IR Film Review: DEADPOOL [20th Century Fox-IMAX]

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The beauty of “Deadpool” is in the irony of its existence..and even further in its notion of success which it rightfully earned. It should have not happened like this…but it did. “Deadpool” is not a great movie but it hit it just right. It works because it loves what it is. It is both snarky and unbelievably honest. The script has faults and the third act is fairly weak but Ryan Reynolds is a force of will where this character is concerned because he knows the thoughts of Wade Wilson in and out. It is about making fun of your own shortcomings. And that shows why Ryan is ultimately awesome and unbelievable deserving of this. Like “Guardians Of The Galaxy” which paved the way for this film, it is that bursting heart and its paradox that drives it. The opening title sequence perfectly encapsulates this the longer you think about it. “Angel Of The Morning” by Juice Newton is the most unexpected choice but so perfect with these images of death in still life. Deadpool is the harbinger of death but yet the song talks about leaving against your better will. That is what Wade has to do. If you think about it, the same can be true in other Marvel properties. It permeates with Tony Stark & Pepper Potts. When Tony’s place is destroyed in “Iron Man 3”, what resonates is Pepper screaming for him against her better sense. But here the love story despite the action package is utterly front and center in the story. Deadpool as a force of nature plays against it breaking the 4th wall. But, in a sense of reality, it is all that matters. And that is perhaps what Hollywood doesn’t understand about the success. The reason “Deadpool” bashed records this past weekend is simple. The love story. It crossed genders and age brackets. As dysfunctional as it is, love drives everything here. Wade Wilson is an asshole before for sure. But so was Han Solo. So is Starlord. That is why we like them as guys and the girls fall for them. Because there is always redemption. And that is an attractive story to tell.

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The meta thing is simply a device to show how human Wade wants to be. He loves Wham and Voltron and he falls for a prostitute who is a hell of a woman. The story itself, if you look at it, is such a bunch of tropes that it seems to be making fun of itself yet beyond Deadpool himself, the story mechanics are not really that clever. Again the irony of it lies in its reality. Granted this was done for half or less of what these films usually cost. Oddly enough, in more ways than one, “Deadpool” to a lesser extent, reminds me of early 90s superhero movies before they became big. Dolph Lungren as The Punisher for example. The films of Cannon. There is a purity in them despite obvious production shortcomings.

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Beyond these points, you have to examine the underdog nature of what the film is as well. Having met Ryan Reynolds over the years for various movies, including “Green Lantern”…even that movie (which didn’t connect with audiences), he was so earnest in trying to make it whatever it could be. But what people need to always remember is that this was the guy who made “Van Wilder” and “Waiting” (with Chris Pratt’s better half Anna Faris who herself is a force of nature if she ever got the right breakout role). Ryan made it happen. I remember also doing interviews for “Wolverine: Origins” where Deadpool was introduced. The fact that he could come back and make that character new again is 1000 to 1 shot if not more. At the time, I though Taylor Kitsch was the one going to break out as Gambit because there was a bad-ass movie in there. Channing Tatum doesn’t have that same danger that Kitsch had then. Reynolds, apparent in the movie right before this [“Mississippi Burning”], found that right groove. Whoever leaked that test footage, whoever planned it, nailed it right and thereby created Hollywood lore. Wonderful to see. Don’t explain why it happened. Just be glad it did. Love, being yourself and going for broke conquers all. Especially with Morena Baccarin. Period. Deadpool is laughing for all of us.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: 31 [Sundance 2016]

