Archives for posts with tag: tom cruise

To be honest, I enjoyed the hell out of this. Does that mean it’s any good? Yes and no. Look, it’s not my fault if you expected this to be either the happy-go-lucky nonsense of the Brendan Fraser original or an actual proper film. Would either option have been better? Probably.

You know the plot. An Egyptian princess, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), nearly manages to summon Ultimate Evil into the world, but she’s stopped just in time, mummified alive, and buried in the desert. Some time later, an unscrupulous antiquities looter, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), his dimwitted sidekick (Nick from “New Girl”), and a beautiful archaeologist, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), find the mummy, free the mummy, and must defeat the mummy. Since this one is set in the present, there’s more ISIS and science-adjacent goofiness. Neither of these is an improvement.

MV5BMjM5NzM5NTgxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDEyNTk4MTI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Among the film’s strengths are its energy, Cruise’s commitment, and, occasionally, Nick from “New Girl”‘s comedic chops. One gets the impression that every pitch meeting Cruise attends now ends with him saying, “Sure, but turn it up to eleven.” Mummy not enough for you? Crusader zombies! Tom Cruise has been on screen for seven whole minutes? Drop a missile on him! Archaeologists in films aren’t wifty enough already? Add Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) into the mix! And Edward Hyde (Russell Crowe with less make-up)!

So, yeah, it’s not half-assed. But it’s not really something worth whole-assing. It doesn’t add anything except unnecessary moralizing and special effects. It’s not quite silly enough–one feels the lack of John Hannah keenly. Boutella, one feels, is wasted in her rôle. We all know she’s athletic and beautiful, but Ahmanet could have slightly more personality. And whatever, Jenny. I get that we don’t want to have Evelyn’s cutesy incompetence, but you’re a cipher. And no woman archaeologist wears her hair down in the field.

Everyone told me this was awful, and it wasn’t awful. It was mindless and full of explosions, which is what I expected and wanted. Get a great big bag of popcorn.

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Rating: PG-13
Length: 110 minutes
Score: 3/5

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Somehow I made it through middle school without reading S. E. Hinton’s novel. I think it was pure contrariety. Other people liked it, so I refused to.

ButMV5BY2E4Njk4N2UtZWFhOS00NzczLWFmNDgtMzdhMjFlNTZjMmVhL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_ also I suspect it is not very good, because this movie is insane. It’s the fifties, presumably, and somewhere in the ass end of nowhere, America, there are rich kids in khakis and poor kids in jeans and they hate each other and have dumb gang names. Accidents happen, children get trapped in a fire, Matt Dillon dies for reasons I’m not sure of. Apparently Hinton wrote the novel when she was sixteen; it shows.

The thing about this movie is that everyone is in it, and somehow few of them have aged. A friend suggested that they all joined a vampire cult, and, frankly, it is really hard to believe that Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe, especially, are 35 years older than they were when they made it.

Also everyone is shirtless all the time.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rating: PG
Length: 91 minutes
Score: Unrateable

This came out in between A Few Good Men and Interview with the Vampire, and that feels about right. And apparently there was a time when you could cast David Strathairn as Tom Cruise’s black sheep of a brother. The early nineties were weird.

Mitch McDeere (Cruise) works his way through Harvard Law by waiting tables. He is married to Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), who is from a well-off family and gave up everything to be with him. This comes up a lot but never pays off. Every law firm wants to hire him, but despite Abby’s Stepford heebiejeebies, he takes a job at a small family outfit in Memphis. They assign him Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) as his mentor.

MV5BMTgxMjM5NDYwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkzMzk5MDE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Abby’s reservations do not go away, and then people start dying in the Caymans, which, in the nineties, was probably the most suspicious place for inconvenient people to die. To stir the pot unnecessarily arrives an FBI agent in the person of a bald Ed Harris. He wants Mitch to help the FBI take down the eponymous Firm, which launders money for the Chicago mob. But this interferes with Mitch’s honest lawyering! Disclosing those documents would violate lawyer-client confidentiality, which sounds less bad than laundering money for a crime family, but I’m not a lawyer, so I could be wrong.

Meanwhile Mitch’s mom lives in a trailer park and his brother is in prison and he hires Eddie Lomax (Gary Busey) to investigate things. Tammy (Holly Hunter) works for Lomax, because of course she does. And everyone is being hunted by a near-albino man.

