Posts Tagged ‘Christopher McQuarrie’

Short takes: ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’ (2011) and ‘Stargate’

August 8, 2020
Combination image: ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’ (2011) and ‘Stargate’

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 8, 2020

I was never much of a fan of the original Mission: Impossible movie, which came out in 1996 and was based on a TV series that aired from 1966 through 1973. The 2000 follow-up, Mission: Impossible II, struck me as so-so. But the third entry in the franchise, M:I III, directed by J.J. Abrams, was really terrific, as all three further sequels have been.

The most recent outing was 2018’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout, which opens with hero secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) opting to save the life of colleague Luther Stickell (series regular Ving Rhames) at the cost of letting a terrorist organization get its hands on weapons-grade plutonium. Impossible Mission Force director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) dispatches Hunt to recover the material, naturally, but hard-as-nails CIA head Erika Sloane (Angela Bassett) insists that Hunt be accompanied by one of her agents, August Walker (Henry Cavill, once again playing an American).

‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’

The pair plan to intercept and impersonate a ne’er-do-well named John Lark who has made tentative arrangements to purchase the missing radioactive material. Unfortunately for Hunt, the broker, known as the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), will only sell “Lark” the plutonium if he helps her free Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the bad guy from the previous installment, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. Hunt and Walker work up a plan with Stickell and another IMF regular, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), but they find themselves having various run-ins with former British spy Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), another Rogue Nation character, who isn’t willing to see Lane freed.

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Tom Cruise and company stick to a tried-and-true formula in the quick-moving ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’

January 24, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 24, 2018

Author’s note: I interrupt my string of Scrabble tournament recaps for at least one movie review. Don’t worry, I’ll recap this year’s “late-bird” event shortly. As always, thanks for reading! MEM

2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the fifth in the action-adventure series based on the old American TV series, has got all its moves down pat. The Tom Cruise vehicle efficiently delivers plenty of fights, thrills, gadgets and clever plot twists, along with a side of comic banter involving Simon Pegg and other supporting actors.

There’s nothing particularly eye-opening or surprising about Rogue Nation, but it’s fun, undemanding entertainment. The plot briskly transports superspy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and cohorts from London to Vienna to Casablanca and back to London again. There are also brief stops in Havana and Paris and some repeat trips to Washington, D.C., for bureaucratic wrangling between vindictive CIA director Alan Hunlee (Alec Baldwin) and Impossible Mission Force chief William Brandt (Jeremy Renner, reprising his role from the 2011 outing Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol).

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Science fiction time loop, take 1: The uneven ‘All You Need is Kill’ is most notable for having inspired ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

July 4, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 4, 2015

Last summer, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt starred in Edge of Tomorrow. I praised this dynamic military science-fiction movie as a likely classic of its subgenre, a motion picture that might one day be mentioned in the same breath as James Cameron’s seminal Aliens.

Somewhat to my surprise, the movie seemed to sink without a trace. True, it grossed $100 million domestically, but that was only the 33rd-biggest haul of 2014, per the website Box Office Mojo. (Edge fared better worldwide, selling $269 million in tickets overseas; the combined take gave it the 20th-highest worldwide gross of the year.)

Perhaps one reason Edge of Tomorrow fell into obscurity was that Warner Brothers had trouble committing to a title for the picture. It’s an adaptation of Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s short 2004 novel All You Need is Kill, and it was promoted under that title for much of the production process. Several months prior to release, however, the studio opted for the blander moniker Edge of Tomorrow. Then, for some reason — presumably because the film didn’t live up to box-office expectations — the suits rebranded the movie Live Die Repeat for its home-video release.

All of which is largely incidental to how excited I was to stumble upon a copy of Sakurazaka’s volume on a recent expedition to a secondhand book-, DVD- and CD-shop. Naturally, I snapped up the volume, which was the third printing of an Alexander O. Smith translation that originally appeared in the U.S. in 2009. Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed by the book.

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Apocalypse now (and again and again and again): Time loops, action and drama mount in the science fiction/action hybrid ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

June 26, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 26, 2014

Author’s note: This post originally indicated that the novel on which Edge of Tomorrow is based was first published in 2009. However, that was the year that the first English-language edition of the book appeared; in July 2015, I changed the post to show the year of the book’s actual debut, which was 2004. MEM 

Edge of Tomorrow is an action-packed science-fiction movie that could be remembered as a classic of its kind.

The elevator pitch for Edge of Tomorrow is basically Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers, only it’s far better than either of those predecessors. I rather dislike Groundhog Day, but its premise closely tracks Edge’s.

The man at the center of the action is one Maj. William Cage (American superstar Tom Cruise, looking much younger than his 51 years), a public-relations specialist. In the not-too-distant future, Cage is suddenly drafted into what is supposed to be a surprise counterattack against the murderous aliens who have colonized most of Europe. The operation is a complete disaster, but humanity gets a stroke of luck: The bumbling Cage comes face to face with a special variety of one of the aliens and is able to kill it.

In doing so, Cage co-opts the alien’s power to warp time — that is, to reset the day. Every time he dies, he finds himself shunted back to a moment before the operation starts, which gives him a chance to try different tactics in the battle against the alien species, called mimics. (If the movie ever explained why the invaders have that name, I missed it.)

Cage’s efforts to turn the tide of battle seem hopeless at first, but then he gains an ally: the beautiful, charismatic and deadly Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a ruthless soldier whose heroic efforts spearheaded the first successful counterattack against the mimics. She’s uniquely suited to help Cage, not just because of her proficiency at killing but because she previously possessed the time-bending power.

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