the Mission: Impossible franchise. At the center of that particular Venn diagram is one movie – “Top Gun”. Roger Ebert really summed up this movie when he said, in effect, that it was hard to review because the good parts are overwhelmingly good, but the bad ones are unrelentingly bad. Really when there are planes, it is awesome, when people talk it is terrible. You really could just watch the opening credits part – almost pornographic shots of aircraft being readied for launch over the Harold Faltemeyer them, then launch and Kenny Loggins – and skip the rest of the movie. Here are some question that occurred to me this time:
- Does Hong Kong really produce “rubber dog shit” and are there people who pay airfreight to have it shipped in cargo planes? If so, why?
- Is it possible that Tony Scott didn’t realize he was making gay porn?
- Did that aircraft carrier not have any pilots aboard until “Maverick” and “Iceman” were flown in special?
- When “Maverick” asks permission for a flyby after his big victory at the end, he is informed “the pattern is full”. Full of what? The whole setup for the preceding fifteen minutes of the film is that there were no other planes flying during the big dogfight except the two stars – and one rescue helicopter.
Still, for some reason I wound up watching it, and probably will again someday.
Summer Movie #74 – Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven, 1990): I’ve never understood why this film enjoys the popularity it does with some people. I think Verhoeven was effectively blocked from making a much more interesting film about the slippery nature of reality by the presence of Schwarzenegger and Schwarzenegger was asked to do things he simply doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off. I still like it, but I don’t think it measures up to, say, “Robocop” or “Starship Troopers” on the one hand or to “Conan the Barbarian” or “Running Man” on the other. I also do not get why Jerry Goldsmith’s score for this is so well-regarded. Again, I love his work but don’t see this as his best. It sounds to me like someone took James Horner’s score for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and mixed in elements from Basil Poledouris’s score for “Conan the Barbarian”. Maybe it is the mixture? I don’t know. Still, this movie has a bartender throwing a machinegun to a three-foot tall hooker so she could mow down a bunch of guys in tac armor, so I have to love it a little bit.
Summer Movie #75 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011): I really enjoyed this movie. Bird, who had made his reputation with animated films (“The Iron Giant”, “The Incredibles”…) built a fast-paced action thriller that hit all the spots for this franchise – intricate caper scenes, exotic locations, high-tech wizardry, all the good stuff. I also liked that the script paid attention to events in the previous movie and the film featured cameos from some of those actors. Simon Pegg becomes the new “Barney”(and also “Scotty” in Abrams second big franchise – always the tech guy and comic relief). Jeremy Renner does a good job doing a two-hour audition reel for the Bourne films and for the Avengers. No high art, but a good example of what it is. Now I’m ready for the new one… and this is it for the summer 2015 movie reviews.