Tag Archives: Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Cinema-Maniac: Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission: Impossible 3 would mark the feature film debut of J.J. Abrams whom before this point worked on the small screen on series like Alias, and Lost. The former of which Tom Cruise binged watch, and made him offer the directing gig to him. Given the generally mix reaction of Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) would explain the six year wait between sequels, but the profit gained from MI 2 also ensured another installment in the franchise was always possible. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of this third outing is David Fincher almost directed the movie. However, he dropped out over creative differences. Like other before him, J.J. Abrams takes the mantle of the franchise providing his own spin on it exceeding where the two previous directors failed before him. Offering a story that will satisfy fans of the original, and providing blockbuster spectacles fans of the second outing expect into this entry.

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It’s time to come clean Hunt. Who’s Nyah?

Mission: Impossible 3 puts agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) into conflict with Owen Davian, a dangerous and sadistic arms dealer who threatens Hunt’s life and his fiancee in response. It might have taken three films, but here is where the series finally hit the mark on balancing its tone. Being neither too serious, or too over the top. Starting out strong with a great opening sequence that perfectly set up the stakes as well as serve as flash forward to were the viewer will eventually end up at. It’s a great hook that immediately gets the audience attention. Everything else that precedes the opening sequence does a fine job in the keep the viewer invested in showing Ethan Hunt personal life, banter between the team, some levity to prevent from being too serious, and some eventual mind games between our hero, and the villain. All this is done in its fast pace that never lingers too much on any scene. Being very streamlined in its storytelling while properly spacing out the action sequences infuse in itself as a blockbuster.

Another balance in the film is the handling of Ethan Hunt character. Making full use of not only his physical abilities, but also his intelligence in quickly thinking of a way out of a dangerous situation. Showing the audience him thinking on the spot to pull off a difficult task. Retaining his experience from the previous movie Ethan Hunt is still capable on the field, but you won’t see Hunt doing back flip kicks, or dodging bullets by taking cover on the side of his high speeding motorcycle with arm goons right behind him. With the addition of having someone to lose there’s a semblance of weight that returns to Ethan Hunt. Now that you know he has something to lose it makes those set pieces more engaging. A personal bonus I would say is the dialogue is a nice fusion of the serious story of the first one with a more tone nature of dialogue from the second film. Offering some memorable lines like the ones below to provide a few examples. Needless to say, the dialogue is on point.

Brassel: You can look at me with those judgmental eyes all you want, but I bullshit you not, I will bleed on the American flag to make sure those stripes stay red.

Luther: Look, I don’t mean to cross the line here, but was there something going on between you two? You and Lindsey?

Ethan: Lindsey was like my little sister.

Luther: And you’ve…never slept with your little sister? [Ethan stares at him again] Look brother, if I don’t ask you, who would?

Lindsey: I’m out, how many rounds have you got?

Ethan: [Checking his magazine] Enough.

[Ethan jumps out and fires in slow motion, killing the henchman with a single shot]

Ethan: [tosses the gun away] Now I’m out.

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Cruise keeps going, and going, and going….

The team dynamic is greatly improved from the previous entries. Hunt’s teammates are given roles in the operations with greater importance. Being more active in performing on the field, even computer expert Luther (Ving Rhames) becomes more of a active participant in the operations than he did before. Luther expanded role in this third outing works in favor for the film. Providing not only a character Hunt can open up to, but also provide levity to the story without coming across as a rewritten character. Most important of all, Luther gets the characterization he deserves finally given viewer more to his character. Instantly making Luther the most fleshed out recurring character in the series.

While the effort to humanize Ethan Hunt is admirable it also suffers the same issue that Mission: Impossible 2 suffered from; Ethan Hunt settling down with a wife comes across as rewriting the character instead of a natural change. There are a few scenes between Luther, and Ethan Hunt talking about their love life that try to remedy this. Luther provides insight on his failed relationship while not forgetting to mention why it likely won’t last. Hunt other team members tell him the same, but not quite as much as Luther does. This change doesn’t entirely work since Ethan Hunt is hardly shown being with his fiancee making the romance feel less genuine, and Hunts motivation to go back on active duty for the IMF is kept on a surface level. A person vendetta is enough to carry him, but not enough to justify why Hunt would actively put himself in riskier situations considering he loves that Julia reminds him of a life before IMF. In two instances, the movie overlooks details in order for the story to progress, and not come to a halt. Resulting in one escape sequence making you wonder how this voice changer was able to copy someone else’s voice so quickly when in a operation it took minutes to prepare. There’s also an operation in Shanghai which instead of seeing first hand will only witness the end result.

