Top Gun: Maverick and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
It’s true that I’m getting to this one pretty late, but it’s also true that the darn thing is still the biggest movie at the moment so I guess I can still call this review somewhat relevant. I guess it’s no surprise that one of the most enduring classics of the eighties finally getting the sequel everyone always wanted would hit like a meteor full of money, but it’s still pretty surprising just how much this has eclipsed everything else around it. Even MCU movies which are supposedly so ubiquitous that we should all be sick of them don’t manage to have the kind of staying power that this movie has! So what is the secret formula that turned this into a license to print money? Is it actually as good as its box office would suggest, or has nostalgia once again suckered us all into giving money to a movie that was better off being remembered than revived? Let’s find out!!
Captain Pete Mitchell, better known as Maverick (Tom Cruise), has been bumming around the Navy since the glory days of Eddie Money and Leisure suits, and it’s landed him a gig as a test pilot for experimental aircraft. Of course, Maverick being Maverick, he manages to screw that up by ticking off Admiral Ed Harris and is only saved from a dishonorable discharge by his old friend Admiral Tom Kazansky who was once known as Iceman (Val Kilmer). Instead, he gets sent to teach the next generation of hot shot pilots which just so happens to include Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose who died while flying with Maverick back in the first movie. His assignment, should he choose to accept it, is to get these Millennials in tip-top fighting shape for a ridiculously complicated and ludicrously dangerous bombing run to destroy a uranium enrichment facility, and there’s no one better than Maverick for making the impossible merely improbable! Can Maverick finally put his ego in check and be the teacher that these pilots need? What happened between him and Bradley that left him feeling so bitter, and is this Maverick’s last chance to make things right? Was waiting nearly forty years to make a sequel just a flex on Tom Cruise’s part to show how little he’s aged since then?
Mission: Impossible – Fallout and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Is it just me, or does it feel like a REALLY long time since the last one? I don’t remember much about Rogue Nation except that I didn’t particularly like it (mostly due to how much I DID like Ghost Protocol), but that’s all in the past! It’s time for Ethan Hun to go on a NEW mission and prove once again that Tom Cruise is a box office draw! Well… most of the time at least (*cough* The Mummy *cough*), but hey! At least they brought Superman in for this adventure! This movie by the way is the reason Henry Cavill couldn’t shave his facial hair for the Justice League reshoots which led to the weird CG face issues, so if nothing else this movie deserves SOME credit for making that movie that much more hilarious! Does this franchise manage to keep the momentum going for one more outing, or is the impossible mission now to keep audiences interest for yet entry? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) receiving a mission that, should he choose to accept it, could save the entire world for at least the sixth time but that the US government would obviously disavow if he got caught or murdered. You know, you’d think that there might be some underlying geopolitical issues that could use some resolving if the US Government had to constantly send this dude on impossible missions that they couldn’t POSSIBLY claim to be a party to, but I guess a stable foreign policy doesn’t make for a particularly interesting spy film. Anyway, it turns out that Solomon Lane (Same Harris) from the LAST movie had a whole bunch of followers known as THE APOSTLES who are wreaking hell all over the world and even created an outbreak of Smallpox in Kashmir seemingly for shits and giggles. Their biggest plan yet is to get their hands on stolen Plutonium so they can make nuclear bombs, and while Ethan gets REALLY close to recovering them he ends up dropping the ball when his teammates Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) almost get caught in the crossfire. Determined to fix his mistakes, he’s assigned to go after a black market merchant known as THE WHITE WIDOW (Vanessa Kirby) who can broker a deal between the Apostles and a world famous terrorist that Ethan will pretend to be for the Plutonium. Get Solomon Lane out of jail, and he gets the Plutonium. Complicating matters are the Director of the CIA Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) and her right hand man August (Henry Cavill) who don’t trust Ethan not to screw this up again, and even Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s back in the picture but is once again not easily classified as a friend or foe in this situation. Will Ethan be able to get the Plutonium back before the Apostles blow the heck out of city and start World War III? Can Ethan just hand over such a dangerous terrorist in order to stop nuclear war, or could Solomon be planning something even worse? Just how many ridiculous stunts can they convince Tom Cruise to do by telling him how youthful it makes him look!?
American Made and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Doug Liman
Hollywood? We need to talk. I know that you love to make movies about people (usually white dudes) who catch a lucky break or have one useful skill that pays off which launches them into fame, fortune, and eventual ruin, but I think it’s time to stop. Look, Wolf of Wall Street was wonderful and so was that Nicolas Cage movie from 2005, but these are starting to get stale and repetitive; especially with this film that looks so paint by numbers and generic that even Tom Cruise can barely seem to bring anything to the material. Still, bad trailers and a tired premise don’t ALWAYS spell doom for a movie, and Tom Cruise can really be THAT good in a movie so as to keep it engaging even if everything else is working against it. Does this film manage to avoid the pitfalls that so many films before it have fallen into, or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel to find just ONE more interesting story about a dude who found an odd way to strike it rich? Let’s find out!!
