REVIEW: GOD’S POCKET

CAST

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class)
Domenick Lombardozzi (Sneaky Pete)
John Turturro (The Good Shepherd)
Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes)
Molly Price (Third Watch)

Actor turned director John Slattery brings his trademark black humor and cynicism from his Mad Men role (and effective helming of occasional episodes) to the big screen with the successfully offbeat God’s Pocket, a faithful adaptation of Pete Dexter’s 1983 novel about the Lower Depths of a Philly neighborhood. Clearly not for all tastes.Slattery shows great confidence in never explicitly referring to the film’s time frame (’80s) -there are no superimposed Time Cards, no narration, just the period clothing, cars and old rotary telephones to indicate we’re watching a period piece. Hoffman is cast as an outsider in the Philadelphia slum cynically known as God’s Pocket, married to the glamorous Christina Hendricks, living with her nutty and self- destructive son.

Hoffman’s partner in crime is skillfully etched by John Turturro, who like Hoffman is a gambling addict. They are more in danger from The Mob than the police due to their inevitable debts arising from playing the ponies, and Turturro’s pipe dreams of owning a race horse some day.

The ensuing comedy of errors gives Slattery the opportunity to distract and surprise the viewer with unexpected turns of events and shocks. Themes of the story, personal to author Dexter and drawn from his stint as a reporter in Philly, are brought out by the nearly washed-up columnist effortlessly played by Richard Jenkins. His adulterous romance with Hendricks’ character is unbelievable, but Hendricks does lend her ambiguity and nuance known to her legion of fans from Mad Men’s Joan to almost make it work.

Dealing with the venal undertaker Eddie Marsan, Hoffman descends into strange and uncomfortable black comedy dealing with the “body removal” antics involving his stepson, treated by Slattery using a flashback structure that may or may not have been the best choice for storytelling. Various violent outbursts lead to a coda which almost parodies happy endings.

Critics generally dismissing God’s PocketT are clearly entitled to their opinions, but miss the point. Like the great B movies of the ’40s and ’50s (including films noirs), many of which have lived on to entertain future generations of movie buffs who have little time or patience for the big-budget blockbusters (and Oscar-bait) of that era, Slattery has crafted a character-driven, idiosyncratic entertainment that is out of step with current trends.

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REVIEW: DOUBT

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Alice Drummond (Ghostbusters)
Audrie J. Neenan (Funny Farm)
Carrie Preston (Duplicity)
John Costelloe (Die Hard 2)
Helen Stenborg (Another World)

Set in 1964 at a Catholic church in The Bronx, New York, the film opens with the jovial Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) giving a sermon on the nature of doubt, noting that like faith, doubt can be a unifying force. The next evening, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), the strict principal of the parish school, discusses the sermon with her fellow nuns, the Sisters of Charity of New York. She asks if anyone has observed unusual behavior that would inspire Father Flynn to preach about doubt, and instructs them to keep their eyes open should any such behavior occur in the future. Sister James (Amy Adams), a young and naive teacher, observes the closeness between Father Flynn and Donald Miller, an altar boy and the school’s only black student. One day during class, Sister James receives a call asking for Donald Miller to meet Father Flynn in the rectory. When he returns, Donald is distraught and Sister James notices the smell of alcohol on his breath. Later, while her students are learning a dance in the gymnasium, she sees Father Flynn placing a white shirt in Donald’s locker. She decides to report her suspicions to Sister Aloysius.Under the pretext of discussing the upcoming school Christmas pageant, Sisters Aloysius and (to a lesser extent) James voice their suspicions that Father Flynn’s relationship with Donald may be inappropriate. Several times, Father Flynn asks them to leave the matter alone as a private issue between the boy and himself, but Sister Aloysius persists. Finally, he is pressured into admitting that Donald had been caught drinking altar wine, and he had promised Donald not to tell anyone about the incident. Having now been forced to break that promise and reveal the truth, he will need to dismiss Donald as an altar boy, which he had been trying to avoid. Before leaving, Father Flynn tells Sister Aloysius he is displeased with her handling of the situation. His next sermon regards gossip and how it is easily spread. Initially, Sister James is relieved and convinced of Father Flynn’s innocence, but Sister Aloysius’ belief that Flynn has behaved inappropriately with Donald is unshakable. Later, Sister James asks Father Flynn about the shirt he put in Donald’s locker, an observation she had hidden from Sister Aloysius. Flynn explains that the boy had left the shirt in the sacristy, and that he had put it back in the locker himself, instead of giving it back to him directly, to spare the boy additional embarrassment. Flynn goes on to explain that it is he, not Sister Aloysius, that really cares about the boy, and that Sister James shouldn’t let others tell her that the light in her is wrong. Flynn reminds Sister James that their savior taught love, and Sister James who has just received a letter from her sick brother appears to interpret Flynn’s love for Donald as fraternal. Sister James tells Flynn that she doesn’t believe the allegations.Sister Aloysius meets with Donald Miller’s mother regarding her suspicions. Mrs. Miller (Viola Davis) shocks Sister Aloysius with her lack of interest in the alleged misconduct on Father Flynn’s part. As far as she is concerned, Donald need only last to the end of the school year, as graduation from a prestigious church school would increase his chances of going to a decent high school. It is hinted that Donald is homosexual and revealed that his father is abusive, with the dialogue between them indicating that the father’s anger is fueled by his son’s effeminacy. Mrs. Miller begs that Sister Aloysius drop the matter, feeling that Father Flynn is a source of inspiration to Donald and a shield from the abuse he receives at home. She becomes angry when Sister Aloysius refuses to compromise and threatens to throw Donald out of the school. Mrs. Miller believes that Donald would be punished for a thing of which he was not the cause.