There’s also the return of a plot twist from the first movie, and it’s not the face mask usage that is the twist. It involves there being a traitor within IMF (again) which would have worked if the story better foreshadowed the twist. When the traitor is revealed, who it turns to be comes across convoluted within a film that is more narratively coherent than it predecessors. There’s also two new team members introduce in this movie, but unlike Luther, or Benji (Simon Pegg) who both manage to leave an impression despite their screen time the first time they appeared on screen. Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) don’t offer anything in the way of personalities. They simply go onboard with what Ethan, or the story says. Coming off as mechanical when movie tries to hint at some intimacy between Zhen, and Gormley. With the already mentioned of the mole in IMF being reused also expect disavowed agent Ethan Hunt, and saving the world last minute, but they remain a stable in the series, and reuse in later installments. So me criticizing part three for these conventions would be unfair, but everything else around these plot points is fair game. Especially the happy ending that attempts to overlook the fact that Hunt’s wife is just cool learning about her husband secret.

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Helicopter flying through flames. Pretty cool in my book

Tom Cruise delivers his best performance in the franchise in this outing finally giving Cruise the perfect material that offered him plenty of range missing from the previous two movies. Providing plenty of scenes where Tom Cruise gets to show Ethan Hunt more vulnerable side. In particular, his sequences with Michelle Monaghan you get to see Cruise at his more vulnerable, and most uncertain than he ever portrayed Ethan Hunt. It’s this reason the opening sequence has the great hook that it does. When carrying the weight on the drama Cruise delivers some great comedic banter between his co-stars. Delivering his comedic lines perfectly with his reactions. He also gets some great one liners, and he delivers making them sound cool, even if they are cheesy. As with the previous installment, when it comes to the action sequence Cruise looks just performing them as he is in the acting department. Yes, like in all his movies, you will eventually get to see a long take of Tom Cruise running in the movie. Very few actors can make running look as good as Tom Cruise.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the film villain, and hands down is the best actor who played a villian in the Mission Impossible franchise. He is everything you want in a good villain; snarky, ruthless, and all around intimidating in his delivery despite his appearance. The intensity in the scenes between Hoffman, and Cruise are the best bits of acting this series will provide. Just witnessing the two of them be able to deliver intensity into the movie in a matter of seconds is a sight to behold. Easily being the most memorable villain on just Hoffman acting abilities alone.

Ving Rhames role is graciously expanded upon. Proving reliable, like he has before, of being able to deliver comic relief just fine. Rhames is just a joy to see on screen. Simon Pegg who eventually becomes a mainstay makes his first appearance here, but has very little screen time. Like Ving Rhames before him in the first entry, Simon Pegg is able to make an impression, and feel like a natural fit in the series. His smooth delivery of his comedic lines, and making expository dialogue fun to listen through his energy is why he stayed around. Michelle Monaghan does mostly play a supportive role in the emotional sense, but does get to perform in the action in the climax. Her character doesn’t offer her much to do, but she makes it work.

Laurence Fishburne, and Billy Crudup also make appearances in the film in supporting roles. Fishburne comes out looking good in the movie, somehow making his wholly serious portrayal work even he’s poking fun of the other co-stars. Billy Crudup is also good, until the climax where he becomes hammy. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Maggie Q on the other hand are the weakest link in the cast. Neither of them try to provide their characters with any sort of personality. Making them come off as bland.

