To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky visuals with exaggerated action. It's certainly nothing like the involving classic monster movies they're trying to reignite, such as the 1932 Boris Karloff classic The Mummy. But this movie has more in common with Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher blockbusters, with added swimming zombies.
Cruise plays Nick, an American army officer and mercenary who with his cohort Vail (Jake Johnson) has just located a long-lost burial site deep in Daesh-controlled Iraq. Somehow, the hot archaeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) arrives immediately to stop him from plundering this tomb. It turns out that the sarcophagus contains the remains of ancient Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was mummified alive for making a pact with the evil god Set and then murdering her father and brother. Now transported to London, she returns to life with a vengeance, casting a spell on Nick to help reassemble Set's dagger and finish her nefarious plan. So Jenny turns to her deeply unstable boss Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) for help.
There's rather a lot of mythology building going on here, setting things up for the further adventures of Jekyll's secret society, which is trying to deal with ancient evil like a mash-up of Men in Black and Night at the Museum. Without the humour. There are some throwaway gags here and there, but director Alex Kurtzman stages everything with a gloomy sense of foreboding that simply never gains traction. The thin plot seems constructed merely to connect a series of enormous action set-pieces, which are all very well choreographed but never remotely exciting. It doesn't help that everything on-screen has been extravagantly over-designed, with cavernous sets that have been made deliberately dark and sooty. But this leaves the entire movie feeling artificial, random mayhem in fake places.
Continue reading: The Mummy Review
If you read our story on Tom Cruise working with Simon Pegg on 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation', you'll know that the Hollywood star did his own stunts for the film including the seriously dangerous driving - and he was shocked at how much Pegg trusted him.
Looking at this clip - featuring the duo in said car chase - Pegg's acting talent is incredible; either that or he didn't quite trust his co-star as much as Cruise thought and was genuinely scared the whole time. We sure would be.
The latest instalment of the spy franchise, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, is out in theatres now.
Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation is likely to top the box office this weekend
At age 53, Tom Cruise shows no signs of slowing down, still doing his own stunts in the latest instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, which he has also been producing since the first film in 1996.
This summer's Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is written and directed by Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked with Cruise on Valkyrie, Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow. He brings a more grounded touch to the series, including stunts that feel almost frighteningly realistic.
Continue reading: Mission: Impossible 5 Pushes Tom Cruise To New Heights
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with a constant stream of barbed humour, the film has an enjoyably knotted mystery plot and action set-pieces that feel like they're grounded in the real world. It's a terrific shift into earthy believability for a series of movies that has previously indulged in gleefully incoherent narratives and exaggerated explosive chaos.
Right from the start, our hero Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is an outsider. As he searches for a shady assassin (Sean Harris) and his mythical organisation The Syndicate, Ethan's Impossible Mission Force is being dissolved by the US government. CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) absorbs the IMF team, but tech genius Benji (Simon Pegg) secretly helps Ethan, enlisting Luther (Ving Rhames) and William (Jeremy Renner) as well. Soon, all three are gallivanting from Vienna to Morocco and back to London, as Ethan works with double or perhaps triple agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) to prove that The Syndicate exists and stop its nefarious plan.
The film plays out like an edgy James Bond adventure, as Ethan works with a possibly dangerous woman in exotic locations in pursuit of some very shadowy baddies. McQuarrie's script is unusually lucid for this genre, piecing together the various elements expertly, building a genuine sense of tension without ever letting things tip over into overblown silliness. The chase sequences are remarkably rough and unpredictable, avoiding digital trickery to create moments that are jaw-droppingly authentic. As usual, we can tell that Cruise does his own stunts; the opening hanging-from-an-airplane scene is awesome, and a helmet-free motorbike chase looks even more perilous. With the IMF disbanded, it's never quite clear how Ethan funds his one-man operation, but he has a terrific supply of cool gadgets stashed all over Europe.
