REVIEW: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

CAST

Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Emmanuelle Beart (8 Women)
Henry Czerny (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Ving Rhames (Julia X)
Kristin Scott Thomas (The Golden Compass)
Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement)
Emilio Estevez (Rated X)

Years after the events of the series, Jim Phelps and his team, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), attempt to retrieve the CIA non-official cover list from the American embassy in Prague. Their mission fails: Phelps is shot, his wife Claire dies in a car bombing, and the rest of the team except Ethan Hunt are eliminated by unknown assassins. Meeting with IMF director Eugene Kittridge, Hunt reveals his awareness of a second IMF team sent to monitor them, and learns the job was a setup to lure out a mole within IMF, who is believed to be working with an arms dealer known as “Max” as part of “Job 314.” As Hunt is the only member left, Kittridge suspects him of being the mole, and Hunt flees.Returning to the Prague safe house, Hunt realizes “Job 314” refers to Bible verse Job 3:14, “Job” being the mole’s code name. Claire arrives at the safe house, explaining she escaped the bomb after Phelps aborted the mission. Hunt arranges a meeting with Max, and warns her that the list she possesses has a tracking device. He promises to deliver the real list in return for $10 million and Job’s identity. Hunt, Max, and her agents escape just as a CIA team arrives.Hunt recruits two disavowed IMF agents: computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Franz Krieger. They infiltrate CIA headquarters in Langley, steal the real list, and flee to London. Kittridge, detecting the theft, has Hunt’s mother and uncle falsely arrested for drug trafficking. He provides media coverage of the arrest, forcing Hunt to contact him from Liverpool Street Station. Hunt allows the CIA to trace him to London before hanging up, but is surprised to find Phelps nearby. Phelps recounts surviving the shooting, naming Kittridge as the mole. Hunt realizes Phelps is the mole, having discovered that Phelps stole a Gideons Bible from a Chicago hotel. He also suspects Krieger as the one who killed the other IMF members on the Prague job, but is unsure whether Claire was involved. Hunt arranges with Max to exchange the list aboard the TGV train to Paris the next day.On the train, Hunt remotely directs Max to the list. Max verifies it and gives Hunt the code to a briefcase containing the payment along with Job in the baggage car. Ethan calls Claire and tells her to meet him there. Meanwhile, Stickell uses a jamming device to prevent Max from uploading the data to her servers. Claire reaches the baggage car, finds Phelps and tells him Ethan will arrive shortly. She questions the idea of killing Ethan, since they will need a fall guy for the money, when Phelps reveals himself to be Ethan in disguise, exposing her as a co-conspirator. When the real Phelps arrives and takes the money at gunpoint, Hunt dons a pair of video glasses that relays Phelps to Kittridge, blowing Phelps’ cover as the mole.Phelps threatens to kill Ethan, but shoots Claire instead when she intervenes. He climbs to the roof of the train, where Krieger is waiting with a helicopter and a tether. Hunt connects the tether to the train itself, forcing the helicopter into the Channel Tunnel after the train. Hunt places an explosive chewing gum on the helicopter windshield, killing Krieger and Phelps. Kittridge arrests Max and recovers the list, then reinstates Hunt and Stickell as IMF agents, but Hunt is unsure if he’ll accept. As he flies home, a flight attendant approaches him and asks, through a coded phrase, if he is ready to take on a new mission, just as she asked Phelps at the beginning.Fabulous cast, especailly strong support from Henry Czerny, Jean Reno and Jon Voight, and a great plot which alas was too complex for some but which weaves a web of deceit and intrigue as it unravels.

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REVIEW: LEON

CAST

Jean Reno (Mission: Impossible)
Gary Oldman (Batman Begins)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Danny Aiello (Do The Right Thing)
Peter Appel (Spider-Man)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Adam Busch (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)