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This is fantastic scene in the movie. Easily a highlight

J.J. Abrams helming the results in action sequences in that movie lack complexity in their choreography, but more than makes up for it in other areas. For starter, there’s a lot more stunt work involved in the sequences. In my favorite moment of the movie you Tom Cruise hanging from the side of a car trying to shoot vehicle pursuing him, and his team. Resulting in the vehicle crashing into a truck. In another moment, Tom Cruise character only has a single bullet left in the chamber of his gun, shoots a person, and they fall out of window. Small instance of stunt work like these make the action sequence appear more eventful. Doing as much as possible to minimize the usage of CGI. There’s some shaky cam involve, but nothing to outrageous. However, there are the rare occasion where the camera visibly is readjusted to get the frame of the shot right.

The film’s first big set piece in a factory that moves to a helicopter chase sequence escalate things in a manner. Abrams always keep the audience inform in spite of the chaos of endless gunfire that follows. Keeping things simple enough to follow. As the film progresses, Abram is able to keep the action set pieces large in scale. There’s a fantastic sequence on a bridge that shows Abram ability to get inventive in isolated location. Unfortunately, when it comes time to finally have the climax it’s the film smallest set piece. Abrams tries to remedy this by having Tom Cruise get tossed around the set, and having break many props in the process. In terms of scale, it’s small fry compare to what came before it.

Michael Giacchino takes care of composing duty, and his original music works for the scene they’re used. It’s unlikely you’ll remember a single track from the movie that isn’t “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. Finally, yes this the last thing I’ll mention promise before ending this review. There’s a song called “Impossible” by Kanye West featuring Twista and Keyshia Cole which is an improvement over Limp Bizkit, but is also forgettable. That’s probably the reason why it wasn’t used in the opening credit sequence.

Mission: Impossible 3 successfully combines elements from it predecessors into a entertaining third outing. Providing a good story, great performances from lead actor Tom Cruise, and giving him a great villain to play of in Philip Seymour Hoffman, and delivering on its action set pieces. It’s a great action blockbuster that gives you what you expect, and a little bit more.

Rating: 8/10

Cinema-Maniac: Stonewall (2015)

In the early hours of June 28, 1968, began a series of violent demonstration by members of the LGBT community in Manhattan, New York City at the Stonewall Inn. These riots are the most famous, and often cited as the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement. Since the movie itself, even if taken as a work of pure fiction, doesn’t provide context for the significance of the Stonewall riots. Before Stonewall riots, incidents like the Portland Vice Scandal which basically forced sexual sterilization laws in Portland when nineteen-year-old Benjamin Trout revealed details about homosexual activity in the city. This would lead to police probing around the local area arresting anyone for simply being gay, or doing anything resembling gay activity. This was also many in the US first learned about homosexuality, and thus many profession would simply be able to fire you for being gay.

During one of the movie’s many misguided scene a character talks about serving in the Navy completely missing the opportunity to provide insight on history. For some reason, the scene doesn’t bother to even mention the mere existence of something called The Blue Discharge. What this basically did was get rid off gay soldiers, and stated in the GI Bill anyone with a Blue Discharge couldn’t receive any benefits during world war one, and world war two. Homosexuals had it rough during this era, but unfortunately something called the Red Scare post world war two included homosexuals on that list with this second wave being called the Lavender Scare. Assumed by many during the 1950s that homosexuals were more susceptible to blackmail. Ever met a person who thought the FBI, or government was after them? Well, if they were homosexual during the 1950s that’s exactly happened. The collective impact of these events would last decades, and wouldn’t be until the Stonewall riot that a swift in gay rights was reaching a turning point for gaining the rights they so desired.

This streamlined history of what homosexuals suffer before Stonewall is obviously too much for one movie cram into a single feature. However, it’s not impossible to provide some level of insight of these events, and the impact they made on society. A brief sequence, or snippets of dialogue dedicated to illustrating the pent up frustration some felt about this unfair treatment would have suffice. The Stonewall riot is set the piece were some finally had enough of being mistreated, and stood up for themselves. Sadly, you’ll learn more in these previous paragraphs about the significance the Stonewall riot than you will watching this movie. That is just sad on so many level. Only thing possibly sadder than that is simply calling this a bad movie ain’t doing justice how incompetent it is on nearly every conceivable level. Here’s a head scratcher before I go into the actual movie, apparently this was director Roland Emmerich passion project. You know, the director of Mel Gibson’s The Patriot (2000), and 10,000 BC (2008) which are consider some of the most historically inaccurate movies ever made.

