Monday, 13 August 2018

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (2018)

Tom Cruise returns as IMF superspy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the new installment of the Mission: Impossible film series. His frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed the previous movie (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, 2015), is back too for this direct sequel.

The bottom line: Simply the Best.

Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt  is haunted by the memory of anarchist Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), a former adversary. The surviving members of The Syndicate, Lane's terrorist organization, have formed a group called The Apostles. Three plutonium cores are part of their plans, which involve a shadowy figure named John Lark. Ethan goes to Berlin with Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benjamin "Benji" Dunn (Simon Pegg) to intercept the cores. The mission goes wrong, obliging them to obtain information from an expert who worked with The Apostles to assemble three portable nuclear bombs.

Against the will of IMF secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), CIA director Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett) assigns August Walker (Henry Cavill) of the agency's Special Activities Division  to keep an eye on the team. Ethan and agent Walker HALO jump to reach the Grand Palais in Paris, where John Lark must buy the plutonium at a fundraiser party given by arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis, aka "The White Widow" (Vanessa Kirby). MI6 and ex-Syndicate operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) resurfaces but Hunt cannot trust her, nor the CIA, as he's confronted to Solomon Lane once again. And the life of his estranged wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) is threatened. From the streets of the French capital to the mountains of Kashmir, via London, the IMF races against time to prevent a global catastrophe.

Launched in 1996, the Mission: Impossible spy action movie franchise is based on the 1966-1973 namesake television series created by Bruce Geller. Its success lies mainly in the will of actor/producer Tom Cruise to perform the most spectacular stunts by himself (he's still in top shape at 56). Despite some past controversies, Cruise sure knows how to meet the expectations of his public and exceed them. The well established formula of the big screen Mission: Impossible consists in IMF point man Ethan Hunt running (often literally) to find a thing in order to save the world. His mission, already presumed impossible, turns not as planned and his status is jeopardized. Thankfully, Hunt can count on his various teammates. Especially the anxious Benji, who provides most of the humour, and the grumpy Luther.

Written by its director Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible - Fallout has enough twists and turns to keep Ethan Hunt busy between the mandatory mind-blowing sequences  in the sky, on a motorcycle, on roofs, etc. Though the script doesn't pretend to be a John le Carré novel, the personal stakes are higher for our proto-Jack Bauer. Punctuated with a discrete dose of derision, Fallout reminds of the golden era of pre-Daniel Craig James Bond films and doesn't forget nods to both  the TV series and its predecessors. After Dubai and Vienna, it's the turn of Paris to be the focus of a Mission: Impossible, a choice with a particular resonance because of the terrorist attacks which struck the city in 2015. Of course, Paris was also the playground of the legendary French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo, who did his own stunts too.

English actor Sean Harris is beyond impressive in the role of Hunt's worst nightmare. Rebecca Ferguson is great as Ilsa, the kickass leading lady. Female characterization wasn't the forte of Mission: Impossible before her arrival. Alec Baldwin's sympathetic secretary Hunley does a (little) bit of field work. Henry Cavill, who plays the untrustworthy CIA watch dog August Walker, is a perfect addition to the franchise. Like Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett. Scottish composer Lorne Balfe, who succeeds Joe Kraemer and Michael Giacchino, did an excellent job with the soundtrack. Aaron Becker designed the superb main title and curtain call sequences. Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cinematography by Rob Hardy. Film editing by Eddie Hamilton.

Released on August 1 in France.

https://www.slashfilm.com/christopher-mcquarrie-interview-2/

See also:

http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2015/08/mission-impossible-rogue-nation-2015.html 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

MIDSOMER MURDERS - SERIES 20, EPISODE 2: DEATH OF THE SMALL COPPERS

The 20th series of the venerable British detective drama Midsomer Murders premiered last month in the United States on streaming services Britbox and Acorn TV, ahead of ITV. It will be available in France on DVD this summer.

Mahesh Sidana, head of school in the village of Little Crosby and  founding member of the Circulus IQ society, is murdered in a most ironic way given his hobby. Grady Palmerston, the arrogant supremo of Circulus is in the suspect list of DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix). Like Luke Fawcett, an English teacher sacked by Sidana and who spends time at the pub doing crosswords. Winter falls under the charm of Penny Kingdom, a biology teacher who runs a lepidoptery group. Barnaby is surprised to run into Danish police detective Birgitte Poulsen. The Midsomer Constabulary learns about "Danish Feng Shui", Sarah Barnaby (Fiona Dolman) gives some help and quizzes can be deadly. 

Written by Chris Murray (Series 19's Death by Persuasion) and directed by Paul Harrison, the very good Death of the Small Coppers feels like an episode of Lewis with Little Crosby doubling as Oxford. Danish actress Ann Eleonora Jørgensen (The Killing) returns as Birgitte Poulsen, a character first seen in The Killing of Copenhagen, the 100th episode. Also with Mark Benton (Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators) as Eddie Rowbotham, Peter Egan (Unforgotten) as Grady Palmerston, Ray Fearon (Carlton Scott), Ellie Haddington (Ginny Welton), Thusita Jayasundera (Anika Sidana), John Light (Father Brown) as Luke Fawcett, Niamh McGrady (Penny Kingdom), Chance Perdomo (Leo Scott), etc.

Annette Badland plays Dr. Fleur Perkins, the new pathologist. Based upon the books by Caroline Graham. Produced by Guy Hescott. Executive producers Jonathan Fisher and Michele Buck. Co-produced by Ian Strachan. Produced by Bentley Productions (an  All3Media company). Music composed by Jim Parker. International sales by All3Media international

Series 20, Episode 1: The Ghost of Causton Abbey:

https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2018/06/midsomer-murders-series-20-episode-1.html

See also:

http://midsomermurders.org/midsomer.htm
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/22/small-copper-butterfly-decline-survey