Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner Dir: Brad Bird
Tom Cruise is not exactly flavour of the month these days. It’s hard not to think of him as just a weird Scientologist. And the Mission Impossible films have a mixed track record. But here’s one thing about all of them: they’re fun.
You don’t have to pretend you’re watching anything profound but you know going in that at least you’ll get a plot of some sort with a couple of twists, a little verbal humour and some spectacular “mission” sequences. And that’s all here, present and correct. Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) proves just the right man for the job and turns in an unpretentious over-the-top thrill ride.
It is, of course, totally outlandishly unbelievable. Who cares? At least it doesn’t feature vampires, werewolves, ancient Greeks sword-fighting, or a teenage hero. Or a love interest. What it does have is someone blowing up the Kremlin and Tom Cruise abseiling down the world’s tallest building. And Simon Pegg providing comedy relief.
Perhaps on another day I would have hated this film from beginning to end, but it struck me at the right time. There’s nothing wrong with accepting the silliness and just going along for the ride. At least you’re in the hands of people who know what their doing.
As has become apparent to anyone with even a passing relationship with the blogosphere, fanboys the world over are not happy with George Lucas. The charges are amply detailed in The People Vs George Lucas a fun doco that explores the strange parallel dimension inhabited by Star Wars fans and their love-hate relationship with the man who keeps messing with their childhood memories. Eloquently investigating matters of great import – the “special editions”, the nonsense that is The Phantom Menace, Jar-Jar Binks farting, and the Greedo shooting first debacle – this film will free your inner Star Wars geek. If that’s what you want.
Red Nights is a rather sick minimalist French/Chinese co-production set in a stylish though surprisingly deserted Hong Kong. It does have something of a thriller plot, with French woman Catherine on the run with a mysterious artefact that everyone seems to want. Principle amongst her pursuers is a mysterious Chinese woman who brings with her a righteous helping of kinky sadomasochistic sex and torture. The former is (briefly) erotic, the latter extremely unpleasant. It’s not much of a film really, so dull and unconvincing in places that one assumes it exists only to showcase the couple of torture scenes.
Opening in Algeria in 1927 as a family are thrown off their ancestral land to make way for French colonialist, Outside The Law tracks the subsequent lives of three brothers, each of which take very different courses. We meet them again after the World War 2 liberation of Paris as an Algerian march for independence is brutally suppressed, and then follow them through the ‘50s. One brother is in the French army in Indochina (Vietnam), one is a pimp in Paris and one is in jail before rising to be the head of the resistance. It’s a film not without flaws. Some dialogue is stilted and some characters not well drawn. But it does have considerable power and adds to the growing number of French films now confronting that country’s shameful past in Algeria.
With the vampire craze still limping along, it’s no real surprise that this 2008 film about the “original” female vampire, Hungary’s Countess Bathory, has been released. Bathory starring Anna Freil, is a little deceptive about its vampiric content as it is, in fact, an historical epic of war and political machinations set in the 16th century. Despite a lashing of period design and some impressive battle scenes this is a strange disjointed affair, prone to unintelligible dream sequences and dogged by inconsistent (or non-existent) characterisations. To be fair, a weird sorceress eventually appears and lots of maids die. But there are no vampires.