Despite having no evidence and no support from anyone, Sister Aloysius again confronts Father Flynn and demands that he tell her the truth. Otherwise, she will go to the Bishop. Father Flynn is adamant that there is no illicit relationship, but Sister Aloysius claims that she has learned that he has a history of problems, having moved to three different parishes in the last five years. She tells him that she has contacted a nun from one of his prior churches (she refuses to say whom), who corroborated her suspicions. Father Flynn is furious that she has contacted a nun rather than the church pastor, which is proper church protocol. Sister Aloysius tells him he doesn’t deserve to wear the collar, and asks for his resignation. Unable to stand up to her, he succumbs to her demands.

Following his final sermon, Father Flynn steps down from the pulpit and shakes hands with the members of the congregation. Some time later, Sisters Aloysius and James are sitting together in the church garden. Sister Aloysius tells Sister James that although Father Flynn resigned, the bishop has appointed him to pastor at a larger church with a parochial school, in essence promoting him to a more prestigious position and perpetuating the same issue with Father Flynn. She then admits she lied about speaking to a nun at Father Flynn’s former church, and thus drove him out with no more than her suspicions. Her justification is that if Father Flynn truly were innocent of wrongdoing, he would not have resigned. Repeating a line from earlier in the film, Sister Aloysius says that “in the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God.” Sister Aloysius concludes that she has paid a price in pursuing the wrongdoing of Father Flynn. While discussing her inability to fully expose Father Flynn and have him dismissed from the diocese as a whole, she reflects upon her larger faith in the Church as she breaks down in tears and says to Sister James: “I have doubts…I have such doubts.” The film ends with Sister James comforting Sister Aloysius as the church plays The First Noel.1024x1024The story is ostensibly a sort of ‘whodunnit’? (or rather ‘did-he-do-it’?) in regards to allegations of innappropriate relations with children but on a deeper level probes further into the nature of faith in an ever-changing and increasingly secularised world. Is Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character a sexual predator or merely a misunderstood victim? is Meryl Streep’s character an overzealous gossip or true believer? there is indeed doubt. The film does not underestimate the intelligence of the audience and allows for several interpretations. Thought-provoking, engrossing and well-acted by a strong cast. A film that is well worth a watch.

REVIEW: CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR

 

CAST

Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Christopher Denham (Duplicity)
Emily Blunt (Into The Woods)
Omn Purri (London Dreams)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
John Slattery (Ant-Man)
Denis O’Hare (Derailed)
Daniel Eric Gold (Ugly Betty)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Rachel Nichols (Conan The Barbarian)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Shiri Appleby (Roswell)
Cyia Batten (Killer Movie)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)

In 1980, Congressman Charlie Wilson is more interested in partying than legislating, frequently throwing huge galas and staffing his congressional office with young, attractive women. His social life eventually brings about a federal investigation into allegations of his cocaine use, conducted by federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani as part of a larger investigation into congressional misconduct. The investigation results in no charge against Charlie.

