Tag Archive: Jeremy Renner

Tom Cruise is the man. The 53-year-old actor is one of the greatest movie stars working today, willing to put everything that he has into every project to make sure it’s a success. When most actors reach his age, they usually begin choosing less physically demanding projects. But not Cruise; he continues churning out great action film after great action film and he seems especially invested in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Cruise is known for actually doing most of his own death-defying stunts in the franchise and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation might just contain some of his most jaw-dropping stunts yet. This may not be one of the strongest entries in the franchise, but Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie inject the film with enough energy to provide a solid action film and a great time at the movies.

The fifth film in the nearly 20-year-old franchise deals with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) investigating an evil organization known as The Syndicate. When he is attacked and kidnapped by a mysterious man named Lane (Sean Harris), Hunt wakes up to discover that the entire IMF has been disavowed. Hunt is deemed a fugitive and goes into hiding for six months. Eventually, he hatches a plan to prove the existence of the Syndicate and bring back the IMF. But he certainly can’t do it alone, so he enlists the help of former associates Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and a mysterious British agent named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).

The plot of Rogue Nation is an absolute mess. The first Mission: Impossible film was admittedly tough to follow, but part of that almost seemed intentional, as if trying to decipher the plot was part of the fun. Here, the story just feels unnecessarily complicated and a chore to sit through. It’s often difficult to understand some of the character motivations and you’ll occasionally get distracted trying to understand if a particular character is good or evil. It also doesn’t help that two characters (the primary villain and a representative of the British agency) look far too similar to each other. All of this confusion makes everything in between the action sequences a bit frustrating to sit through.

But when the action arrives, it’s absolutely dynamite. Heavily featured in the film’s advertisements, the movie opens with a fantastic sequence that features Tom Cruise hanging on the outside of a massive airplane. It’s a short scene, but it’s absolutely breathtaking in the way that it uses practical stunts and effects. Most actors would insist on using a stunt double for a scene like this, or even resort to CGI, which would have caused the moment to immediately ring false. But Cruise insisted on doing the stunt himself and it absolutely pays off. The shot of him hanging on the side of the plane as it takes off is exciting, beautiful and breathtaking. It might be the craziest stunt that Cruise has ever done and when we eventually look back on his career as a whole, this is sure to be one of the highlights.

And, thankfully, the action doesn’t stop there. We’re also treated to some excellent stealth missions, the first of which takes place in an Austrian opera house. Hunt and Benji work together to enter the building and eliminate bad guys without interrupting the opera. It’s a very well-directed sequence that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Later, the team must infiltrate a high-tech facility to obtain information, while Hunt is required to enter an underwater chamber and hold his breath for upwards of three minutes. It’s another physically demanding scene for Cruise, but he somehow manages to pull it off. Finally, there’s an excellent car and motorcycle chase through Morocco that has to be one of the most exciting sequences that the franchise has produced thus far.

Looking back on the film, the complicated plot makes it difficult to remember exactly why these action sequences occurred, but perhaps a rewatch will allow the film to feel more cohesive. But on a first-time watch, it still manages to have enough humor and excitement to make it all worthwhile. The returning cast remains excellent, even if they are separated from each other for a majority of the film. Rebecca Ferguson is a welcome addition to the franchise and it would be great to see her return for the inevitable sixth mission. Rogue Nation may be a lesser Mission: Impossible film, but it still delivers the goods and it once again proves why this is quite possibly my favorite action franchise. Tom Cruise may be getting older, but he still manages to provide electrifying entertainment for all.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation receives 3/4


ImageDirector David O. Russell brings a sense of undeniable fun to the holiday movie-going season with American Hustle, a film that is (sort-of) based on the FBI ABSCAM case of the 1970s. Viewers looking for a serious, by-the-numbers historical drama should look elsewhere; this film is less about the story and more about Russell and the incredible cast that he has assembled. Despite a few minor hiccups in the narrative, the rest of the film is pure, unadulterated cinematic ecstasy.

Christian Bale stars as Irving Rosenfeld, a suave and intelligent con artist. At a party, he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and the two immediately fall head over heels in love with each other. Rosenfeld eventually tells her how he makes a living and, to his delight, she wants in. Prosser adopts an English accent to convince people that she has Royal banking connections and the two of them work together, taking money from gullible investors. Everything is fine, until they are busted by a group of FBI agents led by Richard DiMasso (Bradley Cooper). But, luckily, DiMasso gives them a deal: he will grant them immunity if they go undercover and help bring down four major cases. The cases eventually lead them to a group of corrupt politicians, led by Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). All seems to be going well, until Rosenfeld’s wife (Jennifer Lawrence) comes in and threatens to spoil the entire operation.

Having rewritten the script that was originally penned by Eric Warren Singer, Russell gives a tongue-in-cheek treatment to what could have otherwise been an overly serious film. His past two films (The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook) were both Oscar nominated, but Hustle is easily his best work thus far. He’s a director, working at the top of his game, who refuses to hold anything back. His constant use of tracking shots gives the film a heightened sense of energy. This is a film that greatly benefits from the time period that it takes place in. Yes, there’s even a disco scene.

But the aspect of this film that is going to really get people talking is the cast. Christian Bale has, yet again, transformed himself to suit his performance. Even with a large gut and a laughably bad comb over, Bale remains quite the charmer and he gives us a reason to sympathize with a scumbag criminal. Amy Adams gives one of her fiercest and most unrestrained performances to date as Sydney Prosser. Prosser is a New Mexico native who fakes an English accent for the majority of the film and Adams is so convincing in the role that viewers will have to remind themselves that her character is not actually from Great Britain. Bradley Cooper is hilarious as estranged FBI agent Richard DiMasso and Jeremy Renner wonderfully portrays Mayor Carmine Polito as a good guy who has simply gotten mixed up in something bigger than he is. Despite all of these great performances, it is ultimately Jennifer Lawrence who ends up stealing the show. As Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Lawrence adopts a fierce east coast accent and completely plays against type. She’s a train wreck of a character who can barely take care of herself, let alone her young son. Lawrence is screamingly funny in the part, chewing up every scene she is given, but never going too far over the top.

The film takes a little while to fully hit its stride and there are a few plot points in the film’s third act that feel overly convenient, but the story is not what is on display here. David O. Russell is asking viewers to take a trip back to the 70s and enjoy the party. The goofy hairstyles and the use of slow motion shots should feel cheesy, but, for some reason, everything works. With a smart sense of humor and a catchy soundtrack of classic 70s tunes, American Hustle is one party that viewers do not want to miss out on.

American Hustle receives 3.5/4