I love movies, and being the red-blooded guy that I am, two recent releases advertising some adrenaline-filled action caught my eye causing me to walk inside the darkened rooms of the silver screen. I've seen both of these movies within the past few days and thought I'd share some of my insights on both before you pluck down some of your had-earned dollar bills.
Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol: This is the fourth installment of the mega-successful thriller which actor, Tom Cruise, has made famous again by resurrecting the theme of the TV series from decades past. Cruise, of course, plays IMF super-agent Ethan Hunt whose mission (if he chooses to accept it) is to save the world from nuclear annihilation after the launch codes from the Kremlin in Moscow are stolen and placed into the hands of some of the worlds nastiest terrorists. Along with his team (a new one compared to the first three MI's) and some super-secret orders from the President, Cruise chases the codes down using every gadget, car, weapon, and super-computer known to man. The action is nonstop after the first three minutes and never stops, taking place in such cities as Moscow, Budapest, Mumbai, and Dubai. Of course, in the end, Ethan Hunt gets his man, the world is safe once again, and the codes safely tucked back inside responsible hands.
Now, I love action, speed, and a certain amount of violence when it truly enhances the storyline and its characters, as well as some exciting IMAX camera angles making the super-stunts (i.e. Cruise climbing along the outside of the worlds tallest building with nothing but a pair of high-techno gloves) impossible to imagine. It was a good movie, not great, but good. It checked all the boxes of what one would expect of the MI series. But, it's all action and virtually little story. Cruise is robot-like with only one gear, fast. Neither him, or any member of his team ever sleeps, eats, or shows emotion other than to kill or be killed. It makes for a great action flick. However, if you're like me, and enjoy a little interpersonal human drama woven inside the world of secret agents and star trek technology, you might wind up a bit disappointed.
I miss the Tom Cruise of old when he poured out his acting heart in such films as: The Firm, The Last Samurai, and A Few Good Men. He makes a terrific Ethan Hunt, but I preferred him much more as Mitch Mcdeere.
Red Tails: Being a lover of all things aviation, military history, and a combination of both I couldn't resist giving this one a try.
George Lucas is Executive Producer, and Anthony Hemingway is Director of this wartime drama surrounding the famous, Tuskegee Airmen who were the first group of African American aviators in the U.S. Military. Two of the lead actors in this movie are Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard.
The movie begins showing U.S. Bombers being blasted out of the sky at the hands of some of Hitler's finest. All the while, members of the 332nd Fighter Group are utilized performing mundane duties like aerial surveying and intelligence gathering, only being allowed to squeeze the trigger when spotting such items as a lone German supply truck, train, or isolated enemy warship that just happened to be sailing along allied waters.
The storyline, unlike Mission Impossible is much more emotional and in depth--delving into the racial bigotry and isolationist feelings of this close-nit group of determined warriors. Fighting for their rights in Washington, their commanding officer, a full bird Colonel played by Terrence Howard finally gets a green light to employ their skills as bomber escorts and also to provide aerial coverage during ground force landings. It's during these operations that the Tuskegee Airmen secure their place in history shooting down scores of German fighters while flying their famous P-51Mustangs painted with red paint on their tails therefore earning the nickname, Red Tails. Or as the bomber pilots came to call them, The Red Tail Angels.
This movie is very good, but lacks the punch I'd hoped for. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the dialogue is rather corny with heaps of cliches making me wish for those rare qualities found in other war stories like Patton, Saving Private Ryan, or even Platoon. I kept waiting to see a true heroin arrive on the scene, an impossible feat to suddenly materialize, or some other seat-of-your-pants action making me glue my eyes to the screen, but it never came. And the last scenes caused you to sit and wonder, is that really the end?--leaving you feeling the story stopped in the middle and there was much more needing to be said.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie. It sheds some much needed light on many of our nations finest, but, I think the story of these brave souls could've been better served using George Lucas' brilliant creative abilities.
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