Ranking Mission Impossible films on its 25th Anniversary

MI franchise

Boy, don’t I feel old!! Can’t believe the Mission Impossible FILM franchise is now 25 years old. The first film opened on May 22, 1996. I remember watching the TV series, created by Bruce Geller, quite regularly and they were a lot of fun. The TV series is more on an ensemble cast, with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) as the one receiving the classified recording telling him of his team’s mission, which then self destructs.

Now, I thought the first MI movie felt decidedly much darker, and this time instead of an ensemble, we’ve got the protagonist Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who always receives the message that he then relays to the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team. Even the poster above only features his famous profile, and he remains the top draw of the entire franchise. The series features more and more daring stunts, given Cruise is such an adrenaline junkie, but fortunately, since Christopher McQuarrie came on board after they had a good working relationship in Jack Reacher, the movies have improved as well.

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Now, having seen the latter 3 films fairly recently, I thought I’d rank the six films in the order of WORST (least favorite) to BEST:

6. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II (2000)

Directed by: John Woo

IMF agent Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney to find and destroy a genetically modified disease called “Chimera”.

I barely remember much about this movie as I haven’t rewatched it since seeing it the first time. I think the opening with Cruise hanging off a rock was pretty cool, but Dougray Scott made for a lame villain as disavowed I.M.F. Agent. He just isn’t menacing and comes across melodramatic and whiny. Poor Thandie Newton also comes across as nothing more than a damsel in distress.

5. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996)

Directed by: Brian De Palma

An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization.

I actually quite like this one despite being oh-so-serious. For one, I like Kristin Scott Thomas in an action movie and the setting in Old Town Prague is really atmospheric. It’s also got some top-notch actors, i.e. Jon Voigt and Vanessa Redgrave. I have to say that the multiple double-crossing plots questioning Ethan’s loyalty proves to be too convoluted that it takes the fun out of it. But at least some of the action scenes are memorable, especially the server room scene that’s iconic and full of suspense. The final chase scene involving a chopper, bullet train inside a tunnel is beyond ridiculous but of course so exhilarating to watch.

4. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III (2006)

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

IMF agent Ethan Hunt comes into conflict with a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer who threatens his life and his fiancée in response.

Still sad that Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone. He’s an intriguing choice as a villain and he’s believably sadistic. I think I’m just not too crazy about the love story between Ethan and Julia (Michelle Monaghan), though later in the franchise, they figured out a nice closure for the two. It’s still very much an Ethan-centric story that talented people like Keri Russell and Billy Crudup are pretty much wasted here.

3. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Ghost Protocol (2011) – full review

Directed by: Brad Bird

The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

This is the one with the Burj Khalifa and perhaps one of my all time favorite action scenes (not just in a Mission Impossible movies!). It’s also the first time Brandt (Jeremy Renner) is introduced and he’s been an interesting character to follow. I also feel like the tone is decidedly lighter here and feature more of an ensemble piece with Simon Pegg + Paula Patton (who brings such sexy vibe to the team), though I miss Ving Rhames in this one. Despite having a so-so villain (Michael Nyqvist), this one plays like a popcorn Summer blockbuster despite being released during the holiday season. 

2. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Rogue Nation (2015) – full review

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan and his team take on their most impossible mission yet when they have to eradicate an international rogue organization as highly skilled as they are and committed to destroying the IMF.

Thank you McQuarrie for making an already watchable franchise and truly make it great. Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is perhaps my favorite casting pick in the entire franchise, she is absolutely dynamite–smart,sexy, no-nonsense–I think she’s Ethan’s equal in the spy game as she’s a former MI6 agent. Ferguson also gives Cruise a run for his money in the charm department, which is why the Vienna Opera House scene stands as one of my favorite action sequences in the MI movies. I quite like seeing Alec Baldwin as a CIA operative, but I can’t say I’m too fond of Sean Harris as the villain, mainly because of his gravely voice. Still, there are more good than bad that I still rate this movie pretty highly.

1. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – Fallout (2018) – full review

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

I was thrilled to see McQuarrie back directing an MI movie AND to have Rebecca Ferguson back, yay! Pretty much the regular MIF team are back, with Angela Bassett + Henry Cavill added as CIA agents, and Vanessa Kirby as a mysterious woman called the White Widow. Cavill proves to be a pretty darn good addition and I actually enjoy him SO much more than in his role as Superman (aside from Man of Steel). LOVE the sequence in Paris night club, plus it’s got a fantastically-bombastic finally involving in yet another chopper chase. Having rewatched this several times, I definitely would rate Fallout as the best Mission: Impossible film to date. It’s full of humor, great tensions and spectacular actions sequences that you can’t wait to see what crazy Cruise will tackle next!


So, are you a fan of this franchise? How would YOU rank the six MI movies so far?

FlixChatter Review – Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

The Mission: Impossible film franchise is one of the few that somehow got better and better after its third sequel struggle to make a dent at the box office. Not only did the later sequels were financially successful, they’re also critically darlings. Looking at Rottentomatoes.com, Mission: Impossible 4-6 received mid to high 90% rating.

After a mission gone wrong and three nuclear missile heads are in the hands of a new group of terrorists known as The Apostles, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his teammates Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) must retrieve the weapons. When Hunt was getting an intel briefing from his boss Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), as to where he can find the nuclear weapons, they’re both got interrupted by a new CIA director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett). Sloan is upset that the IMF team lost the nuclear heads and insists that her agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) must go with Ethan to retrieve them.

First on their task is to capture and impersonate a man named John Lark (Liang Yang) and meet with a mysterious woman named White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), in Paris who has the connection to the Apostles. But when Hunt and Walker met with White Widow, she insisted that they must break out an international terrorist and Hunt’s nemesis Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) from prison or they won’t get the nuclear weapons. Of course this complicates the mission but both Hunt and Walker went along and helped Lane escaped. Along the way, Hunt ran into an old friend Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). She’s also has her own mission and that is to eliminate Lane for good. Well, things never go as planned and Hunt must use all of his skills to try to save the world from chaos and also save those who he cares about.

For the first time in franchise history, the same director and writer Christopher McQuarrie of the previous film has returned and take charge of this new mission. To my surprise, McQuarrie has exceeded what he created in the last picture. He crafted a complexed storyline that’s full of twists, drama, humor and big action sequences. By hiring new crew members, notably a new cinematographer and composer, he was able to differentiate this film from the last one. It’s clearly that he used Nolan’s The Dark Knight as his inspiration for this outing. The film even contains a big chase that’s very similar to a chase sequence from The Dark Knight. A big bathroom brawl, a spectacular motorcycle and car chase through the streets of Paris and a helicopter chase are the highlights of the set pieces.

Cinematographer Rob Hardy is having a good year. He shot the excellent Annihilation for Alex Garland earlier this year and again for this film, he did a tremendous job. This film contains so many wide shots in the series since Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. This is good because we the audience can actually see the action and not trying to figure out what’s going on super chaotic scenes. Shout out also goes to composer Lorne Balfe who apparently is the understudy of Hans Zimmer. So, of course this film’s score sounds like it’s was composed by Zimmer. There’s still the well know Mission: Impossible theme but Balfe made it sounded like something very original. Just a little trivia, Hans Zimmer did compose a Mission: Impossible film, he worked on the second one.

With three box office bombs in a row, Cruise poured all of his performance into this film. He did the usual crazy stunts but was willing to show his character’s age and flaws by having him get his ass whooped a few times in the film. The rest of the cast members were pretty good too. I was afraid Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust might just be nothing more than a cameo but her role was an integral part of the story and as usual she saved Hunt’s life couple of times in the film. Simon and Luthor didn’t really have much to do except to be comic relief. Luther did have a touching scene with Ilsa, I really liked that scene. I liked the addition of Alec Balwin’s character and he even got involved in one action scene with the team members. Bassett and Cavill were a nice addition and I hope we see more of Bassett’s character in the next Mission film. Kirby’s White Widow is an interesting character and I thought she played the role quite well even though she didn’t get a lot of screen time.

Having seen the film twice already, I can declare Fallout is the best Mission: Impossible film yet. It’s full of humor, great tensions and spectacular actions sequences. If there’s an IMAX, Dolby Cinema or other large vendor theater near you, go see it there. It’s definitely my favorite film of the summer and maybe even of the year.


So have you seen Mission Impossible: Fallout? Well, what did YOU think?