31_8054The aspect of horror and how spectacle fits into the undeniable formula is the thought process that Rob Zombie can always skew but play with. With the new structure of the studios, it is harder and harder to make the film you want. It either has to be huge, undeniably indie or have an angel investor. Or you can do the crowdfunding approach. It worked for Zach Braff…and it definitely takes you back to your roots but it begs the question: what do the investors get in return? Usually with a lot of these approaches, there is a ton of gimmicks in playing to the crowd. You got to have a hook. What “31” has to its strength is a blessing of characters (more on the villain side) that keep it moving. The problem is that the backing superstructure is pretty weak. Now granted, most of the people seeing this film are not going to be looking at that. The one thing that Zombie can definitely do is set a scene. The ending of “Devil’s Rejects” optimizing the song “Freebird” is over the top and exhilarating on many levels. Here, both the beginning and ending have bookends that really set tone, both with music and editing. Zombie’s use of freeze frame is an art and always harkens his films back to the Grindhouse circuit. After the screening, he did make reference to growing up in carnivals among the carnies so that notion of a gypsy existence very much rings true here. Sheri Moon Zombie gets the female vigilante role and busts it out, going for gold. You know she feels safe to do whatever is necessary and she goes for it. The dialogue is what it is since it is working towards an end game. It is more for the theatricality of it then anything else. The revelation of the movie is Richard Brake who plays Doom31_5313head. You’ve seen him in a ton of films and music videos as well as “Game Of Thrones”. He is the movie. His character has little motivation but his sheer presence, intelligence and physicality simply pummels off the screen. This character is doing a job, albeit a violent one, but he loves it. Every time he is on screen, nothing else can dominate it. You can build a new horror franchise off this character. No masks. Pure and simple. The weak spot is the meaning per se of the game itself. Malcolm McDowell, a longtime favorite of Zombie’s, takes on a maniacal role but the chemistry on it is not quite right. He gambles with two older ladies on the results of the game but their inclusion seems neither motivated or essential. The sequences essentially take you out of the movie. The other villain including a murderous midget dressed up like Hitler, two maniacal brothers with chainsaws and a girl/boy team that is all about beauty and the beast by way of a maniacal mix of “The Munsters” and the nihilists from ” The Big Lebowski” is interesting but despite an inkling doesn’t make a story connection. There is a small one with “beauty” but it is never really optimized. Again, the movie doesn’t necessarily need to be that deep. On one side you have a powerful villain presence and some good style but on the other side a fairly weak backbone in terms of concept. But the element of it balances a bit and ending is still pretty bad ass.

C+

By Tim Wassberg

 

IR Film Review: ANTIBIRTH [Sundance 2016]

Antibirth4When you look at the structure of teen angst and rebellion, it is always interesting to look at the progression of both Natasha Lyonne and Chloe Sevigny. I saw Natasha at one of the first parties I attended at Sundance in a private house around 1997 partying with Eddie Furlong. Chloe I originally ran into when she had that infamous run of publicity with Vincent Gallo and “The Brown Bunny”. What these two girls have always known how to do is take risks though neither has truly broken out into mainstream fame. Sevigny has had more success due to the HBO fuel of “Big Love”.

Antibirth3In the new movie “Antibirth” which premieredin Sundance’s Midnight section, there is a possibility for sure but the hand of director Danny Perez is truly not steady enough to balance the tone and make it both horrifying and riveting. How it begins definitely has potential. These two bad ass chicks who are self destructive in their own personal kind of way almost have the necessity of “Thelma & Louise” for a new misshapen generation. The chemistry is palpable. These girls could do some damage if they really wanted to. The background of a desolate wasteland (obviously the tax rebate heaven Michigan in the winter) specifically help situations. Actually too much profanity and incessant drug use (specifically by Lyonne) dull the situation. It would have been better if she went harder (and did less…say heroin). It would become a signal of almost nihilism and a point of no return.

Antibirth2However as soon as the film passes its 1/3 point, it has shifted to become focused on Lyonne who is trying but not controlled enough. Sevigny is better but she disappears literally for most of the movie. The revelation as Lyonne becomes pregnant and starts to transition into the movie’s twist could even feel more isolating if it was shot better and honestly, stayed with a less fantastical. It takes on an almost carnie tone. “Antibirth” has a possibility of hard core sci fi that could have truly transcended optimizing the right score. The last five minutes starts to show that and a wider narrative idea but it is squandered, as though the director thought “this is cool” but wandered too much. It’s too bad because his leading ladies were undeniably up for the challenge, just not used to the point they should have. Their car banter is a small glimpse into what might have been.