Léon Montana (Jean Reno) is an Italian hitman (or “cleaner”, as he refers to himself) living a solitary life in New York City’s Little Italy. His work comes from a mafioso named Tony (Danny Aiello). Léon spends his idle time engaging in calisthenics, nurturing a houseplant, and watching old films.One day, Léon sees Mathilda Lando (Natalie Portman), a lonely twelve-year-old girl. Mathilda lives with her dysfunctional family in an apartment down the hall. Her abusive father and self-absorbed stepmother have not noticed that Mathilda stopped attending class at her school for troubled girls. Mathilda’s father (Michael Badalucco) attracts the ire of corrupt DEA agents, who have been paying him to stash cocaine in his apartment. After they discover he has been cutting the cocaine to keep for himself, DEA agents storm the building, led by sharply dressed drug addict Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). During the raid, Stansfield quickly becomes unhinged and murders Mathilda’s entire family while she is out shopping for groceries. When Mathilda returns, she realizes what has happened just in time to continue down the hall, where she desperately rings her neighbour’s door. A hesitant Léon gives her shelter.Mathilda quickly discovers that Léon is a hitman. She begs him to take care of her and to teach her his skills, as she wants to avenge the murder of her four-year-old brother. At first Léon is unsettled by her presence, but he eventually trains Mathilda and shows her how to use various weapons. In exchange, she runs his errands, cleans his apartment, and teaches him how to read. In time, the pair form a close bond. Mathilda often tells Léon she is in love with him, but he refuses to reciprocate. One day when Léon heads out for an apparent assignment, Mathilda fills a bag with guns from Léon’s collection and sets out to kill Stansfield. She bluffs her way into the DEA office by posing as a delivery girl, only to be ambushed by Stansfield in a bathroom. Mathilda learns from Stansfield that Léon killed one of the corrupt DEA agents in Chinatown that morning. Léon, after discovering her plan in a note left for him, rescues Mathilda, shooting two more of Stansfield’s men in the process. An enraged Stansfield confronts Tony, who is interrogated for Léon’s whereabouts.When Mathilda returns home from grocery shopping, an NYPD ESU team sent by Stansfield captures her and attempts to infiltrate Léon’s apartment. Léon ambushes the ESU team and rescues Mathilda. Léon creates a quick escape for Mathilda by smashing a hole in an air shaft; he then reassures her, tells her that he loves her, and thanks her for giving him “a taste for life”, moments before the police blow up the apartment. In the chaos that follows, Léon sneaks out of the building disguised as a wounded ESU officer; he goes unnoticed save for Stansfield, who follows him and shoots him in the back. As he is dying, Léon places an object in Stansfield’s hands that he says is “from Mathilda” before succumbing to his wounds; Stansfield discovers that it is a grenade pin. He then opens Léon’s vest to find a cluster of active grenades, which detonates and kills him.Mathilda goes to Tony, as Léon had instructed her to do before he died. Tony tells Mathilda he had been instructed by Léon to give his money to her if anything happened to him; he offers to hold it and provide the money on an allowance basis. Mathilda returns to school and meets the headmistress, who readmits her after Mathilda reveals what had happened to her. She then walks onto a field near the school to plant Léon’s houseplant, as she had told Léon he should, to “give it roots”.Maybe, probably, definitely the best hitman movie ever made and very well acted by all!

REVIEW: ALEX CROSS

CAST

Tyler Perry (Gone Girl)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Matthew Fox (Lost)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy)
Cicely Tyson (The Help)
Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Yara Shahidi (Salt)
Bonnie Bentley (21 & Over)
Stephanie Jacobsen (Terminator: TSCC)
Giancarlo Esposito (Son of Batman)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and the Furious)
Sayeed Shahidi (Switched at Birth)

Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a psychologist and police lieutenant who lives in Detroit with his wife Maria (Carmen Ejogo) and their children. After learning Maria is pregnant, Cross considers accepting a job as an FBI profiler. Meanwhile, a man (Matthew Fox) participates in an underground fighting match and seduces businesswoman Fan Yau (Stephanie Jacobsen). The man is invited to Yau’s house, where he kills her.At the crime scene, Cross finds a charcoal sketch left behind by the killer in the style of the artist Picasso, leading to the murderer being nicknamed after him. While examining the sketch, Cross deduces that Picasso’s next target is German businessman Erich Nunemarcher (Werner Daehn). Picasso attempts to kill Nunemarcher but is foiled by Cross, and escapes after being shot by Cross’s partner Tommy Kane (Edward Burns). Cross deduces that Picasso also plans to target billionaire CEO Giles Mercier (Jean Reno).As revenge for foiling his attack on Nunemarcher, Picasso attacks Cross and Kane’s colleague, Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), torturing her to death. Picasso then tracks down Cross, who is on a date with Maria, and kills her with a sniper rifle. Picasso targets Nunemarcher and Mercier at a conference, killing Nunemarcher and seemingly Mercier. Cross and Kane track Picasso to the abandoned Michigan Theater. As Cross and Picasso fight, they fall through the crumbling theater ceiling. Picasso falls to his death, but Kane helps pull Cross to safeCross deduces Picasso’s employer was Mercier himself. Having embezzled money from his clients, Mercier asked for Yau and Nunemarcher’s help to fake his death and flee to Bali, then hired Picasso to eliminate them and a double pretending to be the real Mercier. After Cross frames Mercier for drug smuggling, Mercier is arrested in Indonesia, where he will be condemned to death by firing squad. Having avenged Maria’s murder, Cross decides to accept the job offer from the FBI and move to Washington with his family.The leads save this movie from being a total bomb. I was admittedly entertained for a good portion of the movie despite its dialogue. None of it is inventive or new; it’s just your run-of-the-mill murder mystery that is low on thrills and high on cheese. Worth a one time watch if it’s on TV or something, but really the main thing you’ll remember from Alex Cross is the criminally wasted talent.