Continue reading: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Review
The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) have been active for years, but it's time has run out. The head of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) informs them that they are to be disbanded, but some people can't actually adjust to that sort of thing. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) can't let go, and soon discovers that the IMF is actually needed more than ever. The Syndicate - a Rouge Nation - has been steadily growing over the years, and is seen as an anti-IMF. Now, Hunt and his team must engage in their most impossible mission to date, and fight an enemy which, officially, does not exist.
Despite their countless missions, most of which deemed impossible, the IMF is closing down. Considered an irrelevant and archaic group, the government intends to tie off any loose ends - especially Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). The problem is, Hunt is a veteran, and a tremendous agent of the IMF, and has uncovered a terrifying secret rouge nation, known as The Syndicate. Hunt plans to track down, expose and destroy The Syndicate through any means necessary. To that end, he recruits his old friends and colleges from the IMF, and plans to take the fight to them. Even if the mission is impossible.
Continue: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation Trailer
A smarter-than-expected script turns this noisy sci-fi action movie into something remarkably entertaining. A-list stars, solid actors and whizzy effects aside, the dialogue is packed with clever observations that are both mind-bending and unexpectedly hilarious. And director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) lets his cast have a lot of fun with it.
In the near future when aliens called Mimics have rampaged across Europe, Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military media spokesman suddenly sent into the front-lines from London, battling the fearsome creatures on the beaches of Normandy. He's killed fairly quickly, but wakes up that same morning and is again sent through battlefield prep with harsh Sgt Farell (Bill Paxton) and a rag-tag team. Again and again. Eventually he breaks out of the pattern and discovers another soldier, Rita (Emily Blunt), who seems to understand why he is living this day over and over only to die each time. So he uses the repetition to figure out what's really going on, and he and Rita plot a way to stop the aliens for good.
Yes, the premise is a direct riff on Groundhog Day, as Cage makes the most of each day, learning something new that will get him further the next. And the film's script knowingly plays with the set-up, offering witty comments and some genuinely suspenseful set-pieces along the way, all sharply edited into a relatively coherent narrative, although the ending will generate a lot of post-screening debate. Liman packs the film with kinetic, intense action sequences that are rendered with strikingly realistic effects that occasionally have some extra fun with the 3D.
Continue reading: Edge Of Tomorrow Review
Brad Pitt's World War Z surprised everyone by pulling in over $60 million in North America alone during its opening weekend.
Brad Pitt and Marc Forster's World War Z is undoubtedly a success given the state the movie was in some 6 months ago. Working on a huge budget, the zombie apocalypse movie was shaping up to be one of the biggest flops in cinematic history with murmurings of re-shoots, changed endings and discontent leaking from the set on a weekly basis.
According to a report in the New York Magazine's Vulture section, relations between Pitt and Forster became so fraught that the pair stopped speaking to each other altogether. Things apparently got so bad that when Forster had notes on a scene for Pitt, they had to be relayed through an intermediary.
Brad Pitt At The World War Z Premiere in New York
Continue reading: Does 'World War Z' Have A Hidden Pro-North Korean Message?
We may sigh heavily at the thought of yet another fairy tale blockbuster, but the filmmakers and cast here demand a bit more attention. And sure enough, it's refreshingly smarter and funnier than we expect. There are still the problems of unnecessary 3D and far too many digital characters, but the restless pace and the witty performances make it a lot of fun to watch.
It's Jack and the Beanstalk with added action mayhem, as orphaned farmboy Jack (Hoult) sells his horse for a bag of supposedly magic beans. When one inadvertently gets wet, a massive beanstalk manages to propel Princess Isabelle (Tomlinson) into the realm of the giants, reawakening a legend that had died off centuries ago. So the King (McShane) enlists Jack to join a rescue team of guards (including McGregor, Marsan and Bremner) and Isabelle's intended, the shifty Roderick (Tucci). Up above the clouds, they encounter two-headed giant Fallon (Nighy) and his nasty horde. But rescuing Isabelle is only the first problem they face.