D

By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: SISTERS [Universal]

Going up against “Star Wars” is a monumental task but what allows a great functionality within “Sisters” at times is that it knows what it is. Like a more mature version of “Superbad”, it is ultimately about two best friends in real life [Tina Fey & Amy Poehler] (playing sisters here) and how they anticipate each other. The best parts of this comedy is just when these two are riffing in a scene and not trying too hard to sell the story. The story arch has to move along of course but it is during the more non-forced scenes you get a sense of what still makes these two so effective. They are aging and it is apparent but their enthusiasm and love of the work is still there. But first the story to set it up. Amy Poehler plays Maura who is a the straight laced always responsible sister who never got to let loose. Tina Fey is Katie, the happy go lucky one who had more sex than she could count accordingly to her diary in high school. This is a little bit more of a role reversal for the two and it is great at the beginning watching Fey fly her freak flag. The woman has a bent of sexuality that is just hiding beneath that surface that she doesn’t let peak out too often. When she uses it, it is very palatable with her type of comedy because it is tongue-in-cheek but she is also getting a kick out of it.

Unlike the way “Baby Mama” functioned, their bantering like when Fey is trying to get Poehler to ask a cute neighbor to the party feels just right, especially when Fey is making hand signals just away from where Poehler can see. The best part is when they are trying on clothes wearing them the wrong way on purpose because the physical comedy is really  dead on. When it actually gets to the party, the set up almost undermines it and what should be the blow out seems more anticlimactic. The all stars come in with Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and the overplayed (who believes he’s channeling Belushi) Bobby Moynihan keeping the party moving as Poehler attacks her pent up issues with her guy and Fey plays the party mom without going nuts. The side quips with drug and alcohol peddling bits by John Lequizamo and John Cena help because they are supposed to be the grounding force but the bits are too disjointed. The big build up to Poehler’s bound-to-go-wrong sex scene works and gets the laugh but in many ways, the movie (despite its verbal vulgarity) never quite hits extreme physical gags say of “Bridemaids”.

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Jason Moore, famous for “Avenue Q” on Broadway and the first “Pitch Perfect”, keeps the pace moving and lets his girls run amuck but it still feels in the safe zone. The mother/father/daughters/granddaughter subplot and the losing of jobs is handled almost too hamhanded with the ending pretty much petering out in the essence of a happy ending. That is all fine but if you are doing a fairly hard R, there is more to be done. The supporting players actually get to do most of the questionable bits to varying degrees of success. You can see the Animal House just wanting to come out. The drugs are there but it seems like…safe. The two leads as talented as they are, are great to watch but you seem to get a feeling that they are playing nice, when all you want them to be is bad. But then again, they still have to clean it all up in the morning.

C

By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Reviews: AFI FEST 2015 [Hollywood, California]

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The cross section of a film festival in Hollywood always integrates with the aspect of the real versus the aspect of the weird. Life is always about how change reflects exactly what is going on in present day, whether it be political, economical or social, especially in texture of horror but sometimes in fantasy. That is true of AFI FEST 2015.