AMERICAN MADE review

I couldn’t remember the last time Tom Cruise has starred in a film that isn’t some kind of big budget action/adventure, I don’t know if he’s not getting offers to do more dramatic roles or he just likes doing action pictures. Whatever those reasons maybe, he’s now back in a role that’s well-suited for him.

Based on a true-life story of Barry Seal (Cruise), who is a pilot for TWA Airlines. Seal is a very good pilot, he also smuggled Cuban cigars into the States to make some extra cash. This caught the attention of a CIA agent named Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who asked Seal to come and work for the agency. Bored at his work and also intrigued about working for the CIA, Seal accepted the offer. His job was to fly an advanced airplane with camera attached to it over South America countries and take photos of the communist armies.

After several successful missions, Seal caught the attention of drug runners including the infamous Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejía). Escobar and his buddies wanted Seal to smuggle their cocaine into the States and offered him quite a bit of cash for his troubles. Since the CIA wasn’t paying him that much money for his work and his trophy wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) wasn’t too happy with their current living situation; Seal decided to take Escobar’s offer and work for the drug runners too. As the story progresses, Seal must try to balance his work for the Agency and drug runners and things will never turn out well when you work with powerful people.

This role is perfect for Cruise. The character is charismatic, cocky and greedy and Cruise looked like he had a great time playing the part. Seal’s a man who loves to take risks and of course being a greedy person, he’d never turn down a chance to make lots of money, even from dangerous people like Escobar. He’s also cares for his family and understands that he won’t be able to make the big bucks by just being a pilot. I don’t know anything about the real Barry Seal and I’m going to assume many of the things that happened in the film was made up for dramatic purposes. But Cruise shines here as the man who would do anything to be successful. Unfortunately, none of the other actors made much of an impression on me. Sarah Wright played the typical trophy/worried wife and Gleeson was kind of bland as the man of mystery. Other characters were just there to fill the scenes so Cruise can be the star.

The script by Gary Spinelli didn’t really offer anything new for this kind of genre. It’s pretty much been there done that kind of story. In fact, I thought the first half hour was kind of boring and nothing happened that got my attention. But as the story progresses, it got more interesting, but again I’ve seen these kinds of stories many times in other films and TV shows that I was not surprised at what’s going to happen next. Director Doug Liman decided to shoot the film in style of the 70s and 80s to fit the period and I thought he did a good job capturing the look and feel from those decades. His use of constant handheld and shaky cam style on some scenes were quite annoying though.

This is a good film that belongs to Tom Cruise, so if you’re fan of his then I think you’ll enjoy it. Crime dramas are hard to do these days since it’s been done so well in films from years past. So even though I enjoyed this film, I just can’t give it a higher rating.

 

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So have you seen American Made? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review – The Mummy (2017)

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Hoping to start their shared universe of monster films, Universal decided to reboot one of their earlier successful franchises with The Mummy. With Disney and Warner Bros. ranking in big dollars at the box office with their superhero flicks, Universal is hoping this so called Dark Universe will bring in big money for them as well. Unfortunately, they should’ve spent more time fleshing out better script and ideas because this latest incarnation of The Mummy is a mess.

In Iraq, military men Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are working outside their duty, hoping to find antiquities or treasures and sell them to the black market for large sum of money. On one of their trips to a small village, they accidentally unearth a burial site beneath the sand. The men discover the remains of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princes from thousands of years ago who wants power and live forever, so she made a deal with the god of death and murdered her family. She was eventually captured and was mummified. Now in present day, Morton who was driven by his own greed, decided to open the tomb and released an evil force that could destroy the entire world. In terms of plot, there’s not much going on, after Ahmanet is set free, she chases our hero around London and then gets captured by Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) and his team. Then Dr. Jekyll proceeded to tell Morton and the audience of what’s really going on. Even though it’s advertised as a non-stop action/adventure, there weren’t a lot action in the film.

