May 08, 2006

J.J. Abrams, USA 2006

there was one review i'd read prior to seeing the film that stuck in my mind and lowered my expectations. it said JJ spent the first hour or so trying to get you to care about these characters (unsuccessfully so) instead of getting on with the action sequences. now, the first couple of scenes (save for the very tense intro into the film) are designed to show you the normal lives of a couple of these characters. but they are not awkward or sappy. they actually brought me back to Alias and Sid's apartment when she has all her friends over. end of story. it lasts a few minutes and that's that. after that, everything kicks into gear and everyone and everything just works like gangbusters! what a fun little (big) ride this was! i would wish the producers, who have expressed interest in getting directors to put their stamp on each and every film, would actually put the director's fucking name above or near the title so people would know who did the films, instead of getting the impression these are Tom Cruise's films. i like the guy (as an action actor) but these are more the directors' styles than Cruise's. here we have JJ Abrams, the imaginative genius behind Felicity, Alias, and Lost. i would like audience to be aware of this, and to notice that he just put Ethan Hunt in the Alias world. and i'm not complaining :) this is what an Alias would be (and i hope it's in Sid's future!!). the film is about family, whether you have blood ties or not. nothing's overstated or sappy, but JJ makes his point poke its head behind all the action. and what action!!! wow. Alias had nothing to be ashamed of on tv, and this film is everything you would expect from the same team. it's big, explosive, and intense! i will note that some of the earlier scenes were a bit frantic so trying to follow who's doing what was kind of a chore, but things even out by the midpoint. now, Tom Cruise -- am i the only one who saw the glaring homosexual undertones in the first act of the film??? they were especially prevalent when Ethan meets with Billy Crudup's John Musgrave. the homosexual innuendos were too obvious. lol. at first i thought JJ was playing it for laughs, but then i realized that no, the scene wasn't even about that. but cinephiles will have a field day dissecting the Tom Cruise-ness :) (the Top Gun shots (the bike, fools), the see Keri Russell as Nicole Kidman, ... ) aside from being an incredibly well-crafted action blockbuster MI3 does something in this film that's just... i won't say what but it was smart as hell. smart writing. JJ also assembled an amazing cast of dramatic actors for this action film. Maggie Q, the only one i wasn't aware of, does a spectacular job making us care for her character without as much 15 lines of dialogue. actually, everyone does splendidly well in this film. the only one that didn't 'shine' per se, is Jonathan Rhys Meyers. he's not bad, really not, he just doesn't pop off the screen like almost everyone else does. same goes for Michelle Monaghan, actually. but at least her character has some interesting stuff to do. Keri Russell made it incredibly easy to care for her spy character. oh, and i almost forgot about him -- what to say of Philip Seymour Hoffman? :) you already saw the cool demeanor in the trailers, and, outside of JJ, his performance was what i was most excited about seeing. and he does a disarming job, using a confident monotone to ground his character and avoid the clichéd villain character. Owen Davian never falters or shows weakness. he's quite menacing in a normal, day-to-day kind of way. it was quite fun to watch the explosive actor reign it all in for a normal character like this. he did play quiet in Capote but he was still peculiar and extroverted enough to warrant Hoffman's excellent mannerisms. here he does very little, but it's all effective. a brilliant, and very capable, villain. the locations in the film are spectacular and incredibly well-used. the script is smart, fun, and funny. the action sequences are tense and outstanding. actually, JJ did something i've rarely seen in action films - the transitions between action sequences and quieter scenes are not abrupt. you usually feel the drop in rhythm when films settle into a slower groove, and i always dread it. i always thought it was inevitable, but i just realized that i never felt it in this film! kudos to JJ and co for pulling that off. if you're a fan of Alias, and haven't seen MI3 yet, run to it. it's an incredibly well-made film and a summer movie that doesn't need you to check your brain at the door. enjoy :)

Posted by Anonymous | 8:49 AM |