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Southbound The progression of an anthology film is about maintaining a steady through-line as a narrative progression. The beginning of this tale with wraiths stalking two men running from a sin they committed but ultimately finds them stuck in a time loop is the best because it shows complete lack of control without overwhelmingly resorting to gore or cheap thrills. The second one similarly with an all female rock group really gets the blood boiling at times but peters out in the final moments. However it is the middle story with a simple guy stuck in the middle with one of the girls from the previous story where the rhythm really clicks. The problem is that once that pinnacles there is really no place to go. The requisite two stories afterwards simply feel like epilogues. This speaks to the impact of the earlier stories but the importance of any anthology is finding where that balance is.
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The Mysterious Death Of Perola This film is much more of an art piece compared to the previous film but what this has to its advantage is that it is literally a two hander with a husband and wife filming a couples movie about isolation where the two people never really exist. It starts as minimalist with beautiful framing but slowly but surely disintegrates into something much darker. The film itself is at many points self indulgent committing itself to many cinematic tropes but at the same time there are moments of sheer delight and cinematic texture that really connect. Made in Brazil, there is kind of a new wave texture that very much sings when taking into account certain superstitions of the old world. Ultimately the woman’s story is more affecting than the man’s story although his motivations are unclear. This exercise is not really about story but a sense of ambiance which it achieves while still trying a bit too hard.
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Tale Of Tales This is one of the films I wanted to see that at Cannes but arrived one day too late. Director Matteo Garrone does have a certain voice but the essentials of what he is doing is always a slight bit off (by design of course). His second film: “Reality” I saw at a previous Cannes and his opening shot there reflected why “Gomorrah” overall was a such an affecting picture. However “Reality” was even more affecting once you knew the actual story of its leading man. “Tale Of Tales” is about Garrone’s descent into fantasy and metaphor with three interweaving stories. All dwell in notions of selfishness. One story is about a woman who wants a child so bad she will do anything to get it. The second is about one of two sisters who becomes an analogy of the true consequence in wanting to be young. The last one is about a princess wanting something so bad having to realize that you had the power all along. To try to describe the twists which takes these characters to where they end up is too complicated to begin to explain. However there is a wistfulness and a world created here with giant bugs, ogres, twins born of a dragon and a queen transformed into a beast. Again all are overarching metaphors with a dark sense of comedy to them (much like “Holy Motors” but with a less perverted persistence). Garrone has a very steady sense of self with a neo realist view of subjugated motivations that eventually lead to enlightenment.
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Baskin Sometimes a film’s reason for being lies in its ability to show an existential crisis in the most physical way. Here, it is embodied by a police chief and his protege with their team on a seemingly routine night. The discussions are fairly almost Tarantino-esque in their base nature especially examining each of these men and their inherent flaws through gallows humor. Reality tends to shift and, like the earlier film “Southbound”, turns into a textured loop after they are called for back up to a scene that turns into an accident. The crux of the movie becomes a bloody dissertation of a limbo where a talisman of sorts examines each man’s unwillingness to come to terms with their own shortcomings and, by extension, mortality. The protege begins floating backwards and forwards in his own perception as well as time which is not all together clear (this is Turkish horror by the way). By the final gotcha, the narrative tends to do nothing but inhibit more questions, specifically that the protege is simply bound to make the same mistakes as those before him.
By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Reviews: TORONTO INTL FILM FESTIVAL 2015

PrintThe essence of the Toronto International Film Festival is debated by the vivacity of its films and the late nights of its parties. Like many festivals of its ilk, the Midnight selection seems to shine by knowing a balance between art and commerce. Of course, celebrating in the right way doesn’t hurt. while a limited amount was screened because of an influx of other pressing commitments, an interesting cross section was discovered, as always comes about.

hardcoreHardcore Anything that has Russian director Timor Bekmambetov’s name on it always deserves a second chance. He is very much behind trying to help establish a new Russian voice in action cinema. The thing with something like “Black Lightning” which I saw at Fantasia Film Festival a couple years back is that it was mostly in Russian. Unfortunately you need to have at least a balance of English to allow it to play worldwide or at least keep the dialogue to a minimum. Here different aspects up the ante. This is basically a live action, first person shooter…pretty much “Grand Theft Auto”. But here you never see our protagonist’s face except once…usually only his hands. It is non stop but sitting in the third row, the motion sickness of it all has possibility. That said, you couldn’t have made this film a few years ago but, using Go Pro technology, it has become an interactive possibility. The director Ilya Naishuller mentioned at the Q&A that they couldn’t shoot at 48fps because at the standard they needed the extra frames to add in CG. The acting though is interesting because it offers an interesting section of possibility. Sharlto Copley has started to distinctify taking chances on certain genre possibilities with first time directors which can go either way. He was part of the very interesting “Europa Report” and here he plays a mixture of characters that only become clear towards the final third of the film. At times it is a tour de force because it is very fluid and yet specifically on take. Tim Roth is credited in the film but unless he is the villain I can’t see him and, if that is true, his craft is only getting better. He was unbelievable in “Planet OF The Apes”. People talk about Andy Serkis and Serkis is great but he had CG. Roth only had prosthetics. Different processes and both brilliant. In terms of style, the use of some humor and music including a Queen song is placed well well but not to ultimate effect. That is a very small critique because this movie takes aspects of RPGs, “City Of Lost Children”, “Blade Runner” and anime to create a very visceral uninterrupted barrage of precise yet loose genre filmmaking. It took 147 days to film but looks like it took place in 2 hours…and that is the ultimate trick.