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Brace yourself, it’s going to be a long one.

Stonewall follows the fictitious character of Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine), a small town teenager outcasted in Indiana by his own father moving to New York in the months leading up the Stonewall Inn riots. For starter, Danny is purely a work of fiction, and using him as surrogate is fine to establish the treatment society gave to homosexual during that time. However, that’s about all it gets right on that front, and even then it doesn’t go into details how badly homosexuals had it during this time. I already mentioned a few examples in my previous paragraphs so I’ll skip the rehash here. I will add that before we see any homosexuals receive any beating from police officers; Danny first introduction to Ray (Jonny Beauchamp), and his group by a multiracial group of young, gay, and genderfluid street kids and drag queens vandalizing the neighborhood! Why would the film thought you would sympathize with a group of teens, regardless of sexual orientation, and what they identify as, whom throw a brick at a store to steal a hat, and go out disrupting people in the neighborhood is beyond me. Forget the fact they’re homosexuals, if this is how Ray, and his friends regularly act no wonder nobody likes them.

With Danny being our lead character it means actual characters based around actual activists during this time get sideline in favor of a coming of age, and young love storyline. A questionable decision cemented in the fact that those fictional portions of the movie are terrible. Exploration of Danny coming to terms with his sexuality is absent from the film. He goes from being ashamed of it to embracing his sexuality just like that. There’s little to talk about Danny character in any tangible form. It relies too much on the idea of the era, and how those in the LGBT community were treated to bother developing its characters. Danny comes off more like Roland Emmerich self inserting himself into Danny, and being the one who started the Stonewall riots. A significant event in the movie that isn’t impactful; Danny, nor the audience know the true length politics held back LGBT people, and simply claiming it was bad during this time isn’t good enough when it think it’s a important film. There’s also Danny highschool love, which the audience doesn’t get to see blossom. Therefore, making it’s bittersweet message in the movie bring hollow since, you guessed it, hardly appears in the movie. 

When it comes to depicting romance this movie fails in that too. Every person Danny falls in love with are poorly defined as individual characters. Ray for instance, a love interest that Danny can’t love (Danny says this himself) is tonal whiplash. One scene has him crying to Danny telling him about how he got a beating, and how things won’t seem like they’ll ever change. Next scene, Ray wakes up getting angry at Danny for finding a flyer for a gay rights meeting in Danny pocket. Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is another one of these love interest with a confusing portrayal. Part of the blame can be taken by the bad direction, but in terms of writing he didn’t come off as unreasonable. Sure, Trevor cheating on him is justified in Danny hating him, but at the same time that’s about it. The relationship is so spontaneous, and rushed through feeling sorry for Danny is impossible. Trevor is established to be fighting for gay rights since his introduction, and all Danny cares about is his heart got broken despite the fact he experienced, and witness first hand the LGBT community face!

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This movie in one still; it’s not pretty to look at

Leading into Danny is boring. He doesn’t take an interest in the political side of gay rights rendering whatever mention of activism purely be lip service. All he seems to care about is making a good life for himself. As a badly written character you won’t know what he aspired to become, nor understand how heart he is that he seemingly can’t patch things up with his Christian father. Reminding me of another plot point. One of the few defining traits of Danny is he loves his family, but the movie hardly shows him communicating to them. Being more wrapped up in the events of New York, and finding other like him. This becomes a bigger issue in the ending when Danny’s mother shows up to a gay pride march when she didn’t speak much to her own son. You know, possibly using Danny mother to get across that acceptance is slow, but can come.

Now the biggest nail in the coffin for Danny is the film gives him the first throw in Stonewall shouting “Gay Power!”. A fictitious character who mostly mopes around about a broken hearts takes away something that real people experience by giving the first brick throw to him. This wouldn’t be an issue if some of the film’s characters weren’t based around real people. Instead of being empowering, it comes across as pure cheese, and at worst possible insult that a teenage boy started a riot that would be the big push towards gay right all because he was sexually frustrated.