A friend and romantic interest, Joanne Herring, encourages Charlie to do more to help the Afghan people, and persuades Charlie to visit the Pakistani leadership. The Pakistanis complain about the inadequate support of the U.S. to oppose the Soviet Union, and they insist that Charlie visit a major Pakistan-based Afghan refugee camp. Charlie is deeply moved by their misery and determination to fight, but is frustrated by the regional CIA personnel’s insistence on a low key approach against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Charlie returns home to lead an effort to substantially increase funding to the mujahideen.

As part of this effort, Charlie befriends maverick CIA operative Gust Avrakotos and his understaffed Afghanistan group to find a better strategy, especially including a means to counter the Soviets’ formidable Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This group was composed in part of members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, including a young paramilitary officer named Michael Vickers. As a result, Charlie’s deft political bargaining for the necessary funding and Avrakotos’ careful planning using those resources, such as supplying the guerrillas with FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, turns the Soviet occupation into a deadly quagmire with their heavy fighting vehicles being destroyed at a crippling rate. The CIA’s anti-communism budget evolves from $5 million to over $500 million (with the same amount matched by Saudi Arabia), startling several congressmen. This effort by Charlie ultimately evolves into a major portion of the U.S. foreign policy known as the Reagan Doctrine, under which the U.S. expanded assistance beyond just the mujahideen and began also supporting other anti-communist resistance movements around the world. Charlie states that senior Pentagon official Michael Pillsbury persuaded President Ronald Reagan to provide the Stingers to the Afghans.

Charlie follows Gust’s guidance to seek support for post-Soviet occupation Afghanistan, but finds no enthusiasm in the government for even the modest measures he proposes. In the end, Charlie receives a major commendation for his support of the U.S. clandestine services, but his pride is tempered by his fears of the blowback his secret efforts could yield in the future and the implications of U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan.
Charlie Wilson’s War is a very good film in my opinion, that is compelling, clever and entertaining.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Josh Hutcherson (The Forger)
Liam Hemsworth (Knowing)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Julianne Moore (Freedomland)
Willow Shields (beyond The Blackboard)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Mahershala Ali (Alphas)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Jeffrey wright (Source Code)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Robert Knepper (Heroes)
April Grace (Lost)

Katniss Everdeen is recovering after being attacked by Peeta Mellark, who has been brainwashed by the Capitol. The rebels attack and disable the Capitol’s weapons arsenal in District 2. Katniss tries to rally the loyalists against the Capitol, but is shot and injured in the confrontation. Despite Katniss’ desire to kill President Snow personally, Alma Coin refuses to allow her into battle. At Finnick and Annie’s wedding, Johanna Mason suggests Katniss sneak aboard a supply ship leaving for the Capitol, where Commander Paylor is planning an invasion. Unable to bring her back, Coin has her assigned to the “Star Squad”, led by Boggs and includes Gale, Finnick, Cressida, Messalla, Castor, Pollux, Jackson, the Leeg twins, Mitchell, and Homes; they will follow in relative safety behind the actual invasion of the Capitol providing video of their incursion for propaganda purposes. Boggs carries a holographic map (the “Holo”) to help them evade known booby trapped “pods” which line the streets of the Capitol. Coin also sends Peeta to join the squad, even though he has not fully recovered from the Capitol’s conditioning.

As they venture deeper into the Capitol, Boggs triggers a pod which sets off a land mine and mortally wounds him, and transfers command of the Holo to Katniss before dying. The squad triggers another pod, which releases a flood of lethal black tar. Peeta momentarily succumbs to his conditioning and attacks Katniss, pushing Mitchell into the tar and killing him. The group takes shelter in an abandoned building, where Jackson, the second-in-command, attempts to commandeer the Holo, until Katniss convinces them she is under secret orders from Coin to kill Snow. Katniss and most of the group escape just before a squad of Peacekeepers arrive and destroy the building, killing the Leeg twins. The Capitol broadcasts a message announcing Katniss’s death, which is interrupted by Coin, who delivers an impassioned eulogy for her, to rally the rebels.

