Month: July 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

What better way to open the fifth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise than having the star cling to a plane on take off? Of course, this was the image mostly associated with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation however, I suspect many were not expecting it to be used in the opening scene. Of course Christopher McQuarrie using this in his opening scene got me intrigued to what other stunts he was going to pull.

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Truthfully, the answer was none (well, barely any), but what he created instead was what I would consider a better product compared to the last film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. That being said, the plot is still based around a mission (should he choose to accept it of course) is a seemingly impossible one (this is even named dropped into the film, much like the cringeworthy “Mission accomplished” at the end of Ghost Protocol), however the mission becomes a possible one with ease.

With the familiar theme kicking off the film as usual, however, this time round the theme is mixed in with intoxicating orchestral music throughout the film making it flow and helping the film along (including the scene in Vienna), this effect was also used in Jurassic World, adapting the original into their soundtrack and I thought it worked excellently there too.

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Rogue Nation takes us on a journey all around the world as Ethan Hunt tries to track the notorious organisation known as The Syndicate, ranging from Cuba to Morocco to London whilst being hunted by CIA operative Alan Hunley. My favourite scene has got to the be the escalating thrilling ride at the Opera in Vienna, a three way shootout overlaid with a spectacular performance of Nessun Dorma. The drama built by this music amplifies the tension that grows as Ethan has to make a snap decision of shooting which Syndicate operative.

Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames all reprise their roles from previous Mission Impossible films, with new casting including Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust and Sean Harris playing the antagonist Soloman Lane and not forgetting Alec Baldwin as CIA Director Alan Hunley.

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Although I mentioned that there was next to no stunts like Ethan hanging off a plane, there is however an exhilarating car chase scene takes place midway through the film, which then turns into a motorbike chase. I thought Christopher McQuarrie directed this scene fantastically without going too over the top, but kept the pace fast enough to keep me entertained.

McQuarrie, having written the fantastically tense thriller The Usual Suspects, used this experience and adapted Rogue Nation into the tense, yet exhilarating ride that plays out on screen. Ultimately playing out with the three-way shootout in Vienna to the mission that is deemed impossible in Morocco.

The plot twist is nothing astounding, however, it keeps the story fresh and light when the true nature and of course, how The Syndicate was first created is revealed. Of course, this was the basis of Ethan’s ‘impossible’ mission and as he does this mission he tugs at the loose thread of The Syndicate’s jumper and it all starts to unravel.

Truthfully I am not the biggest fan of the Mission Impossible franchise and never rushed out to see the films, however, I really did enjoy this film. It had great timing and pace throughout the film and of course the edge of the seat blaze of glory that the car chase scene happened in was brilliant too. However, my favourite scene would be the showdown in Vienna. The action is barely anything but the thrill and the intensity of it unfolding is fantastic.

7/10

7 Days in Hell (2015)

I’ve seen a few sports documentaries before, mainly ESPN’s 30 for 30’s and I’ve seen a few mockumentaries. 7 Days in Hell showcases both sides of the coin, directed by Jake Szymanski and featuring Kit Harrington and Andy Samberg as the two subjects of the ‘documentary’.

This mockumentary is based on a fictional seven day marathon match between Aaron Williams and Charles Poole, that occurred during the 2001 Wimbledon Championships. The two characters aren’t cut from the same cloth either, Charles coming from privileged background, whereas Aaron coming from the streets and ending up in the care of the Williams family. Serena explains that they reversed The Blind Side and took this white kid and made him a tennis star. Aaron is the bad-boy of tennis, sporting an outrageous haircut whilst storming out of interviews is all familiar ground for Aaron Williams.

Charles Poole’s (Kit Harrington) story is different. At a young age, he was a prodigy to the tennis world, although he was forced into the tennis world by his mother, even citing that she’ll never love him if he’s number two. So much so, that he forgoes his education and gets an education in big rig driving, so he can focus on his tennis career.

In the short forty-five minute mockumentary, it recounts the two tennis players lives from early childhood up until the 2001 first round match. Aaron Williams life is far more exciting as he loses 1996 Wimbledon final after killing an umpire and blowing a 2 set, 5 game lead. Whereas Charles Poole is simply England’s poster boy in the tennis world, but always answering with the word ‘indubitably’ when he is struggling with a question.

England's Poster Boy

England’s Poster Boy

It has an assortment of stars playing characters, such as Mary Steenburgen as Charle’s mother, Will Forte as a tennis historian (Who also comes up with the name 7 Days in Hell) and June Squibb playing the Queen of England. It also features John McEnroe, Serena Williams, David Copperfield and Chris Evert, as themselves recounting the match and moments in their lives involving Aaron and Charles.

This mockumentary strangely works, even though some of the scenes in the short film are downright ridiculous, it still feels like a real documentary regardless of the validity of the story. The recounting of each of the seven days is thoroughly entertaining too, which includes a threesome on the court, Aaron being hit by a big rig truck and the Queen assaulting Charles in an elevator, because why not?

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These are the kind of laughs that can be expected in a comedy driven by Andy Samberg, but it was rather refreshing to see Kit Harrington is something other than a serious drama (especially after the most recent season of Game of Thrones). With it’s run time of around forty-five minutes it isn’t too taxing to watch and fairly refreshing considering the nature of the mockumentary. I was thoroughly entertained throughout and as far as mockumentaries go, this one works very well with the inclusion of footage throughout their respective careers and Aaron Williams brief stint in a  Swedish prison (watch out for this scene, it’s rather odd and probably not for the feint-hearted).

(Spoiler)

As with all documentaries, there is that finishing, lasting message. After the match has finished with them both surprisingly killing each other in a fight (prompted by none other than the Queen), there is a resounding respect that is had for the tennis players opponent. This is shown by the inclusion of more footage during their respective interviews before their showdown at Wimbledon.

(End Spoiler)

For those wanting to watch it, I believe it is being showcased on Sky Atlantic tonight (10/07/15) at 10:10pm.

7/10