Mission Impossible (1996)
With: Tom Cruise, Jon Voigt, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Beart
all the so-so adaptations of TV series that have been thrown in our faces like a bunch of hot towels (Charlie’s Angels,
Starsky and Hutch, Bewitched, Dukes of Hazzard, Lost in Space) it’s the Mission Impossible ones which are the best.
Not too surprising as the first film is directed by Brian De Palma (yes, the guy who did Scarface and Carrie) and stars The
Cruiser himself (yes, the guy who keeps breaking our nuts with Scientology these days). The latter also produced the film
with Paula Wagner. Cruise is Ethan Hunt, the main man of an undercover team led by Jon Voigt. After most of his partners are
murdered during a mission gone wrong (including Voigt), he is left to find out the truth on his own. All the things that made
the series so cool are there: the “this message will auto-destruct in 5 seconds” gizmo, the ridiculously perfect
masks and even the match-lights-a-stick-of-dynamite bit in the energetic opening titles. De Palma’s directing is as
slick as ever and the action sequences are very thrilling. The suspense of the famous break-in scene mounts and mounts until
it becomes almost unbearable. The story is quite rich and demands quite a bit of attention, and even though it can be a little
predictable at times, this doesn’t make the film less enjoyable one bit. The film could be criticised for allowing Cruise
to hog the camera too much though. Ethan Hunt is the main character, fair enough, but what made the series so interesting
is the fact that there was a team who worked together on a tough (or should I say, impossible?) mission. Oh well, the film
works perfectly anyway and fans of the series were no doubt pleased with the film version. Overall, Mission Impossible is
one of the best thrillers of the last 10 years and is gripping and entertaining from start to finish.
One Hour Photo (2002)
With: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan
Robin Williams is Sy Parrish, a lonely photo technician at a Savmart supermarket. He’s very professional
and is good at his job: he’s been developing the Yorkin family’s photos for years and, over time, has become increasingly
obsessed by them. For him, the Yorkins are the perfect family and he longs for the warmth of a family such as this one so
much that he has kept every single one of their photos and stuck them on his living room wall. Sy, at first, seems like a
harmless, if troubled, fellow but when he realises that the Yorkins are not as perfect as he thought, it’s devastating
for him and his whole world, his whole perception of this family he loved, comes crumbling down. After he is fired and discovers
a dark lie in the family, Sy’s actions become more disturbing, day dreaming and collecting pictures become things of
the past and stalking, meddling and violence take over. When buffoons try to go serious, the critics and audiences always
seem to get sceptical and sometimes they don’t even give these comedians a chance to prove themselves as dramatic actors.
With this excellent performance as Sy Parrish, Robin Williams impressed pretty much everyone. As we all know, Williams often
plays loveable, harmless, even childish characters (Toys, Jack, Jumanji) but playing a disturbed, potentially dangerous character
is something new for him, especially when you know his ebullient, joke-a-second personality. To be honest, this is probably
his finest performance, he is genuinely creepy as “photo guy” Sy Parrish. As for the film, it looks terrific and
the direction is remarkable. Granted it’s only a little thriller but it’s certainly a perfectly executed and thoroughly
original one. It’s also well written and the supporting cast is good too, you don’t forget One Hour Photo easily.
Overall, a tense, chilling thriller with an impressive performance by Robin Williams. Highly recommended. Say cheese!
With: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith
Michael Mann's Collateral stars Tom Cruise
as a heartless hitman and Jamie Foxx as a friendly and professional cab driver. Both actors play against-type and do it brilliantly.
Mann's direction is flawless and His Cruiseness is as good as ever and convincing as the bad guy (only the 2nd bad guy
role of his carreer). He has a lot of witty lines to have fun with: "I shot him, the bullets and the fall killed him". This
is a tense, griiping and stylish thriller that's fascinating and fun. Unfortunately, the film weakens towards the end but,
while the cab is driving, it's a smooth Cruise (sorry) all the way!
