Posts Tagged ‘simon pegg’

Mission Impossible Rogue.Nation

After seeing a colleague shot to death, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is convinced that an organization called the Syndicate, made up of rogue agents from around the world, is responsible for a number of tragic events around the world.  CIA Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) is not convinced that the Syndicate even exists, he thinsk that their existence might be a figment of Ethan’s imagination to keep the IMF alive and funded.  Hunley goes before Congress asking the IMF to be defunded and the money and resources to be transferred to the CIA. Hunley  asks William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to tell him about Ethan’s whereabouts, but Brant denies any knowledge of what Ethan is up to.  Ethan is in Austria trying to prevent the assassination of the Austrian Prime Minster.  Ethan has taken along Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) for logistical support.  He runs into not one, but three assassins trying to kill the Prime Minster, including Ilsa Faust,(Rebecca Ferguson) a pretty assassin with a deadly shot.  Ironically, Ilsa has saved Ethan’s life before they meet in Vienna, is she there to kill Ethan Hunt or save him?  Does Ethan prove the existence of the Syndicate or is the IMF finally disbanded?

Was I expecting originality from the fifth installment of this film?  Not really, but it borrows heavily from the Bourne series with the whole rogue agent plotline.  Frankly, that plotline has been far too overused since it was used to perfection in the Bourne movies.  This movie, on the other hand seems to be going through the motions, car chases, explosions, dangerous stunts that don’t look all that dangerous, villains that can’t kill one good guy even though they are all paid assassins. The good guys don’t even get hurt, one example Cruise flips his car over five times in one sequence and emerges without a scratch.  The car chases aren’t that spectacular, the best car chases is still from Bullitt with Steve McQueen. The stunts in Rogue Nation weren’t eye popping, it’s nice to see a woman do some butt-kicking instead of the usual damsel in distress routine, but that’s the only bright spot.  The movie is entirely too long, and when the moviegoer thinks it’s over, it starts up all over again.  It’s exhausting.  They’re taken a good franchise and squeezed the life out of it.  There will probably be another one. But at least I didn’t see Fantastic 4.

The acting is just ok, not great not bad.  Tom Cruise does what he always does.  When there is a dramatic scene he raises his voice, and his speaking pattern becomes staccato, and he emphasizes certain syllables, and there’s always the glare, to tell the audience he’s serious.  He had success with Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow, and so he’s paired with another Brit, Rebecca Ferguson, but there’s hardly any chemistry with her, they don’t even kiss. Cruise looks tired, and old, but he produced the movie, so he is the star, and so we see a lot of the AARP cover boy acting like a 20 something.  Ferguson does a good job with her role, both the action and the speaking part, but because they rotate the female leads in these movies, she probably won’t be back.  Jeremy Renner plays a paper pushing bureaucrat, and that’s a severe under-utilization of his skills. Ving Rhames is a glorified driver, the writers could have definitely beefed up his role.  Simon Pegg was just comedy relief, and Alec Baldwin was good, in a ham-handed way, in a small role.

The direction was standard for an action flick, the audience sees one chase from the point of view of the rider, there is an airplane stunt that was not spectacular, and an underwater stunt that was average.  The pacing suffers when the movie slows down for exposition, and the director gets fair performances from all the actors.

Mission Impossible:  Becoming more like Mission Predictable.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist who’s sick of his day to day life and sick of his overbearing girlfriend Clara. (Rosemund Pike)  Hector feels like he needs a little adventure in his life, so one day with very little notice, he takes  off and goes to China, where he meets a young Chinese student ,Ying Li, (Ming Zhao) who isn’t what she appears to be.  Hector also stays with monks at a Chinese monastery.

Still searching for that elusive happiness, Hector jets off to Africa to help his friend Michael (Barry Atsma) who runs a clinic there.  Hector takes a taxi and is kidnapped by a gang headed by a man named Marcel  (Anthony Oseyemi)  Hector is only saved because he helped a drug dealer named Diego Baresco. (Jean Reno)

Undaunted by the kidnapping attempt Hector goes to California to meet up with an old flame named Agnes. (Toni Collette) Hector is also there to help a professor, Professor Coreman, (Christopher Plummer) with a psychiatric experiment.  Does he finally find happiness in Los Angeles?

