Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (2018)



When I first saw the trailer for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, I was instantly hooked.  The action, the music… it was perfect.  It became my favorite trailer of the year and has stuck with me ever since.  So I knew I would have to go see this in the theaters, and in order to do it justice I would need to do a full rewatch of the series, and boy, am I glad I did.  This film is a fantastic sequel, branching directly off of the previous film, while also being a beautiful callback to all the other M:I films that came before it.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION (2015)



Ethan and his team are back, and this time they are hunting down a mysterious terror organization called The Syndicate.  Does that name sound familiar?  Well it should, as that was the mission given to Ethan at the end of Ghost Protocol.  This marks the first time a Mission: Impossible film leads in directly from the previous film, and it's about time.  It’s a true connecting point, and as you see throughout Rogue Nation, the events of Ghost Protocol weigh in heavily here, and that is one of the many things that make this such a great film.

Right away we see that Benji and Brandt are back in action, and they’re joined by none other than Luther Stickell.  That’s right, Ving Rhames is back, and I couldn’t be happier.  However, there’s one glaring omission from the cast, and that’s Paula Patton’s Jane Carter.  She’s nowhere to be found.  I thought maybe she’d pop up later on in the film, but no, she never does, and she’s never even mentioned.  It’s like she never existed.  This film takes place roughly a year after Ghost Protocol, so a lot could have happened, but it’s just odd that both Benji and Brandt are there and no one mentions what happened to Jane.  I can understand if Patton had other obligations that prevented her from appearing in the film, but why not give a quick line of dialogue to explain her absence.  The rotating woman in these films in the one main problem of this series, as they build up some great characters just for them to disappear in the next film.

Rogue Nation starts off with one of Cruise’s biggest stunts in the franchise – hanging off a plane as it takes off.  It’s a fantastic opening sequence that sets the pace for what is to come, a high octane thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Cruise prides himself on doing bigger and better stunts from movie to movie.  Whether it’s the fish tank scene in the first Mission: Impossible, the rock climbing scene in M:I-2, or climbing the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol, these death defying stunts are some of what make these films so amazing to watch.  Cruise’s dedication to make the best entertainment he can with these films is equal to none, and knowing he’s doing these stunts himself make them that much more intense to watch.

But stunts aren’t the only great thing about this movie.  As I said, Rogue Nation introduces us to The Syndicate, a terrorist organization led by an ex-British intelligence officer named Solomon Lane.  Their goal is to take down Ethan and the entire IMF and create a new world order through terrorist attacks and seemingly unlinked “accidents”.  They are a shadowy, behind-the-scenes villain, and their reach is wide spread.  They are a true force to reckon with, and it’s wonderful to see a villain like this in the Mission: Impossible series. They are on the level of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character from M:I-3, only bigger in scope, and that makes them much more dangerous.

And with The Syndicate comes undercover British intelligence agent Ilsa Faust, played by the incredibly talented Rebecca Ferguson.  She shows up in a scene where Ethan is abducted and about to be tortured, but there’s much more to her than meets the eye.  She is probably the most interesting and badass female character in this entire series, so if Paula Patton couldn’t be in this one, at least they brought in a new female character that can hold up to her.  Her ferocity is put on display during the amazing fight scene with her and Tom after she helps him get free.  This is a level of fight choreography that we have never seen in these films.  It’s fast and brutal, yet precise in that brutality.  It’s like a beautiful dance unfolding on screen, and their chemistry is electric.

We spend a good portion of the first half of this movie with Ethan and Benji, and I have to say, they are a fun duo to watch.  These two characters are so different, yet it’s those differences that make them work so well together.  Benji is the brains and Ethan is the brawn, so when they come together, it’s magical.  Just rewatch the opera scene and you'll understand what I'm saying.  We also get to see Brandt and Luther working together, something we haven’t seen yet, as Luther was only in Ghost Protocol for about a minute, but their bickering and stubbornness toward one another makes for a classic odd couple pairing that lends itself to some great humor.

All of the amazingness of this film wouldn’t be possible, though, without the stellar directing work of Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow).  His ability to create fast-paced, edge of your seat action is astounding.  Just look at the vault heist scene.  I was so stressed out watching Tom Cruise hold his breath for so long, especially because this is one of those stunts that he did himself.  I read that he worked with a diving expert and got to a point where he could hold his breath for over six minutes.  That’s insane!  Cruise apparently wound up with nitrogen in his blood, which messed him up for a while.  And then there’s the car chase/motorcycle chase sequence, which was one of the best scenes in the whole film.  It was intense and nerve-wracking, though I do feel like Ethan would have gotten far more injured after those two crashes, if not died. 

So, with a great script, stellar directing work, and some of the best performances of the series, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is definitely the best of series (though that may change after I go see Fallout tonight), and proves that sequels can surpass their predecessor when done well.  And with McQuarrie coming back for the new film, I have all the faith in the world that Fallout will be another great installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise.


The Merc’s Score: 9.5/10 


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YouTube Review: COBRA KAI - Season 1




Anyone who came of age during the 80's remembers The Karate Kid. A tale about a scrappy kid named Daniel LaRusso who learns to stand up for himself.  Now, fast forward 34 years and a new rivalry begins. I had the pleasure of watching the first season of the YouTube Red series Cobra Kai, and I loved it. I was obsessed with this movie as a kid and to see it back in any form was fantastic.

