M:I 6 MIA!

Exposing the ever-shifting true loyalties of characters A, B, C and D without ever spending a second to develop any sense of said characters does not “plot shifts” make.  That’s even more true when a movie otherwise contains no real story.

So Mission: Impossible – Fallout must be considered a pure action picture (no duh).  And on that level it is partially successful.  The problem is the half-hearted attempt at plot only gets in the way of the action.  If this movie is stripped down to the action sequences, an hour could be shaved off and the movie could really fly along.  Because another problem is that the “plot” not only slows down the whole movie, it detracts from the action sequences.

Case in point: early in the film, Cruise & partner parachute onto the roof of the Grand Palais in Paris.  Why?  Because it’s a cool parachute scene.  There is no explanation of how parachuting was easier than just driving in, or if time was an issue, arriving via helicopter.  My mind goes to The Walk.  Oh my god The Walk — such a terrific film, made so much better by comparison to something like MI6.  Now there’s some true vertigo.

Another problem is the action sequences themselves are flawed with a lot of unnecessary silliness, like pipes that are bolted down as part of a restroom’s plumbing being ripped from the wall like matchsticks.  Maybe watch Saw and tell me how easily pipes are ripped from the wall.  I understand you are being asked to suspend disbelief, or better yet not notice these things in the first place, but once I suspend disbelief on items 1-12 in the first 30 minutes of a movie, it’s hard to maintain belief with anything else.  And if I’ve got no belief, then the impossible mission for me is to give a rat’s ass what happens to any of these characters.

Given all that, I admit I wasn’t completely bored out of my mind.  The big helicopter (see, they do have them when they want) scene at the end was fun, as were some of the less-flawed action sequences.  Also, the title sequences were good.  I give credit to Tom Cruise for all the stunt work, but I wish he’d start doing interesting projects again.  4/10

Comparison Notes: other than The Walk, I got nothin’.  Doesn’t seem to be any point.


Film Brief: Thor: Ragnarok

The 2017 Thor movie gets a marginal thumbs-up laden with the normal caveats.  Definitely some fun moments and charged performances, especially from Cate Blanchett, who was utterly charming last time out on Ellen.  Second half of that appearance below, along with her “Kneel.” clip.  6/10

Film Brief: Wonder Woman

Credit Apple TV marketing for finally pushing me to see the biggest movie of the year.

What I do is not up to you.

There are nice bits of Wonder Woman that absolutely soar.  But…

* * *

Perhaps my biggest problem with superhero movies is they all end exactly the same.  Wonder Woman is no different, which is too bad — because otherwise I found myself having a good time.  I didn’t even mind the beginning non-titles (see posts on Les Miz, Selma, and the upcoming one for Logan Lucky.)

Two trailers included below. This movie is growing on me, but for now my original evaluation: 6/10

Film Brief: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes features lots of great visual sequences, and a sense the filmmaker knows what he’s doing — which is refreshing.  A generally well-executed story, if a not particularly original one.  (SPOILER:) See Comparison Notes to understand why not particularly original.

War is inferior to the last episode of the franchise, but it’s still good.  Note: despite being billed as “the end,” it won’t be.  A fourth film is in the works.  7/10

Comparison Notes (recommended): Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Logan’s Run, Run, Run

Pursuit – run-in, pursuit – run-in, pursuit – really big run-in, end of movie.  This basic, worn out, unengaging and paper-thin plot structure is the bane of many superhero and “action” films, and to some degree explains the disparity between the Tomatometer and my score on a movie like Logan.  Almost makes you wonder if all these other critics are so dim as to not recognize the formula, or somehow think it novel.

I liked the feisty girl, and the performances in general were OK.  I’m a bit of Hugh Jackman fan — from Les Miz at least.  Add in a little fun to get 4/10.

Comparison Notes: the much better Mad Max film from a couple years back

Film Brief: Deepwater Horizon

Like Everest, Deepwater Horizon fails at the most most crucial point.  But at least Everest was an engaging picture.  I still don’t know what or how the explosion(s) occurred, and I don’t want to reverse-figure out the movie on Wikipedia.  A good documentary on the subject would have been infinitely better — so I guess I’ll wait for that on PBS.  I did like the parts that weren’t just a bunch of banging, and John Malkovich was perfection.  4/10

Comparison Notes (recommended): Captain Phillips, Sully, Gravity, Everest