REVIEW: COUPLES RETREAT

CAST
Vince Vaughn (Old School)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Faizon Love (torque)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Kristin Davis (Bad Teacher TV)
Kali Hawk (New Girl)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Temuera Morrison (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Dave (Vince Vaughn), a dealer for Guitar Hero, and Ronnie (Malin Åkerman), a stay-at-home mom, are a typical couple raising two young children in the suburbs of Chicago. They experience various stresses including redecorating their house and raising their kids. Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) are high school sweethearts with a smart but naive teenage daughter named Lacey. Their relationship is on the rocks and they are even considering a divorce once Lacey goes off to college. Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are a neurotic couple who’ve experienced multiple failed attempts to conceive, and Shane (Faizon Love), who has recently separated from his wife, has a much younger twenty-year-old girlfriend, Trudy (Kali Hawk).
At Dave’s son’s birthday party, Jason and Cynthia, using PowerPoint, announce their troubled marriage and they are considering divorce because they cannot have a baby. As a last-ditch effort, they have found a couples therapy resort named Eden. A deal called the Pelican Package is half the normal cost if they can get three other couples to join them. In their presentation, they show beautiful pictures of sunlit beaches and beautiful locations. They also assure the others that the couples therapy is purely optional. Dave and Ronnie discuss their inability to go because of childcare responsibilities and decline the trip. In the middle of the night, their home security alarm is activated when Jason shows up unexpectedly to further sell the idea of the retreat. The commotion wakes the kids, who have overheard their parents’ conversations of not being able to go because of them. Fearing that their parents are contemplating divorce, the kids have already arranged for Dave’s father, Grandpa Jim-Jim (played by Vince Vaughn’s real-life father, Vernon Vaughn) to babysit so their parents can go to Eden.
The retreat proves to be divided into Eden West and Eden East. West is for couples and uses the tagline “Stay Together”. East is for singles and uses the tagline “Come Together”. East and West attendees are not allowed to intermingle. Upon arrival at Eden West, the four couples are shown their villas. At dinner, Sctanley [sic] (pronounced “Stanley”), the resort host (Peter Serafinowicz), informs them that couples therapy, which starts at 6 a.m., is actually mandatory. If any couple fails to attend, it will be taken as an indication that they want to leave, and a refund for Eden will be given, although not for their airfare. The group debates what to do. After an indulgent dinner with many delicacies, they decide to put up with “a couple of hours” of therapy in order to enjoy the other amenities of the resort.
In the morning, each couple meets with an assigned therapist. All four couples learn that they have problems, even Ronnie and Dave, who thought they were fine. They endure resort owner Marcel’s (Jean Reno) unusual methods, including swimming with and feeding lemon sharks and yoga sessions with amorous instructor Salvadore (Carlos Ponce). On the fourth night, Trudy escapes to Eden East. The other seven, encouraged by Joey who is unsatisfied with his marriage, leave to find her. Following an argument between Cynthia and Jason, the men and women split up. As they try to find their way to the resort, the men end up arguing and pointing out each others’ marriage mistakes.
The women run into Salvadore who takes them to Eden East. The men come across the staff lounge where they find Sctanley playing Guitar Hero. He threatens to report them to Marcel, but Dave challenges him to the game (without telling Sctanley that he is involved in the game’s production). Sctanley, after having lost the wager, directs them to Eden East, even though he knows he was tricked by Dave. When they arrive, Dave realizes what a good thing he has with Ronnie. He goes with her to be alone at a waterfall. Joey finds Lucy with Salvadore and knocks him out, reuniting with his wife. Cynthia and Jason share drinks and end up becoming intimate. Shane runs into his ex-wife, who admits she still loves him. Shane tells Trudy to remain in Eden East and enjoy being single, then leaves with his ex-wife. All four couples return to Eden West. Marcel, seeing that the couples have worked out their problems, frees them from the therapy and allows them to go jet skiing, and with that, really enjoy the rest of their vacation.
Hilarious film, great cast and beautiful surroundings for it to be filmed in. A Feel good film