office1Office Director Johnnie To tries to find back doors of convention and usually it functions within the crime or action genre. Turning the view on the corporate structure of China per se in an interesting exercise. Now the actual space in the film is not really specified but the characters keep referring to the Mainland China. The actual structure and construct here as the basis is what is interesting. Akin to someone like Peter Greenaway, To does something different in creating a setting that is all an illusion and transparent literally in that function. The arrival to work on a train, the elevators, the offices, the roof…almost all of it is in a transparent, almost architectural baseline construct. Everything should be obvious but like many of To’s films, it is about power and betrayal. What is interesting even more so here is that it is built as a musical but one, despite having some pop sensibilities, that more has the identity of an understated rock opera. What works well is the level of relationships which only becomes clear now by reflection. The first is one of the older couple which is the CEO (played by Chow Yun Fat) and his first in charge (Sylvia Chang) who is also his mistress. The CEO’s wife is in a coma…possibility because of the shame of his infidelity. The betrayal is the game and they understand it. The couple at the end other end of the spectrum is two new brand new recruits in the office looking to make their bones. One is secretly the CEO’s daughter and he wants her to learn. The other is a bright fresh protege who loves his work but eventually loves her more. They don’t have the foresight to see what will entice and ultimately destroy them later in life. The middle couple is the most volatile. So obsessed with work. So obsessed with money. But unable to recognize what is important right in front of them. Not all of these metaphors and characterizations work all the time but it is an interesting experiment not just in acting approach but just in sheer staging. Ultimately it all comes undone in the aspect of Shakespeare. Plus add the fact that he shot it in 3D. “Office” is interesting on all counts but you must be open to the experience and interpret it in your own way.

born-to-dance1Born To Dance Like “Step Up”, each country has the right to see their dance identity in their own way. This film does not take that structure any further but, in many ways, outdoes its predecessors on significantly smaller budget. The basis of the story is a worker who has his own local dance crew but after posting one of his videos on You Tube attracts the attention of a big time money crew with endorsement deals. Normal West Side Story set up without the violence, just stealing of creativity. There are some good dances and, of course, a morality play at stake but that is accepted and expected. However there are some points that the dance scenes just pop and show that adrenalin rush that some of these movies miss. One specifically is staged at this down and dirty club with eight female dancers led by a big boned blond haired African girl that is kinetic. They writhe their bodies but with a power and strength that is undeniable. I could watch a music based dance action movie with them as assassins all day. This is what Tarantino meant when he described Fox Force Force through Uma Thurman’s lips in “Pulp Fiction”. These are the girls he would have had in mind. Ultimately, the film turns in the end into a competition like “Glee’ or “Pitch Perfect”. It is expected but no less commercial. It just was an interesting selection for the festival but even independents want to make crowd pleasing movies. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

girlThe Girl In The Photograph This Midnight Madness selection uses the serial killer basis of a psychopath obsessed with his muse. What it tries to balance itself with is the narcissism of modern life. The metaphor here is the capture or diluting of self. A pretentious celebrated photographer played with annoying relevance by Kal Penn returns to his home town when a serial killer starts matching up his killings to photographs of modelsb that Penn’s character creates. So this photographer returns to his hometown in South Dakota where the killings are happening. He brings along his assistant, his model girlfriend and two other models to this nowhere town to discover creativity again and try to outdo the serial killer with his “vision”. Of course, it kicks them all in the ass and the slasher mayhem begins. It just ultimately feels like an exercise. This is all done for effect and, of course, the local sharp blonde, bushy tailed female lead who is the muse for the killers is the one we are supposed to identify with. The problem is that there lack of consequence and, by extension, sensibility that seems to be lost in the proceedings. The ode to John Carpenter in the music is distinctly noticeable and welcome. Wes Craven was an executive producer on the picture before he died so his touch is definitely on the film as well. But the movie is neither classic horror nor has a truly modern twist. The ending actually ends too late as one scene earlier would have effectively done the possibilities justice without spelling it out. That said, it is a perfectly interesting if not gothically gory approach to the genre but there is nothing really character wise to sustain it.

Toronto International Film Festival again allows your humble narrator a brief interaction of film aside from the general elements of press commitments and scheduling mayhem. But what this small selection of films shows is both the standard and experimental approach inherent n the current marketplace but the key is finding the one that exists in the middle for the greatest success, both creatively and monetarily.