The movie is supposedly based on the real life story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who was your run of the mill airline pilot who was making some extra cash by smuggling in Cuban Cigars. His actions don’t go unnoticed by the mysterious Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is a CIA agent looking to make his mark and believes he has found it in this pilot that he easily convinces to quit his job and start working for the US Government. His patriotic duty turns out to be driving a plane with a camera on it so he can take pictures of Central American communist freedom fighters that the US has an interest in repressing and these pictures prove to be invaluable to that cause. Eventually he gets bigger missions such as delivering intel to Manuel Noriega, running guns to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua, and even running cocaine for the cartel which isn’t QUITE what the CIA had in mind but they certainly aren’t gonna stop him from doing it. Of course, with the CIA apparently doing all this on the down low, Barry not only starts catching the ire of other government organizations like the FBI and DEA, but also runs the risk of losing his sweetheart deals with the Cartel which is led up by Pablo Escobar (Maunicio Mejia). Throw in some family drama with his wife (Sarah Wright) who is kept in the dark for a lot of this and his brother in law (Caleb Landry Jones) who’s a total fuck up that knows too much and you’re looking at a powder keg ready to explode right in Barry’s handsome face! Will Barry find a way to keep the balancing act going indefinitely? How far will the US Government under Reagan go to get what it wants and what will that eventually mean for Barry? Wait, is this what the Top Gun sequel will be about!?
So if you read my review of the movie, you’ll know that I consider this one of the rare films that you can legitimately classify as So Bad It’s Good, but what does that even mean? First of all, it’s one of the hardest things for any filmmaker to do as these kinds of movies live on a precarious balance of context that informs whether the flaws in place are enjoyable or not. For example, The Room is one of the gold standards when it comes to this kind of movie due to the inexplicable nature of… well, EVERYTHING in the film. HOWEVER, that context only works when you’re under the assumption that Tommy Wiseau had no understanding of what he was doing which, if you watch the movie again, isn’t really the case. I don’t know the guy personally, but if you take another look at the movie from the perspective of a misogynist, what with the story being about a man scorned by an inexplicably evil woman who’s ruined his life to the point of him committing suicide (the movie even makes a point of putting ALL blame for the affair on Johnny’s girlfriend while framing Mark as sympathetic)… yeah, it kind of loses a lot of its charm; throwing off that perfect balance between being awful and being delightfully so about it. Now on the other side of the coin, is it possible for this kind of balance to be reverse engineered? Eh… I wouldn’t say it’s IMPOSSIBLE but other than MAYBE Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I’m hard pressed to think of one that didn’t happen NATURALLY. It’s lightening in a bottle plain and simple, and while there’s the rare filmmaker out there who can wrangle it themselves (I truly believe Werner Herzog to be a deity among mere mortals), we’ve gotten enough failed attempts from the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Quinten Tarantino (though Grindhouse is still a pretty high bar for intentional attempts at bad movies) to realize that trying to force this kind of movie isn’t something worth attempting and why it’s so great whenever we get another one to enjoy. Now to celebrate this movie being added to the pantheon of Horribly Watchable Films, I’m gonna give you the top ten WTF moments in this utter disaster that’s landed in theaters! Needless to say that I will be spoiling EVERYTHING about the movie so be wary if you want to experience it yourself.
10) Necronomicon Ex Mortis – A random reference to the Brenden Fraser film
When Tom Cruise’s character Nick is brought to Prodigium for the first time, there are a few quick references to other monster movies such as Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as one reference to the 1999 Mummy film. The big MacGuffin of that one was the Book of the Dead that ended up reviving Imhotep after Evelyn opens it up and reads from it, and in THIS movie the book is at Prodigum and gets a nice long close up before being forgotten about completely. Fair enough I guess as it serves its purpose of being a cute little call back, but doesn’t it seem like kind of a waste? I mean, I don’t remember EVERYTHING that it did in that first movie, but surely they could have at least cracked it open to see if there’s a BANISH EVIL MUMMY LADY spell or something; ESPECIALLY considering they don’t really have a plan to stop her in the first place! I don’t know, maybe they lost that weird key thing or something!
