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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Symour Hoffman’

(This is a long post, so if you’re not interested in my movie reviews, you may want to just come back tomorrow…)
This last week I decided to do a mini-binge / marathon on the movie series based on a television series from my youth: Mission Impossible.  In all honesty, I watched several seasons of the series but lost interest due to the similarity of so many of the episodes.  In fairness to the series, how many times (and ways) can you save the world?  Anyway, I do remember enjoying the TV series.
Also, in complete honesty, because I have only recently come around to being a Tom Cruise fan, I have never seen any of these five (so far) movies at the theater in original release.  Further, I had only seen parts of number one on TV.  It’s not that I intentionally avoided them.  I just don’t think I ever bothered enough to sit down and watch them.  My brother owns the DVD set, so I thought, what the heck: binge time.
Mission: Impossible (1996)  —  movie review
Wow! Is it possible this movie is 20 years old and I’ve never seen it?  Sho’nuff.  This movie introduces Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) – the only two characters to carry through all five movies in the series.  Hunt is the leader and Mr. Everything.  Stickell is the computer and electronics expert.  There is one carry-over from the original series: Jim Phelps (played by Jon Voight).  Basically, Hunt is framed for treason and the list of IMF agents around the world is up for grabs.  Hunt has to lead a hastily organized team of disavowed agents to recover the list and find the real traitor.
This was probably pretty good for its day and it does have one famous scene: Cruise hanging from a wire, stealing a computer file, in the CIA headquarters.  Other than that, I found it pedestrian.  Not bad.  Just not very good either.  All in all, an acceptable kick-off to the series.  Final recommendation: Moderate.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)  —  movie review
In the first of several implausible stories, Hunt (Cruise) leads the IMF team in a mission to stop an Australian pharmaceutical industrialist who hopes to become filthy rich by releasing a virus which will kill most of humanity while his company is the only one with the cure.  (Huh!?)  The worst of it is the use of an “anti-Hunt” / bad-guy former IMFer who wants to steal the company so he can get rich, too.
Not only is the story unbelievable, so are the action sequences and the fight scenes.  I guess the good news is that there are a fair number of both, so you can be visually entertained.  The movie is not unwatchable and it’s not really boring.  It’s just kind of “meh”.  Final recommendation: poor to moderate.
Mission: Impossible III (2006)  —  movie review
Hunt is semi-retired.  He is an instructor and mentor for junior IMF field agents.  One of his most promising protégés gets captured and Hunt is recruited back into the field to rescue her.  She dies in the attempt and Hunt assembles a team for revenge – I mean justice.  Blah, blah, blah, evil arms dealer who gets it in the end.  And, there’s another mole in the IMF HQ.  Seriously, is anybody guarding the hen-house?
As a movie, this is pretty much another ho-hum’er.  As an action / adventure movie with special effects, this sequel is better than 1 and 2.  Strangely, at this point I’ve started warming to the whole Hunt / Cruise and IMF thing.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s some kind of Stockholm Syndrome thing going on.  In any case, Philip Symour Hoffman plays a surprisingly excellent villain!  I have never been a Hoffman fan and really only ever liked him in one role – a minor character, a grad student in the movie “Twister“.  I don’t really avoid movies with actors, but I doubt I’d go out of my way to see any movie with him in it.  I still don’t get why he was considered a “great” actor.  In fairness to Hoffman, I have never seen “Capote“, but I did see “Doubt“.  I just didn’t find him believable in that film / role.  So, yes, I was surprised at how good Hoffman is in this role.
This episode also sees the introduction of the character Benji Dunn, played by Commander Montgomery Scott, I mean Simon Pegg.  Add humor here…
Final recommendation: The movie is again only so-so, but Hoffman is terrific and makes the movie!  Strong recommendation.
Mission: Impossible (4 / IV) – Ghost Protocol (2011)  —  movie review
Okay, so the United States education system is not big on Roman numerals, so we’re gonna drop the “IV” and give this movie a title.
In another entirely implausible story (IAEIS), Hunt (Cruise) leads the IMF team in a mission to stop a Russian scientist who hopes to improve humanity by blowing up San Francisco with a nuclear missile which will lead to WW III and which will kill most of humanity.  (Huh!?) By now, Benji / Commander Scott / Pegg is a certified field agent.  IMF is framed for blowing up the Kremlin and the President “disavows” the whole of the IMF to avoid war with Russia.  This episode introduces William Brandt (Hawkeye / Bourne “Lite” / Jeremy Renner) as a quasi-Hunt “Lite”.
At a certain point in this series – just like with the TV series – the audience has to say, “I don’t care if any of this makes sense, as long as I’m entertained.”  I thought I’d reached that point in the MI:II, but MI:III kind of brought me back to this kind of makes sense and I am kind of entertained.  And then they drop you off the cliff again…  Makes sense, no.  Entertained, yes.
Final recommendation: Strong to Highly.  To be honest I think this is based on the cumulative effect of watching 9+ hours of this stuff.  It has started to grow on me and I am enjoying them more, even though most of the time it’s the same thing over and over again.
Mission: Impossible (5 / V) – Rogue Nation (2015)  —  movie review
IAEIS, Hunt (Cruise) must lead an (again) disavowed / defunded / disbanded IMF to fight a British sponsored “rogue” IMF force known as the “Syndicate”.  Blah, blah, blah, exotic locations, explosions, motorcycle and car chases, fight sequences, innocent casualties, hero drowns, hero comes back to life, blah, blah, blah.  Hunt / IMF wins and gets the bad guy.  The moral of the story is friendship and doing the right thing is more important than following the orders or the law (I guess).  Oh, yeah, and again, never trust the guys back at HQ.
Final recommendation: Strong.  I’m not sure why, but again, I was entertained by this movie.  No, it’s not believable and almost everything has been done before in 1 thru 4, but worked.  Go figure…
Series final recommendation: Strong.  This is a series twenty years (so far) in the making.  As technology has improved, they’ve tried to keep pace.  Mostly, it (the movies individually and the series as a whole) works – the special effects, the “spy” technology and the movies.  I’m also finding the series interesting because they are aging the lead character (Hunt) instead of simply re-booting the series with a new team.  All in all, I rate the series as higher than the individual pieces and the last two as better than the first three.
Two final notes:  like many of the movies in the action / adventure genre, this series has definitely made an effort to “span the globe” in an attempt to attract the global audience.  This series goes a bit too far (IMHO), but who am I to say as they are making a ton of dosh in the foreign markets.  And I apologize to any readers who slogged through this LONG post.  I hope you found the reviews moderately interesting / entertaining.
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On This Day In:
2015 Happy 4th of July 2015!!
2014 Happy 4th of July 2014!!
2013 Patriot Act, Anyone?
2012 Five Lost Wars
2011 Worth Fighting For
2010 Still Learnin’ Hard…
4th of July 2010

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