Obviously this will proceed in the manner which will allow Tom Cruise to set his jaw the most righteously. And apparently everyone just had Mickey Finns lying around all the time back then, and few qualms about using them. Basically, most of the people in this movie play painfully close to type, which works because most of the plot in this movie is a series of painful clichés. I’d cut it slack for being the Casablanca of overwrought legal dramas, thereby exonerating it from the charge of banality, but it’s not that good even if you correct for that.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Rating: R
Length: 154 minutes
Score: 3/5

mv5bmtc5otk4mtm3m15bml5banbnxkftztgwodcxnjg3mde-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_In the near-ish future, aliens invade. They seem to be octopus-whirlwinds of metal and energy, and they are unstoppable. It turns out that part of why they are unstoppable is that they can manipulate time, and therefore can restart battles every time they lose. In an unsubtle touch, they landed first in Hamburg, and we see their shadow spread across Europe.

As the film begins, the united armed forces of the rest of the world are preparing for an all-out assault, a landing on the Normandy beaches from flying troop-carriers. A single victory, at Verdun (of course), has given them new confidence. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the Angel of Verdun, is their new hero. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) arrives in London, thinking he will continue his job in military PR. And he will, but while embedded in a unit that storms the beaches. He is…not sold on this.

This is the glory of the film. Cage is handsome, smooth, amoral, and needs a swift kick in the ass. When he wakes up in Dover and Bill Paxton yells at him to join his comrades and not wimp out of something for the first time in his life, you are on Bill Paxton’s side. You’re a little bit sorry for him as he lands in the shallows and struggles onto land, because no one even bothered to tell him how to take the safety off. And then he dies! Both he and Rita have managed to acquire the aliens’ time-shifting ability, and so Cage must figure out how to use this to win the war. Progress is incremental, and painful. Rita trains him painstakingly–his pains. Since time resets when he dies, it makes sense to put him out of his misery any time he is even slightly injured. You get to watch Tom Cruise bite it so many times.

And a lot of those times, Emily Blunt shoots him in the goddamn face. She, too, is amazing in this movie. Rita’s absolutely tough as nails, but there’s never the feeling that the rôle was written for a man, as is often the case in such situations. Since they do not share memories (time-jumping will do that), they both get hideously frustrated and sad about their inability, sometimes, to communicate. It’s surprisingly affecting.

This movie is funny, clever, different, and unexpectedly deep. You should watch it.

(Also, it has a billion minor British actors–Jonas Armstrong, Lara Pulver, Charlotte Riley, Noah Taylor–who are a delight.)

Director: Doug Liman
Rating: PG-13
Length: 113 minutes
Score: 5/5

So, I’m pretty sure that the impetus behind this film was that Tom Cruise saw a photo of Claus von Stauffenberg and thought, “I am doing humanity a disservice if I do not make a film about this man.” Also maybe felt that his résumé was lacking a movie where he got to thwart Nazis. Of course, he doesn’t actually get to thwart any Nazis. The Valkyrie plot failed, and nobody got to kill Hitler but Hitler, pace Quentin Tarantino.

mv5bmtg3njc2odeyn15bml5banbnxkftztcwntawmzc3na-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Valkyrie is however a pretty good movie.  While Cruise as Stauffenberg gets to do a lot of jaw-jutting moralizing, the logistical problems–not to mention those of spinelessness–are well handled by everyone else.  Eddie Izzard (Fellgiebel) and Tom Wilkinson (Fromm) in particular waver and falter and smoke nervously in very convincing ways. Tom Hollander (Brandt) is as usual excellent in an as usual ungrateful part.

The film’s main strengths are the small things, though. A switchboard operator has to decide whether to put through the communiqué from the Wolf’s Lair or from the coup leaders, and his face eloquently says how far this is above his pay grade. Thomas Kretschmann, handsome as always and filled with ennui as the commander of a home guard division, likewise is never sure whether it’s a drill or whether the sky is falling and he should arrest Goebbels. Stauffenberg’s a.d.c. (Jamie Parker) is welcomed into the office with an offer of risky involvement in high treason and shrugs a yes. You actually watch the movements of the explosive-laden briefcase with some trepidation.