I like Simon Pegg, but I did not like this movie.  The scenes in China are contrived, everything is paid for by a rich businessman, and he lives like a king.  He meets a beautiful woman and they sleep together, but the woman turns out to work in Hollywood’s favorite profession and then abruptly the Chinese storyline is dropped with no resolution, the Chinese woman is little more than eye candy The African story is insulting and condescending, passengers on the plane are holding chickens, drug dealers and kidnappers populate this place and the only doctors in sight are Hector and his friend Michael.  The ending is sentimental drivel, and really is out of step with the tone of  rest of the movie. Once in a while, there is supposed to be a life affirming message, like Happiness is being loved for who you are.  That is not life-affirming, that’s something you find in a 5 cent fortune cookie. Pegg  did not write this movie, that much is obvious, it’s too trite for his writing style. The only affecting scene is with Hector on a plane to L.A. with a woman, hardly worth sitting through two hours, but sill well done.

Pegg the actor tries to play a nice white collar type, but it doesn’t work for him, he comes off as the ugly American or the ugly Westerner as the case may be, romping through the Third World, trying to find himself.  He is much more effective playing a blue collar drinking buddy type. Rosamund Pike better stop playing domineering shrews, like she does here and in Gone Girl, she is going to get typecast.  Toni Collette does a pretty convincing American accent for an Australian, and Christopher Plummer does some inconsequential scenes at the end of the movie.

The direction is nothing of note, although this director did Serendipity, one of my favorite romantic comedies.  Watch that, instead of this mid-life crisis of a movie.

Hector and The Search For Happiness.  Hector hectors and gets hectored in this forgettable journey.

the-worlds-end

Gary King (Thomas Law, Simon Pegg) had four best friends in high school.  Andy (Zachary Bailess, Nick Frost) Oliver (Nick Bromley, Martin Freeman) Peter (James Tarpley,  Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Jasper Levine, Paddy Considine)  The high point of Gary’s high school life seems to have  been the pub crawl he and his pals started but never completed.  Now, pushing 40, and fresh out of an AA meeting, Gary wants to do another pub crawl with his four best friends again, and he wants to finish this time.  Trouble is his friends have grown up, moved out of their hometown, of Newton Haven, and gotten responsible jobs.  Peter’s a car dealer, working for his dad. Steven’s a foreman at a construction site.  Oliver is a real estate agent, complete with Bluetooth device, and Andy is a corporate lawyer.  None of them wants to see Gary or do the pub crawl, known as the Golden Mile, but Gary manipulates and cajoles them into showing up.

On the way to the Golden Mile, Gary gets pulled over by a cop, and gives him Peter’s name. Andy has been sober for 16 years and drinks water at the first pub. They meet Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) at the second pub, she has a thing for Steven, but Gary propositions her in the ladies room, and gets slapped.  Gary’s banned from the third pub, but drinks a pint outside. In the fourth pub, something happens to Gary that changes the whole mission of the evening.  What happens to Gary?  Do Gary and his friends finish the Golden Mile?

I will admit it, Simon Pegg makes me laugh, hysterically. It all started with Shaun of The Dead.  Hot Fuzz was funny, but not as funny as Shaun. Run, Fatboy Run was funnier than Hot Fuzz, but not as funny as Shaun.  The World’s End is as funny as Sean of the Dead, with more clearly thought out themes  It is similar to Sean of the Dead, the threat is existential, and much of the action takes place in the small towns and pubs of England.  The themes reflect the importance of friendship, the importance of non-conformity, even the standardization of the look of pubs. It is much better than the often disjointed This is The End starring Seth Rogan, and James Franco.

