Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (movie review)

Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation_posterEvery time I hear the tune of Mission: Impossible at the start of the movie, I can’t help but feel ecstatic because I know that I’ll be having a great time watching it.

I remember the time when I watched Mission: Impossible 4 that I left out of the theater wanting for more. I was amped from the start until its middle part but the suspense kind of plateaued towards the end. But that didn’t happen here in Rogue Nation, a.k.a. Mission: Impossible 5. The craving I had before was definitely satisfied with this latest M:I movie.

It’s definitely a great time watching the stunts of Tom Cruise along with his costars. Though looking back, it seemed like it was only him and his female partner in the movie, Rebecca Ferguson, who had really carried out explosive action scenes. Simon Pegg’s comic skills were put into good use all throughout the movie but Jeremy Renner and Vhing Rames were not as they only seemed to do what any other actor could do. I’m really not complaining, though, because Tom Cruise is the star of the movie and his action scenes were still a sight to behold.

I’ve pondered about three things after watching this movie. One, Tom Cruise at his 50 plus years of age, can still pull off awesome action that actors of his age can only dream of. I wonder until when can he do these kinds of things but until then, I’m eager to see him keep the race going even with competition from relatively younger action stars. Two, the Mission: Impossible franchise is far from over. As long as Tom Cruise is in it, millions of people including myself will be driven to watch it in the movie theaters. Three, an action movie that’s grounded with solid story-telling, moved by remarkably fast but effective pacing and highlighted by amazing death-defying scenes is a sure-fire winner. And that’s what Rogue Nation is.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

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The Avengers

The Avengers was without doubt the best Marvel movie to date! Joss Whedon, its director and writer, was a real genius! The great story of the world’s mightiest heroes was excellently presented with a smart and witty screenplay, awesome visual and aural effects, credible acting, flawless editing and brilliant directing. Watching the film from start to finish was definitely an awesome experience!

Combining stand-alone characters is a pretty hard task to do. But because of Joss Whedon, the characters consisting of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Nick Fury were pitted into one incredible story that is devoid of any major loopholes created by other superhero movies. Whedon has seamlessly created a world where these characters existed much like what’s seen in the comics. And if you think you know what’s going to happen next after every scene, think again. The movie is full of surprises that may make you feel positively overwhelmed.

I loved the visual effects sci-fi/ fantasy/ action/ adventure films of the past decade had shown the movie audiences. But what’s seen in The Avengers is a whole lot better than most of those movies (best example: The Transformers) because they were not made just to tell the world how good their visual artists or animators were with their creations. Simply put, the amazing visuals seen in the movie were not just for showing off.

I liked how the actors played their characters. Robert Downey, Jr. was brilliant as the humorous self-described genius/ playboy/ philanthropist Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Chris Evans was consistent in his role as the good-natured and serious leader of the Avengers. Chris Hemsworth was believable as the powerful demi-god of thunder Thor. Scarlett Johansson was good as the alluring and fierce spy called Black Widow. Samuel L. Jackson proved that he deserved to be casted as Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tom Fiddleton was still irritating as the main villain, Loki, because he’s that effective in that antagonistic role. Jeremy Renner, meanwhile, was okay as Hawkeye. I had doubts with the casting of Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner aka the Incredible Hulk because I was really hoping for Edward Norton to reprise the role. But my doubts were dispelled as Ruffalo has uncannily embodied the brilliant doctor slash green monster.

As what I have always believed, the story and the screenplay are the two main keys of making a great movie. Without good writing, a movie could hardly be considered worth-watching. Acting or visual effects alone cannot save a badly written movie. Thanks to The Avengers’ foster of exceptional writers (led by its writer/ director Whedon), the movie came out with a great story that is not forced whatsoever just to be linked to the previous movies featuring some of the characters in The Avengers. Moreover, the screenplay was not just fine, it was seriously fun!

The most brilliant aspect of the movie for me, though, is the excellent directing done by Whedon. He was able to re-create a world known only before to a few comic readers or some Marvel fans in a better fashion. Who would have thought juggernaut characters such as Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk could be joined together in one live action film? It was done before with the original X-Men movie (with its completely different set of amazing characters), yes, but what sets this apart from that Bryan Singer-directed movie was its faithful character adaptation, complete with correct costumes and superpowers. Whedon was able to stitch in different aspects of the Marvel characters without compromising the movie’s quality. I guess would-be directors of superhero films have a lot to learn from this guy.

If you want a movie that is really worth the time for fun, action and adventure, The Avengers is the movie for you. I bet you’ll surely not regret watching this movie.

***

THE AVENGERS movie score by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy is the # 1 movie in the Philippines and the United States today. This isn’t a wonder since it proved to be a good continuation of the Bourne story that many people loved.

The movie had the feel of uncertainty and confusion at the start. The scenes here flash one after another, showing various locations with different characters. However, once you get to connect what you’ve known from the first Bourne movies to what it being shown, you’re going to give it your full attention. That is, if you don’t want to get lost in the story. The movie’s going to work up your mind at the first hour when the characters did a lot of discussing about what is happening. It eventually goes from mind working to eye catching after that, as scene after scene of octane action would be blaring up on the screen.

The movie was one large mesh of interconnecting storylines because there were a lot of flashbacks in between the scenes that show the present storyline. This may get one confused at times, but it ultimately made the themes of the original Bourne movies more.

Super soldiers. Intelligence units. Black operations. Media expose. Collateral damage. These were just some of the themes presented by the movie. Harnessing super soldiers to enhance chances of winning in battles was the main get go. The CIA surely does it to prevent anti-terrorist acts. However, because of the impending threat of exposure because of the program’s questionable means and ways, the kind of patriotism the agency was showing suddenly becomes the face of terror. Doing collateral damage by killing everyone involved to shut down their exposed programs is plain and simply evil. The clout of justice is not proven here, as one does not rightfully decide the fate of others just to save their own faces.

Jeremy Renner turned out to be a great replacement for the super soldier hero role that Matt Damon left behind. He certainly made his character, Aaron Cross, as someone you would root for to win and achieve. Rachel Weisz was fine as the doctor-in-distress who tried to help Aaron Cross. And even though the two didn’t have scenes that would suggest romance in its strict sense, they sure had a good chemistry. The character of Edward Norton was a letdown for me as he was mainly seen inside the CIA commanding and giving orders. He has certainly beefed up his role with the kind of acting that he made, but I surely want to see him do other things aside from the ones given him here.

If you’ve already watched the movie, I guess you would agree with me that the scenes filmed in Manila were simply unbelievable. The directing and the editing sure had a hand for the success of those action scenes, but one has got to wonder how they were able to pull off very difficult stunts with use of vehicles here and there. I also liked the night scenes of Manila because the city’s more beautiful at night than at day.

The Bourne Legacy was far from perfect. Even though it succeeded with the stellar cast, great action and a good continuation of the Bourne story, it somehow lacked cohesiveness. Not to mention the abrupt ending, which definitely disappointed a lot in the audience. Nevertheless, the movie just had the right combination of action and suspense to be a credible Bourne film. It may not be better than the original Bourne trilogy but what it has shown is enough to jumpstart the franchise.

***

THE BOURNE LEGACY movie score by the pondering movie fan: 3.5 out of 5