It’s not subtle. Goebbels (Harvey Friedman) and Goering (Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg) are sneering, evil cartoons. Hitler himself (David Bamber) is insufficiently mad for July of 1944, but still just awful. The ominous mass of greatcoats and jackboots hangs over the film. On the other side, Stauffenberg loves his wife, his children, and Jesus. The Stauffenberg children are relentlessly blond and play soldiers to the accompaniment of a phonograph playing Wagner and Tom Cruise’s agonized eyes. When the members of the plot are all rounded up and shot (spoiler alert!), Terence Stamp as Ludwig Beck gloriously observes, on learning that he is to be spared, that he’d like a pistol. For personal reasons.

And just in case you were wondering if it’s as hell-for-leather awesome as Tom Cruise movies usually are: he is blown up not once but twice within the first six minutes and then has to wear an eyepatch.

Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes
Score: 4/5

Jack Reacher is not very good. It’s competent, and sometimes even pleasing. But it half-asses everything. There’s weird family drama, there’s strange unexplained personal mystery, there’s Werner Herzog. Not one of those things goes anywhere.

Because he is a shadowy ex-military type who decides to go in for his own personal brand of morality or justice, Reacher (Cruise, obviously), has no possessions. So he must wash his shirt while speaking to Helen (Rosamund Pike), and doesn’t have another one to wear. So he’s shirtless. She is the DA. That is a thing that happens.

And then Reacher has to be incognito, briefly, so he wears a Pittsburgh Pirates cap. The audience has just enough time to be put off that Tom Cruise is wearing anything other than a Red Sox or Yankees cap before, with a self-aware smile, he hands it to the man next to him. It’s a very strange meta moment.

That’s what I remember about this movie. So, as always, if you like watching Tom Cruise do Tom Cruise things, this is a reasonable installment.

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Rating: PG-13
Length: 130 minutes
Score: 3/5

I saw Jerry Maguire in cinemas, which is pretty amazing because I was way too young to see it. But I think I like it more for that precise reason. See, if you’re way too young to see Jerry Maguire, you have no idea what’s going on with Kelly Preston (on any level) or Renée Zellweger (again, on any level). But, if you’re way too young to see Jerry Maguire AND you love sports, you still know exactly what is going on with Cuba Gooding, Jr., and the film is just a great sports movie with vestigial romantic drama. Also the little kid is amazing.

As a grown-up, different things come to the fore–Ms. Zellweger’s sadly bygone charm, the amazing Regina King, and Bonnie Hunt as the superbly judgemental older sister. You understand about medical insurance and also about what a sports agent is (sort of). You notice that the logo and uniform transition in Philadelphia was not seamless–the Eagles stuff has the new logo but they’re still wearing the (infinitely better) kelly greens (as far as I can tell/remember, this is accurate, and was happening precisely when this movie was being made). Real Al Michaels!

But, all that said: I still think this is a great movie. It’s funny, it’s touching, it has peak Cuba Gooding, Jr. as well as near-peak Tom Cruise and very-near-peak Renée Zellweger. There’s a reason that “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” have entered our consciousness–they work.

Also, for all that this movie is nearly twenty years old… The clothes have aged horribly, but the football stuff is either oddly prescient or has a sad air of plus ça change. Concussions, squirrelly deals, the general treatment of athletes like so many pieces of meat, it’s all there. Not sure how I feel about this.

Stray notes:

  • If given the pair Jay Mohr/Tom Cruise, is Jay Mohr really going to be the asshole?
  • Donal Logue and Eric Stoltz both have tiny parts in this movie. Oh, the 90s.
  • Relatedly, Mel Kiper has not aged; still terrifying.

Director: Cameron Crowe
Rating: R
Length: 139 min.
Score: 5/5.  REVISED: Because on consideration, with the exception of Dorothy’s inexplicable shoelessness en route to her big date, this movie is basically perfect. Solid sports movie, solid romance, solidly humorous, solid performances, all adding up to more than the sum of its parts.

So, you’ve seen Risky Business, pretty much for sure. Well, I hadn’t. Which is weird on a number of levels–it’s generally considered a classic, it came out in the 80s, it has Tom Cruise in it–but is still true.

And I’m now not entirely glad I did. I almost wish that my familiarity with this movie still consisted entirely of Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear, because the rest of it is so troubling. The 80s, guys. They were a special time, when we were crazy people. Crazy people in preppy outfits, sure, but also with insane ideas about everything, especially what high schoolers are or should be like, and also hookers.

So…points for young, cute Tom Cruise in some stellar Levis, minus points for bonkers sexual politics and general skin-crawly insanity.