The team descends into the Capitol’s sewers to avoid further pods, but they are attacked by a horde of genetically engineered creatures called “mutts”. Jackson, Castor, and Homes are killed as the squad flees through the sewers. Finnick is overwhelmed as he fights off the swarm to allow the team to escape, forcing Katniss to set the Holo’s self-destruct, killing him and the remaining mutts. The surviving team members reach the surface but are chased by Peacekeepers, and Messalla is killed by a pod that melts and disintegrates him. The team takes refuge in a shop, where Tigris, a former Hunger Games stylist and rebel sympathizer, hides them in her basement.

As rebel forces gain ground, Snow invites fleeing Capitol citizens into his mansion for protection. Katniss and Gale join the crowd, posing as refugees to gain access to Snow. Rebels arrive and attack, killing many in the crossfire. In the chaos, Katniss pushes forward to Snow’s mansion, where Peacekeepers are herding Capitol children toward the closed gates. A hovercraft flies overhead, and drops small parcels by parachute into the pen of children. The parcels explode, killing them. A team of rebel medics attempt to help the injured, among whom is Katniss’s sister Prim. A second wave of bombs detonate, killing Prim and knocking Katniss unconscious. Upon recovering, Katniss learns the Capitol has been conquered, and Snow captured. When Katniss confronts Snow, he claims that Coin orchestrated the bombing outside his mansion to turn his soldiers against him. Katniss realizes that the incident resembles a trap that Gale had developed earlier. When Gale is unable to assure Katniss that the bombs were not of his design, Katniss cuts all ties with him. Coin invites the remaining Hunger Games victors to vote on a proposal to have another Hunger Games using the children of the Capitol, as a symbolic gesture to satisfy the districts. Katniss swings the vote in favor, in exchange for the right to execute Snow personally.

At the execution, Katniss shoots and kills Coin instead of Snow. The rebels take Katniss into custody, while Snow is tortured and killed by the angry mob. Katniss is eventually pardoned for her crime and returns to District 12, where she is joined by Peeta, who has recovered from his conditioning. Commander Paylor is elected the new President of Panem, and Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch bond over their shared trauma. Years later, Katniss and Peeta play with their two children, as Katniss contemplates the nightmares of her past, and somberly reflects that “there are much worse games to play.”

The special effects are amazing, and the film gripped me throughout. There are some chilling and sad moments and with some twists along the way. Music from previous films is used to powerful effect. Jennifer Lawrence puts in an incredible performance as Katniss, and there are other strong performances from the cast. I was sad to see this end series, but feel everyone involved can be incredibly proud of what has been achieved. An outstanding and thought provoking finale.

REVIEW: ALONG CAME POLLY

CAST

Ben Stiller (Dodgeball)
Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It..)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Debra Messing (The Wedding Date)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Hank Azaria (The SImpsons)
Bryan Brown (Australia)
Jsu Garcia (A Nightmare On Elm Street0
Michele Lee (Knots Landing)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Missi Pyle (Big Fish)
Kevin  Hart (Ride Along)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)

Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller), an insurance actuary, is celebrating his honeymoon with newlywed wife, Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing), on the island of St. Barts, but catches her having sex with Claude (Hank Azaria), a French scuba instructor. Returning home to New York alone, he attempts to piece his life back together. Reuben goes to an art gallery with his friend, Sandy Lyle (Philip Seymour Hoffman), where he runs into former junior high school classmate Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston).

Reuben and Polly begin dating, with her introducing him to activities he once wrote off as “too risky”, such as eating at a Moroccan restaurant and salsa dancing, which culminates with the pair enthusiastically sleeping together, with Reuben shouting “50” as he orgasms. The contrast between their two personalities is a source of comedy throughout the film until Lisa returns and tells him she wants to reconcile their relationship. Meanwhile, Sandy, a self-centered, former teen idol, is trying to make a comeback by having a documentary filmed about his starring role as Judas in an amateur production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Reuben is torn between the free-spirited Polly and the safe and familiar Lisa. To solve this issue, he enters information about Polly and Lisa into a computer insurance program which measures risk. The computer tells him that, despite his numerous blunders with her, Polly is the best choice for him. Polly joins Reuben on a sailing trip he is going on, to inspect Leland Van Lew (Bryan Brown), a high-risk client, but gets offended when she sees his risk analysis of herself and rejects his proposal to move in together, telling him that he would be better off going back to Lisa.