Six screenwriters were credited and I don’t think none of them knew what kind of film this is supposed to be. It tried to be horror then comedy then action then back to horror. The comedy was flat, the scares were non-existent and the action was scarce. Maybe had the film been directed by a more experienced director, it could’ve been a decent action/horror. But Alex Kurtzman is not that director, with the exception of a very cool airplane clash sequence; he couldn’t put together exciting action sequences or coherent story. I hate to use the terms “plot holes” but this film was full of them. There’s a prologue at the very beginning of the film that didn’t need to be shown and motivations of the characters just didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

Performance wise, Cruise was basically playing an older version of Maverick from Top Gun and he seemed to be having a good time in the first 30-40 minutes of the film. Then you can tell he lost interest and pretty much in cruise control mode with his performance for the rest of the film. Jake Johnson is pretty much wasted here as the thankless side kick/comic relief role. Annabelle Wallis who played Cruise’s love interest, is pretty lackluster in her performance. She’s the typical damsel in distress character. Sofia Boutella is The Mummy and she’s a one note villain, she wants to destroy the world and live forever. The only interesting character to me is Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll. Maybe the film would’ve much more entertaining had they made him the lead as Crowe seemed to have a good time playing the character.

It appears Universal’s Dark Universe is over before it began, they have no one to blame but themselves. I was never a big fan of 1999’s The Mummy but it has its fun moments and didn’t try to be anything than an action film. This latest version tried to be too many things and it failed miserably.

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So have you seen The Mummy reboot? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

MIRogueNation

I’ve been a fan of this long-standing franchise even from the first one by Brian De Palma. Looking back, it certainly was a more cerebral, somber affair as it took itself way too seriously. It might’ve been the fourth movie when the film took a decidedly lighter tone, but amped up the action to be even crazier. It’s akin to a cinematic roller coaster, a huge adrenaline rush from start to finish. You know when want to go for another round the moment you’re done with a REALLY fun amusement park ride? Well, that’s how I felt the minute the end credits roll.
MIRogueNation_PlaneScene

It’s to be expected that the stake of Mission Impossible movies get more and more well, impossible. But really, they’re not called the Impossible Missions Force for nothin’. This time Ethan and team take their craziest mission yet, and a personal one. If you’re familiar with the franchise, you know about the mysterious International organization the Syndicate, which is as skilled as the IMF and commited to destroy Ethan & co.

Right from the opening sequence with the highly-publicized plane sequence where Tom Cruise was hanging out on the side of the plane, a stunt the superstar himself performed no less than 8 times, you’ll know what you’re in for. But you’ve got to have a lot more tricks up your sleeve if you show THAT scene early in the movie. Thankfully that is the case here. If you love chases of any kind, whether it be on foot, car, motorbikes, etc. you’ll find them here. It’s as if each action scene tries to one-up the other and I have to say each one is as exhilarathing as the last.

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My favorite scene is the one within the Vienna Opera House, with stunning camera work in the narrow, shadowy corners. The fight scenes are jaw-droppingly spectacular, even more so against the classic aria of Nessun dorma. It’s truly the spectacle to watch going into a movie like this and it looks amazing on the big screen.

Early in the film, we’re introduced to a new character Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), but THIS is her moment to shine. She’s my favorite female character in ALL of the Mission Impossible movies so far. I’d vote to have Ilsa replace Ethan Hunt in future MI movies or have her star in a MI spinoff movies. She’s THAT great. I love the fact that she’s a formidable character who’s no bimbo, and on top of being Ethan’s equal in the action scenes, Ilsa actually has a compelling character arc.

MIRogueNation_RebeccaFerguson

The relentless logic-defying stunts are electrifying, but I like the fact that director Christopher McQuarrie actually includes one scene that show Ethan is human after all. I won’t mention the scene as to not spoil it for you, but I actually feared for his life for once, even for a moment. There is also an emotional connection between the characters, especially when it comes the dynamic of Ethan’s core group: Benji (Simon Pegg), William (Jeremy Renner), and Luther (Ving Rhames). The camaraderie works well and it’s easy to root for this group.

MIRogueNation_Still

Humor is another recipe for success in this franchise. The high-octane stunts are matched with crackin’ wit, mostly from the resident comedian Pegg, but Renner also made the franchise’s oft-used line “I can neither confirm nor deny any details without the secretary’s approval” to hilarious effect. There’s also a particularly humorous scene involving the British PM towards the end. Nice to see Alec Baldwin as another CIA officer, 25 years after playing Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.

If I have one quibble though, it’d be the villain (Sean Harris). I don’t know why the filmmakers think a weird & creepy bad guy is more effective than a normal-looking one. I’d think that a perfectly normal character with a ruthless agenda can be just as menacing, so long as they cast the right actor. Harris just seems more of a damaged, eccentric psychopath than a really scary villain worthy of a super spy like Ethan.