The freewheeling plot zips along without pausing for breath, encompassing massive set pieces and more gritty battles as well as small moments of drama and romance. Meanwhile, Jack and Isabelle cast lusty glances at each other, even when they're in physical peril. Director Singer brings out the energy of the characters to keep us involved, playing on the vertiginous angles of the settings while playfully deploying fairy tale imagery in the sets, costumes and landscapes. it's understandably why he decided to digitally create the giants rather than have actors play them, but this leaves a hole where the monsters should be. Aside from Nighy's more obviously performance-captured face, all of them look like dead-eyed cartoons, which essentially turns the film into a medieval Transformers movie.
Continue reading: Jack The Giant Slayer Review
Tom Cruise may be oddly miscast in this big action movie, but he certainly knows how to make one of these preposterous films connect with an audience. And writer-director McQuarrie adds a driving sense of internal logic that keeps it consistently enjoyable. So even if the hero in Lee Child's series of novels is a 6-foot-5 blond-haired, blue-eyed muscle-man, the cast and crew get away withThe story takes place in Pittsburgh, where a multiple shooting leads Detective Emerson (Oyelowo) and DA Rodin (Jenkins) to a withdrawn gun nut (Sikora). It seems like an open-and-shut case until man of mystery Jack Reache (Cruise) turns up. An off-the-grid ex-Army agent, Jack offers to help defence attorney Helen (Pike) prove her client's innocence. Of course, he instantly solves the case, uncovering a conspiracy and putting himself and Helen in danger from a ruthless Russian (Herzog) and his henchman (Courtenay). Meanwhile, Jack befriends a gun-range owner (Duvall) who has a connection to the case.
There's clearly an attempt here to echo Bourne-style questioning of identity and morality through Jack's hazy history and super-spy methodology. And the plot is also packed with far-fetched details and silly connections (Helen is Rodin's daughter), although McQuarrie does his best to keep things plausible and intelligent enough to hold our attention. There's also a sense of the bigger issue in Jack's life, that he can't cope with the grey-scale relativity in society and prefers right-or-wrong battlefield morality. He also hates modern-day connectivity, refusing to carry a mobile phone. But then he doesn't travel with a vehicle, weapon or change of clothing either; he prefers to "borrow" everything as needed.
Despite being nearly a foot shorter than the literary Jack, Cruise inhabits the role nicely, offering a slightly scrapper, more shadowy version of his Mission: Impossible character. But he's just as sexless, never putting much oomph into his flirtation with the always terrific Pike. On the other hand, he generously lets his costars steal every scene. Duvall is hilariously offhanded, while Herzog adds his own mad genius into his role as a, well, mad genius. And Oyelowo more than holds his own opposite these veteran hams. So even if the film never tries to be anything more than a ripping, mindless thriller, the stylish filmmaking and cool characters make it an enjoyable waste of time.
Continue reading: Jack Reacher Review
To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...
The hero from Lee Child's series of novels is back - well, the Tom Cruise...
If you read our story on Tom Cruise working with Simon Pegg on 'Mission: Impossible...
Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise. Along with...
The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) have been active for years, but it's time has run...
Despite their countless missions, most of which deemed impossible, the IMF is closing down. Considered...
A smarter-than-expected script turns this noisy sci-fi action movie into something remarkably entertaining. A-list stars,...
We may sigh heavily at the thought of yet another fairy tale blockbuster, but the...
Tom Cruise may be oddly miscast in this big action movie, but he certainly knows...
Jack Reacher is a former military police officer who with the ability to make himself...
Opening on a terrified-looking man in a hospital bed, we are immediately informed that Jack...
This is a thoroughly offbeat concoction from the gifted filmmaker behind the acclaimed The Lives...
Because nothing says "Happy birthday, baby Jesus" like Nazis plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler, United...