Back home, Reuben tries talking to Polly, but to no avail. He eventually invites Lisa to Sandy’s opening show, where he learns that Polly is leaving New York for Cincinnati in a few hours. After a speech given by his father, Irving (Bob Dishy), to Sandy about not living in the past, Reuben realizes he wants to be with Polly and not Lisa, and he rushes to her apartment to stop her from leaving. Polly is not convinced she should stay with him, so Reuben eats food off the ground to prove he is capable of taking risks.  Reuben and Polly go on holiday to the same beach where Lisa and he had their honeymoon. Reuben again encounters Claude, but instead of being angry, he thanks Claude, and then heads into the water with Polly to join Van Lew on his new boat.

Along Came Polly was an entertaining film, but just wasn’t an amazing one. Ben Stiller has made some good films in the past. However I thought that the plot was a little weak. I think Ben Stiller’s character should have played out to a larger extent, the fact that he analysed every situation no matter how trivial. I really did not see much point in the ferret! And the romance which was the main feature of the film did not really bowl you over either. The film itself was actually very short aswell. Overall it is a film worth seeing but not one you will particulary want to see again or one you will particularly remember

 

REVIEW: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 1-4

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)
Several years after the events of the series, Jim Phelps and his team, the Impossible Missions Force, are assigned to retrieve the IMF non-official cover list from the American embassy in Prague. Their mission fails: Phelps is shot point blank, his wife Claire dies in a car bombing, and the rest of the team except agent Ethan Hunt are eliminated by an unknown assassin. Meeting later with IMF director Eugene Kittridge, Hunt learns the job was a setup designed to lure out a mole within IMF, whom IMF believes to be in contact 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, with “Job” as 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, where he warns her that the list she possesses has a tracking device that will lure the CIA there, and promises to deliver the real list for $10 million and the identity of Job. 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, Virginia, steal the real list, and flee to London. Kittridge detects the theft and has Hunt’s mother and uncle falsely arrested for drug trafficking; he provides wide media coverage of it, forcing Hunt to call Kittridge. Hunt times the call to allow the CIA to trace him to London before hanging up, but when he is done, Hunt is surprised to find Phelps nearby. Phelps recounts how he survived the shooting, naming Kittridge as the mole who set them up in Prague. Though he verbally agrees, Hunt realizes Phelps is the mole and Max’s “Job”. Hunt also suspects Krieger as the assassin of the other IMF members on the Prague job, but remains unsure whether Claire was involved. Hunt arranges with Max to exchange the list aboard the TGV high-speed train to Paris the next day.
On the train, Hunt remotely directs Max to the list. Max verifies the list and gives Hunt the keycode to a briefcase containing his 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. When Claire reaches the baggage car, she finds Phelps, and tells him Ethan will arrive shortly. She questions whether killing Ethan is a good idea, since they’ll need a fall guy for the money. To Claire’s surprise, Phelps reveals himself to be Ethan in disguise, exposing her as a co-conspirator. Moments later, the real Phelps arrives and takes the money at gunpoint. Hunt dons a pair of video glasses that relays Phelps’ existence to Kittridge, proving Hunt innocent of being Job and the mole.
With his cover blown, Phelps tries to kill Ethan but Claire intervenes and Phelps kills her for sleeping with Hunt in London. He then tries to escape with the money by climbing to the roof of the train, where Krieger is waiting with a helicopter with a tether. Hunt and Phelps fight atop the speeding train. At one point, Hunt connects the tether to the train itself, forcing Krieger to pilot the helicopter into Channel Tunnel after the train. Hunt places a piece of explosive chewing gum — a relic of the Prague mission — on the outside of Krieger’s helicopter windshield, killing Phelps and Krieger. Aboard the train, Kittridge arrests Max and recovers the list before it can be sent. Afterward, Kittridge reinstates Hunt and Stickell as IMF agents, but Hunt resigns. 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.
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.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Rain Man)
Dougray Scott (Enigma)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Ving Rhames (Entrapment)
Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
William Mapother (Swordfish)
Dominic Purcell (The Flash 2014)
Ethan Hunt, while vacationing, is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist Russian bio-chemical expert Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old friend of Ethan, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver a new bioweapon, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon, both of which he was forced to develop by Biocyte, into the IMF’s hands. With his death, IMF is worried that the virus is out in the open, believing that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover it. Ethan is told that he can use two members of his team to help him, but the third person to help him must be Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain, as she will be able to get close to Ambrose, being an ex-girlfriend.