Sin City (2005)
With: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Madsen,
Brittany Murphy, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Rutger Hauer
Is 2005 the year of the comic-book? It sure seems that way. Earlier this year we’ve had the cool, dark Constantine
and Batman Begins and the Fantastic Four are still on their way. But I doubt that any comic-book-to-film adaptation that will
come our way during the rest of the year will be as good as film noir Sin City. The film is directed
by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn) and Frank Miller (who created the comic-book). As an adaptation, it’s
simply perfect: it’s as faithful as you can get to the source material. Much like Tarantino’s (a guest-director)
Pulp Fiction, Sin City tells 3 main stories. First is Bruce Willis’ cop Hartigan’s story. When a powerful politician’s
son (a psychotic paedophile) kidnaps 11 year-old girl Nancy, Hartigan hunts him down, makes him pay and saves the girl. But
he is framed and thrown in jail for 8 years after refusing to give up Nancy’s identity. The 2nd story follows
Mickey Rourke’s tough Marv, who wakes up one morning to find the girl he had spent the night with, Goldie, murdered.
He vows to get revenge, find the sonova…who did this and make him pay. But the person in question is a silent cannibal
played by an incredibly creepy Elijah Wood. The final story sees Dwight (Clive Owen) help out his sexy friend Gail and the
prostitutes of Old Town, who unwittingly killed a dirty cop (played brilliantly by Benicio Del Toro), fight against the gangsters
who run the show. The finishing product is an amazing film that’s not only thoroughly compelling and entertaining till
the end but also visually groin-grabbingly good. Every shot is carefully constructed and it’s all very stylishly done,
Robert Rodriguez has never shown such…coolness. The performances are all good, but Rourke, Del Toro and Wood are the
ones who really stand out the most: they simply steal the show. Overall, what can I say? It’s got everything! (for guys
anyway): babes, guns, cars, blood, fights, one-liners, a disturbing yellow dude…It is the coolest film of the year so
far, definitely. Missing that movie would be a real sin.
Overall: ***** /5
Batman Begins (2005)
With: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Ken
Watanabe, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Rutger Hauer, Tom Wilkinson
Tim Burton adapted the Batman DC comic-book hero to the big screen, he did an amazing job. Then, with Batman Returns, he did
an even better job and created what, for me, is to date the best comic-book-to-film adaptation (Sin City a close second).
Unfortunately, the great franchise went downhill from the moment Burton refused to do another Batman flick. Batman Forever
was fun and entertaining but a big step down from its predecessors. And I don’t wish to mention the debacle that followed.
The latter buried Batman and its franchise. Now, 5 years later, Christopher Nolan (Memento) replaces Joel Schumacher (thank
God) in the director’s chair and brings us a prequel, the beginnings of the Bat. No Robin there, no rubber nipples,
no glow-in-the-dark Bat-sign and no Govnor of Califoarniah. Batman Begins is darker, grittier, cleverer and just plain 10
times better than its 2 predecessors. We follow a troubled and lost Bruce Wayne as he tries to control his anger and his fear
after both his parents were murdered right in front of him. He goes to Asia and learns to fight and control his fear, then
comes back to Gotham City and becomes: Batman. The first half of the film is a fascinating psychological look at the man behind
the Bat, we finally explore Bruce Wayne’s real motivations for dressing up as a flying rodent every night. Unlike the
3 previous Bat-films, Begins isn’t about the villains, it’s actually about Batman! Yay! That’s not to say
there aren’t any villains though. Oh no. Rha’s Al Ghul is a mysterious character with a deeply flawed moral who
is the leader of a sinister ninja clan with dangerous intentions. Also, we have Falcone, a powerful crime lord of Gotham City
(a great Tom Wilkinson) and, of course, the Scarecrow. The latter steals the show mostly because he is just so bloody scary!
A really cool Bat-villain played surprisingly well by a creepy Cillian Murphy. Too bad he is a little sidelined. A whole range
of great old actors provide terrific support and Christian Bale is arguably the best Batman yet (I mean, he actually looks
like Batman, doesn’t he?) even though Keaton did a brilliant job. Holmes, the love interest, is quite good as well.
Nolan, not usually an action director, does well here and has managed to bring the Bat from the dead. Batman returned once,
now he returns again, and what a return! Bat-fans will be thrilled. Unmissable.
Overall: ****1/2 /5