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Thankfully, the rest of the cast delivered and the movie is as fantastically entertaining as ever. Just like the unstoppable franchise, Cruise clearly still has plenty of energy to make us believe he IS Ethan Hunt, he made even James Bond seems rather tame. He’s starting to look older but young enough to pull off the relentless action and even the shirtless scenes. Still I’m thankful there’s no unnecessary romance that’d make me cringe.

I enjoyed the heck out of MI: Ghost Protocol and I remember thinking, boy how’d they top that Burj Khalifa scene?? Well, not only does Rogue Nation manage to top THAT scene, but the movie as a whole. This one now stands as my favorite of the franchise. I rarely say this about any movie, but I hope they continue to make more Mission Impossible movies and hopefully McQuarrie will be back for at least the next one. This is only his third film, and I actually quite like his previous film with Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher. He also wrote the screenplay for Edge of Tomorrow, so it seems that his collaboration with Cruise has been a rewarding one. Joe Kraemer who worked on the score for Jack Reacher also did a great job scoring this one.

I can’t wait to see this again, next time at IMAX. It’s an escapism sort of movie and Rogue Nation delivers on that front, and more.

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So have you seen MI: Rogue Nation? Well, what did YOU think?

JULY Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

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How in the world is July over already?!?! Seriously, this past month has been a total blur to me. I feel like I haven’t done anything worth writing about the entire Summer! I mean we’re finally gonna go for a bike ride outside of town with some friends, something we’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of Summer but just never got around to it, heh.

Well, the one thing I love about July was writing my birthday tribute to my beloved Stanley Weber and getting a thank you tweet! Yes I’m still giddy just thinking about it 😉 On a related note, I finally got around to writing my first ever script. It’s going well so far, I just hope I can keep the momentum and actually FINISH it.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

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Musings on the Han Solo spinoff &
who we’d like to see as young Solo

The Dream Vacation Blogathon

Favorite directing duos & their film(s)

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)

Music Break: Top 5 Fave Soundtracks from Henry Jackman

Thursday Movie Picks: Sequels

Musings on Clueless – random observations on the
iconic 90s movie 20 years later

TIFF 2015 Picks

Reviews

Ant-Man (2015)

Cartel Land (2015)

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

ONCE (2006)

Self/less (2014)

Song of the Sea (2015)

New-to-me Movies I haven’t reviewed yet:

Ondine (2009)

A Promise (2014)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Minions (2015)

What We Did on Our Holiday (2014)

Rewatches:

Sabrina (1995)

Clueless (1995)

Notting Hill (1999)

Not Another Happy Ending (2013)
I pretty much watch this one every other week, sometimes I just
have it running in the background whilst I’m working on
my laptop just to have Stanley to keep me company 😉

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

TV Shows:

Saw one episode of BBC’s Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express

I’m currently juggling a few British series:
Downton Abbey | The Fall | Any Human Heart

Movie of the Month

MIRogueNationIt’s an easy pick this month. I absolutely LOVE this latest Mission Impossible movie, even more than the fourth one which was my fave until this one. I LOVE Rebecca Ferguson here, I’d love to see her replace Tom Cruise‘s Ethan Hunt for future MI movies! I mean if they can’t have a female Bond, why not have the protagonist of MI movies be a female spy?

I’ll be reviewing it this weekend, but for now, I’ll just say that ROGUE NATION is one of the most entertaining movie I saw all Summer and would likely end up on my top 10 of the year. There’s apparently plenty of juice left in the franchise!


So that’s my July recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

Weekend Roundup + Review of Michael Mann’s Blackhat (2015)

Happy Monday everyone! It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day and my office is closed in remembrance of Dr. King’s birthday. I was reading up about Dr. King’s history earlier today and I’m always astonished by how many inspiring comments he had made in his relatively short life. These are just some of my favorites we can all live by no matter what day it is.

Did anybody see SELMA this weekend? Well, it’s a good a time as any to see that film but I figure it’d resonate even more on MLK Day. I only went to the cinema on Friday night for Blackhat, and only got around to seeing The Guest last night. Tonight my hubby and I are going to start watching The Honourable Woman before Netflix yanked it off its streaming service at the end of the month. We’ve been wanting to check that out for ages, and Maggie Gyllenhaal winning a Golden Globe for her performance served as a perfect reminder!

