Two summer movies that I saw! Hooray!
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Everyone by now has seen at least one of the Mission Impossible films. It’s a weird series as the plot remains pretty close to the same each time while a different director puts their stylistic stamp on the film (and decides how long Tom Cruise’s hair should be).
Christopher McQuarrie is certainly capable, too, having written one of my favourite films from last year (Edge of Tomorrow) among others and directed 2012’s completely underrated Jack Reacher.
So does this one hold up? Yes, yes it does. In fact it’s one of the better films in the series so far. This is in large part because this time we actually have some returning cast in Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Ving Rhames which means we have characters that we actually care about, but also because the plot is a nice old school twisty-turny adventure. Sean Harris shows up as the generic bad guy, Alec Baldwin shows up as a high up CIA director hunting down the rogue team, and Rebecca Ferguson joins the team as the “don’t know what side she’s on” spy playing both sides. Everyone is pretty good, but she’s great. I don’t believe I’ve seen her before but I look forward to seeing her again.
All in all, there are a bunch of big stunts, a bunch of twists and turns, Tom Cruise being smarter than everyone else, a good score, and a great supporting cast. If you haven’t seen it already I don’t know what you’re waiting for.
Straight Outta Compton
Biopics are always tough. Filmmakers have to pick the right story to tell, and choose how to tell it well. Straight Outta Compton does this pretty much perfectly in the first half and then descends into a pretty boilerplate montage in the second half.
The first half of the film chronicles the early lives of Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and Dr Dre (and also DJ Yella and MC Ren, though they’re a little downplayed) as they react to their surroundings, write their music, form NWA, break big, and have a huge concert in Detroit that ends in a riot. Everything to that point is fucking fantastic. Then, after the band breaks up, it skips through the years showing us a highlight reel of their lives which only seems to exist to let us know how much other stuff they did.
“How’s Friday coming baby?” Cube’s wife asks as she walks by him toiling away on a laptop at one point. Nothing in the second half comes up organically, it just jumps from scene to scene of this stuff. It’s not exactly bad, it’s just kind of boring. Luckily the first half is pretty electric, so it’s totally worth seeing, but it really shines through that this is the story of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.