Simon Pegg is hilarious once again, as the AA dropout, whose only goal in life is to have fun, preferably by the pint. Pegg’s character shows more depth than in other movies.  He’s the friend who wants to bring all his friends back together, despite the fact that no one wants to see him.  All his friends want to get together, but they’re too busy trying to fit in to meet up.  Pegg plays the non-conformist perfectly, he;s got nothing to lose, so why should he try to fit the usual mold? Pegg has lots of help, Martin Freeman of Sherlock and Hobbit fame is really funny as Oliver, the most conformist of all of Pegg’s  friends.  Nick Frost was in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of The Dead, so they have camaraderie already, again funny as Andy, the guy who wants to see Pegg the least.  Paddy Considine also in Hot Fuzz, was good as Pegg’s friend and romantic rival. Eddie Marsan is also funny as Peter, Pegg’s mild mannered pal.  Rosamund Pike does a nice comedic turn as Pegg’s romantic interest.  A really good ensemble cast, with really good chemistry.

The writing by Pegg and Eric Wright is very funny.  Wright co-wrote Hot Fuzz, Shaun  of The Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Well two out of three isn’t bad.   If there’s one thing I didn’t like it was the length, two hours is too long for a comedy, but all two hours are filled with jokes, so the length isn’t too taxing.

The World’s End.  Raises the bar on comedy.

 

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is in a Moscow jail.  He is broken out of jail by his IMF compatriots, Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg) Once out of jail, Ethan is on the trail of a terrorist named Cobalt.  Ethan identifies Cobalt as Hendricks, (Michaell Nyquist) a Russian nuclear strategist who wants to initiate a nuclear war.  Before Ethan, Jane and Benji can get to Hendricks, he sets off an explosion that blows up the Kremlin, and frames Ethan.  The IMF secretary (Tom Wilkenson) meets Ethan, introduces him to a new analyst named Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and gives Ethan his next mission, before being gunned down by the Russians.

Hendricks kidnaps Leonid Lisenker  (Ivan Shevedoff, and Hendricks, and his henchman named Wistrom (Samuli Edelman) and Lisenker jet off to Dubai, to buy nuclear launch codes  from Sabine Moreau,(Lea Seadoux) a female assassin, who wants diamonds in exchange for the codes.  Ethan, Jane, Benji and Brandt follow Hendricks to Dubai to stop the transaction, despite Jane killing Sabiine, Hendricks and Wistrom escape to India to find a satellite, where they can enter the codes and launch a nuclear weapon.  Ethan, Jane, Benji and Brandt are in hot pursuit, in India. where Jane has to try to seduce an Indian playboy named Brij Nath, (Anil Kapoor) to gain control of the satellite.  Does what’s left of the IMF gain control of the Indian satellite before Hendricks can set off a nuclear war?

This is a disappointing movie.  The story is too long, with too many plots and subplots, the usual rogues gallery of villains, the Russians, (despite the cold War being over for 20 years) international terrorists and only a small band of Americans to stop nuclear annihilation. The Indian subplot is totally unnecessary to the plot, and I suspect it was added to boost international revenue.  The action came in fits and starts, interspersed with long and boring story and back-story that really didn’t matter.  The rule in action movies is keep the plot simple.  But this one is too complicated. The ending just would not have happened given today’s arsenal of anti-missile missiles.  The stunts just aren’t that spectacular, even the much ballyhooed stunt on the world’s tallest building in Dubai just left me bored.

Tom Cruise is an ok actor, as long as you know this, when he’s grimacing he’s serious, when he’s smiling he’s joking, and both expressions are the same. Paula Patton is really good as the action vixen who can kick butt and take names, but then she is reduced to the conventional female seductress role and that is really sad. Simon Pegg was funny throughout and was welcome comic relief in a movie that tended to take itself much too seriously.  Jeremy Renner’s character was much less intense and gritty than the one he played in “Hurt Locker” it was not a great feeling watching Renner play second fiddle to Cruise, but Cruise was the “star” and the producer here, so I guess he controlled the script as well. Anil Kapoor was another victim of bad writing.  His playboy character was perhaps the most poorly written character I’ve seen in a while, especially coming on the heels of his great performance as a smarmy game show host in Slumdog Millionaire.

Mission Impossible 4.  Does the impossible, makes me dislike a Mission Impossible film.