After recruiting Nyah, Ethan meets his team, computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Billy Baird, in Sydney, Australia, where Biocyte laboratories are located along with Ambrose’s headquarters. As Ethan and the others stake out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to work him for information related to the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose quietly meets with Biocyte’s CEO, John C. McCloy, and shows him a video of the Chimera virus affecting one of Nekhorvich’s colleagues, taken from Biocyte, so he can blackmail McCloy into cooperating with them. Nyah is able to pocket the video footage long enough to transfer it to Ethan and his team, who learn that the Chimera virus has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death through mass destruction of the victim’s red blood cells. Bellerophon can save the victim only if used within that 20-hour window.
The IMF team kidnaps McCloy and learns that Nekhorvich had actually injected himself with Chimera, the only way he could smuggle the virus from Biocyte, and had all the known samples of Bellerophon, now presently in Ambrose’s hands. Ambrose had forced McCloy to sell him the virus for £37,000,000 in exchange for the samples of Bellerophon. Ethan’s team plans to break into Biocyte and destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing Ethan’s plan. Ambrose secures Nyah and prepares to raid Biocyte himself to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose interrupts him, and a firefight ensues. Ethan learns that Ambrose is holding Nyah and stops firing, during which Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample. When she does so, she injects herself with it, thus preventing Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. As Ambrose takes Nyah and Ethan escapes from the laboratory in the ensuing gun battle between Ambrose’s men and Biocyte security, Ethan starts a 20-hour countdown before the virus takes over Nyah’s body.
Ambrose opts to let Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to trigger a Chimera pandemic in Australia, and orders McCloy to effectively hand over enough control of Biocyte to make him the majority shareholder; Ambrose’s plan is now to make a fortune when prices of Biocyte’s stock skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon. Ethan’s team is able to locate and infiltrate the meeting, stealing the samples of Bellerophon while taking out many of Ambrose’s men. Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. As the two IMF agents bring Nyah to Ethan, he and Ambrose engage in a fist fight. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Ethan finally gains the upper hand over Ambrose and kills him, and Luther injects Nyah with Bellerophon. IMF clears Nyah’s criminal record, and Ethan continues his vacation with her in Sydney.
If you like Mission Impossible then you’ll not be disappointed with this action packed film and if you have the others in this series then you’ll appreciate the efforts put in to improve plots, characters and special effects but each one for their time and budget stand on their own.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon)
Ving Rhames (Dark Blue)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Keri Russell (Dawn of The Planet of the Apes)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Simon Pegg (Shaun of The Dead)
Eddie Marsan (Hancock)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ethan Hunt has retired from field work for the IMF and instead trains new recruits while settling down with his fiancée, Julia Meade, a nurse who is unaware of Ethan’s true job. Ethan is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethan’s protégés, Lindsey Farris, who was captured while investigating arms dealer Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell.
The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee via helicopter, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindsey’s head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF Director Theodore Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.
IMF technician Benji Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital’s chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.
On the flight back to the U.S., Davian threatens to kill Ethan and his loved ones. Ethan then threatens to drop Davian out of the plane, during which Davian overhears Luther calling Ethan by his first name. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that she believes Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is suddenly attacked, and Davian escapes. Fearing for Julia’s safety, Ethan races to the hospital, only to find she has already been taken. Davian gives Ethan 48 hours to recover the Rabbit’s Foot in exchange for Julia’s life, but Ethan is soon captured by the IMF.
Musgrave takes part in Ethan’s interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit’s Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan and his team raid the building where the Rabbit’s Foot is secured, and inform Davian that they have the Rabbit’s Foot. Ethan, delivering the Rabbit’s Foot alone, is forced to take a tranquilizer. As he comes to, he realizes a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian apparently holding Julia at gunpoint (the full scene opens the movie). Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit’s Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves.
Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed by Davian was not Julia, but Davian’s head of security in a mask, executed for failing to protect Davian in Vatican City. The Julia-mask was used to force Ethan to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbit’s Foot. The real Julia is alive and held as Davian’s hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, having arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit’s Foot to sell to a terrorist group so the IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike. Musgrave asks Ethan about the microdot Lindsey sent, wanting to know if Lindsay had compromised him. To convince Ethan to cooperate, Musgrave dials his phone for Ethan to hear Julia’s voice to confirm she is alive. Ethan bites on Musgrave’s hand and knocks him unconscious, freeing himself, and uses Musgrave’s phone (with Benji’s help) to track down the location of Musgrave’s last call. Ethan finds Davian and pushes him into the path of a truck, but not before Davian triggers the countdown of the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, Ethan instructs her to electrocute him in order to deactivate the explosive, and then revive him. He also instructs her in using a gun for her protection. While reviving Ethan, Julia fatally shoots Musgrave. She successfully revives Ethan, and he explains his true IMF career to her.