On top of a terrible leading character, the film writing has characters that disappear for long periods of time. Only bringing them back when it’s stuck to generate conflict in an artificial way despite the fact the movie is based around true events. One of these character is Ed Murphy (Ron Pearlman, I’m shocked too) is just bad, and that’s about it. He appears in one scene, disappears, and sells Danny into sex slave. A topic that isn’t explored either among the other number things that aren’t explored.

If I even bother to break apart the many aspects of history it gets wrong there would be no feasible end in sight. I will pick on the fact Danny sister is happily accepting that her brother is gay. It’s the 1960s, and homophobia is rampant during this time. The most exposure that Danny’s sister would get of homosexuals would be primarily negative. Maybe Danny told his sister he was gay when he was younger, but no such thing exist, even in throwaway dialogue!

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One of the many joyful scenes of police brutality. Physical abuse is the main way this movie can generate sympathy.

It’s much quicker to run down it gets accurate like the sex work depiction that did happen, and the mention of mafias owning bars serving gay people is right. However, the whole sex slave plot point is pointless as it contributes nothing to the actual movie. It does have activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Bob Kohler, and Frank Kameny in the movie, but more as decorations than important characters. Downplaying their roles in gay rights activism, and relegating what their did into a brief text crawl at the end.

The closest the film ever gets to being humanized is a brief scene where Ray sleeps next to Danny in a crowded apartment. Ray goes on about a better life for them, and Danny pretends to be sleeping smiling of such prospect. It’s the most subtle the movie ever gets. Just one scene in a movie that slightly goes over two hours! Filled with stereotypes of LGBT of all being negatively flamboyant, or obnoxious. Doing just about nothing in that time to make viewer understand them. As a pure work of fiction it’s simplistic depiction of complicated real world issues works against it. Discrimination that LGBT people face, and the battle they face to get their rights is something that needs a mindful approach. Not just a “people mistreat us! Let’s riot, and we get our rights!” approach which is sadly an accurate way to summarize this movie. When taken as a historical film, well, mentioned earlier, simply implying the Stonewall one riot automatically gave LGBT their rights in the US is astonishingly stupid! It glosses over so many facts you’re simply better off reading books, or watching documentary on the subject of gay rights. This movie doesn’t understand what makes a good story in a fictitious sense so entrusting it to discuss real world issues beyond some minor details is beyond its capability.

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Gay power! Or attempted murder. Both work.

On a technical side it doesn’t fare any better either. Roland Emmerich is insecure about his direction that it’s difficult to read what exactly he wants the audience to feel. For instance, it would be nice to actually see Jeremy Irvine who portrays Danny to actually show him be comfortable sexually. Nearly all of Jeremy Irvine sexual encounters is played off as tragic. Inadvertently implying homosexuality is a something bad instead of a part of a person that feels natural to them.

His biggest misjudgment is his representation of LGBT characters. With the exception of Jeremy Irvine, every actor is either the stereotype flamboyant gay person, or evil. Having his actors overact every scene. Leaving no room for substance, especially the opening text that is meant to establish a harsh mood, but doesn’t because of the over acting. The color filtered makes things either too dark, or too yellow. Emmerich is unable to hide the cheap look of his sound stage. This one block in the movie is simply filmed in different angle, and takes you out of the illusion. Music choices are fine, but don’t do anything special. The original on the other hand, lack subtlety in its bomb static sound. As for the riot itself it’s pretty lame to see. Police push forward, and LGBT people slowly back off. That’s basically all that happens in the riot. Cars, and windows are destroyed I presume because of the sound effects, but this portion of the movie is poorly done.

Stonewall is a cinematic that gets nothing. As a work fiction it’s too simplistic on discussing complicated issues with poorly defined characters. As a historical film it gets so many things wrong viewers will leave with possibly less understanding on the significant on the Stonewall riot. It’s a movie that is meant to appeal to everyone, but will end up satisfying no one except for Emmerich who inserts himself into the lead character. There’s history worth remembering, and being proud off, yet this movie does everything it can to not capture that. Failing to understand people, the community it represents, and the history behind it.

Rating: 0/10