Stray notes:

  • My Princeton interview also succeeded because my house was full of prostitutes (just kidding, it wasn’t at my house).
  • Having sex on the CTA seems like a really gross idea.

Director: Paul Brickman
Rating: R
Length: 99 min.
Score: 2/5.

I’m not entirely clear on what happened in this movie. I do know that it starts off with Tom Cruise in a Russian prison, that within 30 minutes the Kremlin has blown up, that Tom Cruise falls off the Burj Khalifa, and that then, for some reason, they go to India, and Anil Kapoor gets involved.

And I do not care. The whole thing is rollicking good fun. Simon Pegg does his Simon Pegg thing, Jeremy Renner does his Marvel thing rather than his actual-actor thing, Paula Patton is… there, and Anil Kapoor– Well, Anil Kapoor made me worry for a little while, that the writing was, shall we say, not entirely progressive. And I still have that concern, but with the proviso that the responsibility for his anomalous behavior is at least 50% on Mr. Kapoor’s own head. I have seen Taal, and he is not less crazy weird in it.

Character development is heavy-handed and/or non-existent, but that’s not what you’re looking for in such a movie. Tom Cruise needs a haircut, but otherwise is his old self, which you like or you don’t. He did his own stunts and some of them are literally (and I mean literally) breathtaking. I dropped my iPad at one point.

Stray notes:

  • There are people that I think you’re supposed to care about from previous M:I movies, but I’ve only seen the first one, so I’m not sure about that. It doesn’t matter.
  • Tom Cruise has a magical jacket that is Russian army on one side and tacky American windbreaker on the other. It’s awesome. Also his disguise-glasses are hot. Not sorry.
  • Russians are such great film villains. I love that we can still do this.

Director: Brad Bird
Rating: PG-13
Length: 133 min.
Score: 4/5.

Well, this is now my favorite movie that uses the Empire State Building’s observation deck in pivotal scenes, because instead of stupid Meg Ryan crap, it has this:

And how can man die better
than facing fearful odds
for the ashes of his fathers
and the temples of his gods?

Which is clearly better.

So this is where I stop apologizing for Tom Cruise. I never wanted to in the first place, but people judge you for liking him. And, yeah, the movie had annoying Tom Cruise things: the Yankees ballcap, the flannel shirts, the motorbike, the baseball generally, the making Olga Kurylenko pretend to be four inches shorter than she is, the jutting jaw as moral certainty arrives. But whatever. The man makes good movies and he looks good doing it.

Sure, Oblivion had some downsides. The science was slightly dubious, but they just got it out of the way in the opening monologue so you could accept it and move on. Tom Cruise flies what is essentially a modified B-Wing, and it therefore kind of sucks. He also fixes a nuclear-powered machine with literal chewing gum. And apparently in a post-apocalyptic wasteland the desperate refugees have time to kit themselves out in cool steampunk cloaks. Whatever.

But. This movie–an alien invasion, post-nuclear-holocaust type movie–should have been entirely predictable, and it was not. I lost track of what was going on at least twice. I’ve seen a million of these movies and sort of figured I didn’t really need to pay attention. But I did, and not just to the plot. This movie looks stunning. The nukes and the war have made seas rise and earth move, and the canyons of the New York City avenues are now truly canyons. It is a very different kind of love letter to New York than was Inside Llewyn Davis, but in its own way I think it perhaps does better. The ruined reading room of the main branch of the Public Library serves as the backdrop for a battle. It is still beautiful. Outside Manhattan, a devastated Pentagon is covered in moss, and the Brooklyn Bridge is buried to halfway up the iconic arches. Plus, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

I’m not sure I can say much more without giving away important points, so I’ll move on to the stray observations.

  • Morgan Freeman is drastically less wasted than usual, and I think this is a much less annoying movie than Lucy will be, so hooray!
  • Does anyone else dislike Andrea Riseborough automatically, or is that just because I saw her first on “Party Animals,” and she was just so deeply hateful?
  • Yes, of course there is a mostly-buried Statue of Liberty. This movie isn’t crazy.

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Rating: PG-13, for pretty standard sci-fi shoot-’em-ups
Length: a sliiiightly too long 124 minutes
Score: 4/5. Not even sorry. And I might have given Edge of Tomorrow 5/5 if I’d had this blog at the time, so come at me, bro.