By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [Paramount]

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION

The intention of a Mission Impossible film seems to change with each director but the transformation of movies since 1996 when the first film came out has changed irrevocably. We now have these bloated blockbusters and comic book adaptations just trying to create a universe. Mission Impossible, and to a lesser degree, the Bond films have always been about bowing to the director. This is undeniably the effect of Tom Cruise. Whatever you want to say about the guy personally, his business instincts are usually creative and spot on. Point in fact is “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, the strongest entry storywise by far since the first one directed by Brian DePalma and written by Robert Towne. This is because you have an exceptional writer at the helm directing his own script with Cruise backing him all the way while giving constructive notes. People ask why Cruise is still a movie star. This is why.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATIONThe conceit of this film, much like “Ghost Protocol”, involves the disavowing of the IMF team. What is great here is that from the beginning, Cruise plays against expectations by doing the most massive stunt at the beginning with the take off of a huge cargo plane and getting it out of the way. Cruise hanging off the side of that transport continues to show that he is willing to go the extra mile.

TAURUSThe picture jumps back into story mode but knows where it is going starting from the immediate capture scene soon after. What McQuarrie seems to do, like he did in “Jack Reacher” and likely “Edge Of Tomorrow” is create female characters who are very bit as powerful and smart as Cruise yet still retain a balance. Emily Blunt did it in spades with her character in “Edge” and Rosamund Pike to a lesser degree in “Reacher”. Rebecca Ferguson is a more divisive choice but interesting nonetheless. She is more akin to Tom’s age but also keeps the intent platonic as to not demean her progression. From the beginning she is just as quick and save for a couple swimsuit shots, not over exposed while Cruise is only too happy to take off his shirt when asked for it. The key is that she moves the plot and is not a by product of it. Big points for that and indicative of McQuarrie as a writer having a steady hand. It is too bad that it needs to be mentioned but it is a truism.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATIONOne thing McQuarrie also creates, like DePalma did before him in the series, is stylish and practical set pieces. They might not fall utterly in line but their intent is beyond reproach. The Vienna Opera House sequence has elements of DePalma’s beginning in “Femme Fatale” using the backdrop of classical music to show a double/double cross. Ferguson anchors it having the right balance of poise and classic titillation In a stunning yellow dress you can’t take your eyes off of.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATIONAnother is a hark back to the CIA infiltration scene in M:I 1 but this time going underwater with Cruise holding his breath. Again he supposedly did this for real but the story element makes it work especially with a turn of phrase from Ferguson which leaps into an even more high octane but less original car chase. The progression is interesting again nonetheless because it introduces a flaw in Cruise in his response which makes the sequence more true. Despite the spectacle of running through a sandstorm in the last one, “Rogue Nation” is more controlled and lower budget. It allows for cleaner and more concise film making.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATIONEthan Hunt’s cohorts are back but save for Simon Pegg, they seem to fill gaps through no fault of their own. it is just the way it is built. MCcQuarrie understands the underdog nature of Pegg’s character Benji getting to run with Cruise and makes the best of it giving him both gravitas, wit and humor. The dichotomy of the opening scene with an absolutely excellent climactic scene against a bad guy using a really great progressive device really ups the game in the final moments because it makes it about the psychology and the intellect. It is a very intimate scene with no big explosions and that it what makes it so exceptional. It shows what film making used to be on bigger films.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATIONThe only slight soft spot is the villain. With his frail almost Blofeld approach, he has menace but his tics seem too affected and as a result seems over acted. Granted the rest of the leads including the head of MI6 and especially Cruise and Ferguson are top rate. Alec Baldwin as the new CIA chief had the possibility of getting some of that old Jack Ryan mojo back but he needed to change his delivery. He Is so overtaken with his own persona and posture that he wastes a perfectly good opportunity and seems to be mugging. Again smaller issues in an overall exceptional picture.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” stands with the 1996 original as being one of the best of this series simply because the writing is tight and the direction follows close behind it. Much of this is due to Cruise but also to Christopher McQuarrie’s strengths. Add to this a more malleable Cruise able share the screen and mold his image plus a powerful and plot oriented female lead in Rebecca Ferguson and a multi layered turn by Simon Pegg. Put these all together and you have an effective, smart and worthwhile ride.

A-

By Tim Wassberg