Back in the U.S., Brassel congratulates Ethan Hunt as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia. Ethan is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he will tell Ethan what the Rabbit’s Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.
Tom Cruise on top form, great stunts, edge of seat movie well paced and kept my interest throughout can recommend highly.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Legend)
Paula Patton (Deja Vu)
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Léa Seydoux (Spectre)
Ving Rhames (Julia X)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
In Budapest to intercept a courier working for an individual code-named “Cobalt”, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is killed by assassin Sabine Moreau. Hanaway’s team leader, Jane Carter, and newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn extract Ethan Hunt and his source, Bogdan, from a Moscow prison. Ethan is recruited to lead Jane and Benji to infiltrate secret Moscow Kremlin archives and locate files identifying Cobalt. During the mission, someone broadcasts across the IMF frequency, alerting the Russians to Ethan’s team. Although Benji and Jane escape, a bomb destroys the Kremlin and SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov arrests Ethan, suspecting him as a key player in the attack.
The IMF Secretary extracts Ethan from Moscow and informs him that the Russians have called the attack an undeclared act of war, forcing the U.S. President to initiate “Ghost Protocol”, a black operation contingency that disavows the IMF. Ethan and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but will be allowed to escape from government custody in order to track down Cobalt. Before Ethan can escape, the Secretary is killed by Russian security forces led by Sidorov, leaving Hunt and intelligence analyst William Brandt to find their own way out. Brandt identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist[8] who plans to start a nuclear war. Hendricks bombed the Kremlin in order to acquire a Russian nuclear launch-control device; however, he now needs the activation codes from the Budapest courier in order to launch nuclear missiles at the United States.
The exchange between Moreau and Hendricks’ right-hand man, Wistrom, is due to take place in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. There, Ethan’s team separately convince Moreau and Wistrom that they have made the exchange with one another. However, Moreau identifies Brandt as an agent. While Ethan chases Wistrom—only to realize that he is actually Hendricks in disguise, allowing him to escape with the codes—Jane detains Moreau. Moreau attempts to kill Benji, and Jane kicks her out a window to her death. Brandt accuses Jane of compromising the mission for revenge against Moreau, but Ethan accuses Brandt of keeping secrets from them, as he has demonstrated skills decidedly atypical of a mere analyst. While Ethan seeks more information from Bogdan, Brandt confides to Benji and Jane that he was assigned as a security detail to Ethan and his wife Julia while they were on vacation in Croatia. While Brandt was on patrol, Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad, prompting Ethan to pursue and kill them before he was caught by the Russians and sent to prison.
Bogdan and his arms-dealer cousin inform Ethan that Hendricks will be in Mumbai to facilitate the sale of a defunct Soviet military satellite to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath. The satellite could then be used to transmit the launch codes for nuclear-tipped missiles. While Brandt and Benji infiltrate the server room to deactivate the satellite, Carter gets Nath to reveal the satellite override code. But Hendricks has anticipated Ethan’s plan and infects Nath’s servers with a virus before sending a signal from a television broadcasting tower to a Russian Delta III-class nuclear submarine in the Pacific to fire at San Francisco. Ethan pursues Hendricks and the launch device while the other team-members attempt to bring the broadcast station back online. Ethan and Hendricks fight over the launch-control device before Hendricks jumps to his death with it to ensure success. Benji kills Wistrom, allowing Brandt to restore power to the station and enabling Ethan to deactivate the missile, while the fatally wounded Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan as he dies. Sidorov happens upon the scene in time to see what Ethan has done and realizes that the IMF is innocent of bombing the Kremlin.
The team reconvenes weeks later in Seattle with Ethan meeting up with Luther Stickell and accepting a new mission. Brandt refuses at first and confesses to Ethan about being assigned to protect Julia and failing. However, once Ethan reveals that both Julia’s death and the murder of Serbians were actually faked in order to infiltrate the Moscow prison while protecting Julia, a relieved Brandt accepts the mission. Julia, alive, smiles at Ethan from far away.
Brad bird delivered in this thrilling breathtaking and heart pounding instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Behind Closed Doors)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Jeffrey Wright (Ali)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Mahershala Ali (Predators)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)