Now here’s my review of Michael Mann’s latest cyber thriller:

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Well, looks like I have to eat my words on this one, considering I’ve done this enthusiastic post on this movie. I was prepared for a smart cyber-thriller that would speak to our cultural anxieties sparked by the repetitive security breaches and surveillance concerns, but the movie is just a typical crime thriller in which the plot revolves around a malicious hacker (hence the title). The opening sequence depicts a CGI tracking shot going into a maze-like chase from inside one computer and out of another on the other side of the globe and resulted in a nuclear reactor explosion in China. Both US and China are desperate to find a computer whiz to help find the cyber criminal and so we’re introduced to Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who’s currently serving time for computer fraud. Conveniently, his MIT roommate Chen (Wang Leehom) is now a high-ranking Chinese official and he suggests that the FBI grants him a furlough to help them out.

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It all sounds oh-so-exciting but the film itself comes off as dull and un-suspenseful. The hacking jargon and those cyber intrusion CGI may look and sound cool at first, but it gets repetitive as the film progresses, but that’s not even the film’s biggest flaws. The aerial shots are frame-worthy, as one would expect from visual stylist like Mann, but it can’t cover for the clunky dialog (both in English and sometimes broken Indonesian) nor all the plot contrivances that don’t pay off at the end. I haven’t even mentioned the lame villains that’s more irritating than menacing.

I mentioned my doubts about our current ‘sexiest man alive’ Hemsworth as a hacker. Not just any hacker mind you, a computer genius who can hack into anything, including tricking NSA to get him access to their “Black Widow” super computer. (Thor & Black Widow, yes those Avengers reference did put a smile on my face). Well, no matter how authentic the hacking sequences and UNIX command line accuracies are (apparently the film got ’em right according to Wired), it’s still REALLY tough to buy Hemsworth as any sort of computer whiz. He’s not a terrible actor in the right role but he’s so out of his elements here. He also isn’t a movie star, not yet anyway. I read a comment on IMDb that says, ‘Tom Cruise is a star, Hemsworth is a mere flash light.’ Ouch! But y’know what, it made me think that if it were Cruise or someone with his charisma in the starring role, the movie could’ve been a bit more watchable.

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It doesn’t help matters that we’ve got the cheesiest, most cringe-worthy tacked-on romance between him and Chen’s sister (Tang Wei) who conveniently happens to be a software expert. I remember the scorching chemistry between Colin Farrell and Gong Li in Miami Vice, but none of that is to be found here between Hemsworth and Wei. All longing glances and even a sex scene two days after they met, but absolutely zero chemistry. Zilch. I wish Mann would give more time to Leehom and Viola Davis instead, both are perhaps the only saving grace here in terms of casting. Even delivering lines like ‘You can call me Chica anytime you want,’ Davis is always entertaining to watch, if only Hollywood would give her more to do in a movie.

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It’s really a shame that this film never rise above mediocrity. There are even some seriously preposterous moments, I mean, magazines used as bullet proof vest?? Ok so maybe if Thor has ribs made of steel [shrug] My hubby and I turned to each other as the credit rolls that it doesn’t feel like a Michael Mann movie. It looks as if a lesser filmmaker was imitating him as Blackhat has the look/sound/feel to it. I do appreciate the global feel of the film, being shot on location in several countries from US to China to Indonesia. But even the finale set during a Hindus’ Nyepi “Day of Silence” Celebration in Jakarta serves nothing more than an extremely elaborate set decoration, employing 3000 extras no less, that doesn’t add much to the movie.

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You know I REALLY want to love Blackhat so imagine my disappointment. It’s yet another exercise of style-over-substance. Yet visually, despite some arresting ones here and there, overall it’s not as impressive as his previous work in an urban setting, i.e. Collateral. Everything else fares even worse, from casting, dialog and plot, there’s very little to recommend this even coming from a big fan of this director. Six years after the disappointing Public Enemies, this is another misfire from Michael Mann. Well, I hope we won’t have to wait as long to see him back in top form for his next film.

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So what did you watch this weekend? What do you think of Blackhat?