Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Best Mission: Impossible Film

Okay now that the last Mission: Impossible movie is out, it's time to rate them. We start with number four and countdown to the best of the series.

4. Mission: Impossible-2 (2000) First, let me praise star Tom Cruise for choosing different directors for each of the Mission: Impossible films. It gives each movie a freshness while the plots may be banal.

For the second outing, Hong Kong action master John Woo was hired to direct. This is clearly a direct opposite approach from Brian De Palma's more cerebral inaugural movie. And you would think with a story by Star Trek writers Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga and a screenplay by Robert Towne, you think you would get some brakes on Woo's over the top action sequences. But what you got was some silly dialogue. Ethan Hunt (Cruise), "We just rolled up a snowball and tossed it into hell. Now lets see what chance it has." Luther (Ving Rhames), "Hope he kills all the bugs, before the yellow dot gets to the red one." And you to some way over the top, loud action sequences and plenty of slow motion.

Still, it's entertaining. You just have to put your brain on pause. Just watch the movie okay. The grade is B.

3. Mission: Impossible: III. (2006) Alias creator J.J. Abrams is brought in to direct the third movie in the series. With the help of screenwriters Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Stat Trek 2009) they create a story where we find that the main character Ethan Hunt has a love life. Abrams brings a more realistic approach to the spy genre. There's plenty of handheld camera shots which can get annoying.

All the spy stuff involves the search for a weapon called "The Rabbit's Foot." But they don't explain it. Yes, it's a big MacGuffin. Another problem? There's a big mistake in casting of the villain. Philip Seymour Hoffman is cast as the big bad arms dealer. (Owen Davian) Hoffman is a great actor. But he can't give his bad guy the menace needed. He's more like a big geek than some powerful arms dealer. And doesn't Hunt's wife played by Michelle Monaghan look like real life wife of Cruise, Katie Holmes. Just thinking.

Yet, got to love the way they start the movie with a flash forward with Davian (Hoffman) threatening Hunt's wife at gunpoint. That keeps your interest. Cool action sequences with a helicopter chase and Cruise swinging from building to building in Shanghai. Excellent use of the old music from the TV series by Oscar winner Michael Giacchino. The grade is B +.

2. Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. (2011) Forget the plot that sounds like The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Madman wants to start World War III so a stronger human may arise. See this movie for Hunt's acrobatics outside of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. How much of this action sequence was actual, I don't know. But it looks all real. Your hands will sweat. Enjoy it for the comic relief of Simon Pegg as Benji. For that matter, I love this new IMF team with actors Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton. The grade is B +.

1. Mission: Impossible (1996) I like my action movies to have some intelligence. And while Director Brian De Palma is ofent accused of ripping off Alfred Hithcock, he and screenwriters Steven Zallian, David Koepp create a twisty spy movie.

But don't forget the action sequences. The break in at the CIA headquarters is one of the most unforgettable theft scenes in film history. And what about the action sequence on the TGV or high speed train. It's hard to tell how much of it was real. Speaking of Hitchcock, for some reason, the TGV scene reminds me of North by Northwest (1959) where Cary Grant is chased by a crop duster, perhaps it's because the heroes in both are wearing suits. Anyway, the TGV scene still has remarkable visuals. The grade is A.

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