The Mummy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
For every good idea out there, we’ll inevitably get a bucket load of copy cats and knock offs to try and cash in on what made the original incarnation so successful. True, Universal Monster movies were in SOME way connected (mostly because they were all done by the same people) and they eventually did a few versus movies that are fondly remembered, but those weren’t the films they were looking at when they decided to move ahead with their Dark Universe. Marvel’s got it in the bag, DC’s been fumbling like crazy, and it’s still a bit too early to tell if the Kaiju Universe is gonna pay off. Now with Universal’s attempt to do the same for its catalog of legendary monsters hitting theaters, will it manage to pull off what Marvel’s imitators have failed to do thus far, or is Universal just not equipped to take the crown back Disney and Captain America? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a prologue letting us know that the titular mummy this time around is NOT Imhotep as it was in the other Universal Mummy movies but is instead a new character named Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boultella) who sold her soul to Set (wasn’t that the dude Gerard Butler played n Gods of Egypt?) in order to wrest control of the throne from her father and her baby brother. Oh, and I guess she also wanted to release Set into this world by… cutting someone open while having sex with them? I don’t know, but either way she’s captured soon after her murder spree and is mummified alive before being dropped off in some tomb. Cut to modern day and we meet Nick and Chris (Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson) who are two fun loving soldiers who are ALSO grave robbers and stumble upon the lost tomb of Princess Ahmanet which they explore along with an archeologist… I think, called Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis). Needless to say that the mummy resurrects, she starts hunting people down, and our heroes have to find a way to stop her. Oh right! But before we can get through that story, we ALSO have to get Prodigium involved! What is Prodigium? It’s basically S.H.I.E.L.D. for monsters and it’s head up by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). They don’t DO much, but the movie wants you to be VERY aware that these people are around and might just be fighting other monsters in the future! Anyway, the Mummy plans to take over the world by finding a MacGuffin (a special knife) and cutting open Tom Cruise who is her NEW Chosen One so that she can release Set upon the world! Will Tom Cruise manage to save the day once again by running really fast at things? Is Universal satisfied with the amount of world building that was shoved into this thing? CAN WE PLEASE GET BRENDAN FRASER BACK!? I know that last mummy movie wasn’t very good, but still!
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Edward Zwick
Everyone liked the first movie, right? It had depth, a decent mystery to solve, some solid action scenes, and Tom Cruise was charming as all hell! Sure, he was the embodiment of the masculine ideal which comes with a certain amount of baggage (just ask James Bond) , but that film brought a lot to the table where so many others would just coast on its star power and wouldn’t even worry about telling a decent story. Now it’s time for them to pump out a sequel, and of course they couldn’t get the same writer/director to return this time (instead he’s just a producer) leaving it up to the director of The Last Samurai and Tom Cruise’s raw charisma to pick up the slack. Can they catch lightening in a bottle twice for this franchise, or are we domed to exponentially worse films until Tom Cruise gets tired of this series? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) heading toward Washington DC to meet up with a friend of his who’s his only real connection to his past life in the military, but when he arrives he finds out that Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been arrested for her e-mails or something (ha ha). Of course, Jack Reacher finds out pretty much immediately that this is all a setup but gets arrested by the military for killing Turner’s lawyer which he obviously didn’t do. I don’t know why the bad guys felt it necessary to do this, especially because he’s getting processed at the Military Prison at the same time the bad guys are sending hired goons to kill Major Turner in this co-ed prison. Jack Reacher kicks everyone’s ass, the two of them escape, and now they have to find out who it is that set the both of them up. Of course, it’s not quite that easy. You see, it turns out that in ALL this time that Jack’s been contacting Major Turner over the phone, she failed to mention that he’s had a paternity suit pending for the last fifteen years which means he might have a kid out there who probably hates his guts right now. The kid in question is Samantha Dayton (Danik Yarosh) and sure enough the bad guys know about her and start targeting her to get to Jack which means he has to drag her along until this mystery is solved. Can Jack and Turner figure out who’s responsible for their incarceration and what they’re so desperate to cover up? Is Jack really the father of this surly teenager who’s not in the mood to deal with any of this bullshit? Seriously, there’s like twenty of these Jack Reacher books. Was this the best story they could get out of them!?
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Trying to make a good Mission Impossible movie WITHOUT Brad Bird? Sounds like a job for the IMF to me! After the success of the fourth installment in the Mission Impossible series (Ghost Protocol), Tom Cruise and company are going to try their luck at making this into a noteworthy franchise once again. This time around though, they don’t have Brad Bird on hand but they DO have the director of Jack Reacher which was a fun little Tom Cruise power fantasy so this new guy might just be a good fit for one of this series which is known for being a collection of Tom Cruise vanity projects. While I have not seen the first three movies, I thought that Ghost Protocol was incredibly enjoyable and Tom Cruise has been on an upswing lately with movies like Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow, so there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to recapture what made the last movie work despite the absence of its director. Will they succeed once again in their mission to make something worthwhile out of this aging franchise, or will this blow up in their face (in five seconds)? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about super spy Ethan Hunt played by Tom Cruise who HAS to be a real life Highlander considering how good he still looks in his fifties.