After being rescued from the destroyed arena in the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, along with fellow Victors Beetee and Finnick Odair, are taken to District 13, an independent district isolated from the rest of Panem that has been spearheading the rebellion, where she is reunited with her mother and sister Prim. While recuperating, she is introduced to President Alma Coin, the rebel leader, and is told that her actions in the arena sparked riots and strikes against the Capitol. Coin asks her if she will become the “Mockingjay”—the symbol of the rebellion—as part of their “hearts and minds” strategy. Katniss flatly declines, angrily reminding her that they left Peeta Mellark, her portrayed lover and fellow District 12 tribute, behind in the arena. At the suggestion of Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Gamemaker, she is taken to see the ruins of District 12, which was completely leveled by a Capitol bombing campaign (with the exception of the houses in the Victor’s Village). After seeing that Peeta is being used by Capitol state television to quell the rebellion, Katniss reluctantly changes her mind and agrees to become Coin’s Mockingjay, on the condition that Peeta and the other victors will be rescued and pardoned at the earliest opportunity, and that her sister, Prim, will be allowed to keep her cat.
After Haymitch notes that Katniss thrives on spontaneity, she is introduced to her film team (led by Capitol escapee Cressida), is dressed up in a specially-designed outfit, and given Effie Trinket as a stylist and close friend Gale as a bodyguard. They go out to District 8 to visit a hospital, but as the visit concludes, a Capitol bombing squadron arrives and bombs the hospital, killing everyone inside. In her rage, Katniss gives a rousing speech to the camera, which is broadcast when Beetee hijacks the Capitol’s news feed. After it is broadcast, strikers in District 7 kill an entire team of Peacekeepers with hidden land mines.
After seeing a weakened Peeta on a TV propo (propaganda shots) the team then go back to District 12, where Gale tells the story of its destruction, and Katniss is filmed singing “The Hanging Tree”. Soon after, hundreds of protestors in District 5, singing the same anthem, launch a suicidal human wave attack against a hydroelectric dam that is the Capitol’s primary source of electricity. The attack succeeds, forcing the Capitol to revert to backup power generators and weakening their ability to broadcast their propaganda.
That night, Katniss watches Peeta being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, the Games’ former presenter, when, in an apparent defiance of his captors, Peeta suddenly shouts a warning that the Capitol is about to attack District 13. Coin orders a mass evacuation into the underground shelters. While Prim is nearly locked out when she goes back to get her cat, everyone manages to get inside safely, and the facility survives the attack unharmed. Upon emerging, Katniss discovers that the area is littered with white roses, realizes that President Snow has sent them to taunt her, and presumes that he is about to kill Peeta. As Peeta’s warning gave the District an additional eight minutes evacuation time, Coin dispatches an elite special forces team, which includes Gale, to rescue him, along with Johanna Mason, and Annie Cresta, the remaining Victors, from their prison in the Capitol’s Tribute center. The rescue is successful. However, when Katniss goes to greet Peeta, he unexpectedly attacks and strangles her into unconsciousness, before being knocked unconscious himself by Boggs.
Katniss wakes up in the medical facility, and is informed that Peeta has been “hijacked” — a form of physical/mental torture in which he is brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss by associating memories of her with the psychological terror created by tracker jacker venom — explaining why the Capitol allowed Gale’s team to escape. Peeta is strapped to a bed and placed in a solitary confinement, while a serum is being developed to undo the effects of the hijacking. Meanwhile, Coin announces the successful rescue of the Victors, and that their next objective is the Capitol’s principal military stronghold in the ravines on District 2.
Excellent performances by actors and a very dramatic, dark mood rather.
An awesome film and a great build-up towards the grandiose finale .