The fifth entry in the popular spy vs. spy series of action spectaculars, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a relentless thriller that ends up being marvelously entertaining even if many of its signature moments and beats feel in some way repeats of events from the preceding motion pictures.
“It’s a measure of a pretty good movie, isn’t it? If it’s a movie that you like and you go back and watch it again sometimes you’re a little disappointed because there isn’t much more there than what there was when you saw it the first time. But, sometimes, maybe a lot of times, it surprises you, and you see things in the movie that you didn’t notice the first time, you start seeing things that no one, not even the filmmakers, could have known were going to be a part of the zeitgeist at the time, that those elements would still ring true ten or twenty years later. I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of those pictures.”
But this [Vacation (2015)] fails on an even more calamitous level, forgetting the elements that made the Ramis/Hughes effort so memorable and long-lasting. It trades in platitudes instead of sincerity, elevating the gross-out antics to an even higher plateau yet leaving out the heart, soul and honesty that made all that icky silliness matter in a way it never could have otherwise.
The Look of Silence is director Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to his Academy Award-nominated stunner The Act of Killing. If that latter film was a detached, clinical analysis of unimaginable evil put under the most devastatingly perceptive of microscopes, this latest endeavor is the cry to hold those killers responsible.
Sadly, this big budget special effects driven comedy exists more than it does anything else, achieving a form of bland, barely interesting mediocrity that’s not terrible enough to be risible yet nowhere near imaginative enough to make up for its readily apparent shortcomings.
Featuring a number of exemplary performances, not the least of which is Gyllenhaal’s haggard ferocity in the lead role, filled with a number of stripped-down, nakedly raw emotional beats that take the breath away, the film is nonetheless an over-stuffed muddle that embraces every cliché the genre has ever known. [Southpaw (2015)] throws in so much stuff that one can’t help but want to throw in the towel and end things halfway through, the body of the viewer nearly as battered, bruised and bloodied as Billy Hope’s is by the time the climactic fight has reached its conclusion.
Shot on the fly using an iPhone 5S, featuring a pair of loose, energetically bouncy performances from newcomers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, [Tangerine (2015)] is an exuberantly original shot of comedic adrenaline, building to a cathartically touching coda that’s as distinctive as it is genuine.
Ant-Man proves to be one of the more enjoyable entries in Marvel’s so-called Cinematic Universe (MCU). Unlike Avengers: Age of Ultron, the script by Rudd, Wright, Adam McKay (The Other Guys) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) is beautifully self-contained, rarely utilized to set up coming events that are going to transpire inside Thor: Ragnarok or Avengers: Infinity War – Part I. It runs less than two hours, tells its own origin story and, while acknowledging the bigger comic book world it is a part of, isn’t beholden to it.
Cartel Land is Traffic but for real. Documentarian Matthew Heineman’s prize-winning Sundance sensation is unlike anything else we’ll see this year, non-fiction filmmaking as visceral, edge-of-your-seat thriller utilizing the medium in ways seldom done before.