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (2011)




In 2006, audiences thought they had seen the last of Ethan Hunt, but little did they know that just five years later a new mission would begin that would change this franchise forever.  Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol was a shot in the arm for this seemingly dead franchise, and much like with Fast & Furious, this fourth installment has brought with it a new found life and a series of fantastic sequels.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 (2006)




Back in the day, trilogies were the cool thing to do with a film franchise, and it seems that Mission: Impossible wanted to follow that trend.  M:I-3 feels like the conclusion to Ethan Hunt’s story while also serving as a sort of soft reboot of the series.  It’s very much a sequel, but can be watched as a stand-alone film with no problem.  You don’t lose out on anything, other than a few visual references, if you’ve never seen the first two films, but you do appreciate it more after the train wreck that is M:I-2.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 (2000)



There are few times when one can say a sequel surpasses the greatness of the original film - The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part 2, and Captain America: Winter Soldier are just a few examples.  And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Mission: Impossible 2… is NOT one of those films.  After such a good film, one that has remained in the pop culture zeitgeist, it is mind-boggling that this was what came next.   

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Movie Review: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996)


The 1990’s were a breeding ground for action films, with such fare as Face/Off, Bad Boys, Die Hard, and The Matrix, but one of the most influential and longest lasting franchises also came out of this decade – Mission: Impossible.  The first film in this long-running series hit theaters in 1996 and grabbed the audience in a way that no one thought would, or even could, happen.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Movie Review: 8 BROKEN HEARTS (2017)



Pain is something we all deal with at some point in our lives, and it’s something that can shape who we are as people.  But the true test is how we handle it and whether or not we allow it to control our lives.  This documentary showcases eight brave individuals who all bare their own form of pain and how they were able to deal with it.  8 Broken Hearts captures the stories of these courageous individuals who undergo a moving transformation by sharing their experiences and courageously baring their souls. As the film reveals, pain is a feeling that sticks around, often with great detail, but it is something that everyone shares.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Movie Review: MARY SHELLEY (2018)



I love films that tell the stories of writers, especially if they are female. Most people have heard of the classic, Frankenstein. However, its true author, Mary Shelley, almost didn't get the credit she deserved. Besides being a great writer, she's also known for her marriage to Percy Shelley. During the time period in which they both lived, his views on love and wealth were radical, to say the least. The film, Mary Shelley, explores her relationship with Percy and her writing. It's a great depiction of a woman who was ahead of her time.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Movie Review: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)


25 years ago, I fell in love with a film for the first time, and in turn, fell in love with film as a whole.  Jurassic Park was everything to me.  It gave me a wonderful escape to a land I’d never experienced before, and it has stuck with me for two and a half decades.  And over those years, I’ve seen several sequels come and go, none living up to sheer awe and wonder of the original.  But Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom managed to do the next best thing by evoking the essence of the first film while bringing something wholly new to the franchise.

Short Film Spotlight: PORCELAIN STARE


Horror is, by far, one of my favorite genres of film, and anytime I’m looking for a short film to review, it’s usually either Sci-Fi or Horror.  So, when I was asked to give this one a watch, I was definitely intrigued.  From the poster alone, I knew I had to check it out.  And I’m glad I did.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Movie Review: BATMAN NINJA (2018)



DC’s animated film line is one that I almost always look forward to seeing what is released next.  They have been able to adapt some of my favorite storylines from the comics, bringing them to life in a way I never thought would happen.  So, when I heard that they were gearing up to release a new, original film inspired by the world of anime, I was definitely intrigued.  Now, what you need to realize is that I’m not a huge anime fan.  I’ve seen a few of the older anime films, like Akira, Project A-ko, Vampire Hunter D, etc., but never really got into it as a genre. However, once I saw the trailer for Batman Ninja, I was sold.  It looked amazing, from the intricate details to the fantastically unique character designs, and the story seemed interesting.  So, once I got my copy, I was ready to give this baby a whirl.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Check Out The Official Trailer For LONDON FIELDS Right Here!



London Fields tells the story of a clairvoyant, femme fatale named Nicola Six who has been living with a dark premonition of her impending death. She begins a tangled love affair with three uniquely different men: one of whom she knows will be her murderer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Movie Review: SET IT UP (2018)


Quality romantic comedies are few and far between these days.  As the 90’s ended, so did the tidal wave of rom-coms (both good and bad) that saturated the market.  Occasionally we still get a decent one here and there, but they’ve become almost like an endangered species.  Luckily we have places like Netflix who aren’t afraid to throw a few out onto the table for the masses.  Earlier this year I watched one called When We First Met starring Adam Devine, and I found it to be enjoyable.  Was it a masterpiece? No, but very few rom-coms are, but it was a fun watch, and that’s exactly how I felt about Set It Up.  This was an enjoyable film to watch with some good performances and an interesting, though not unique, premise.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

How To Train Your Dragon 3 Poster Officially Released



The first official poster for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has been released.

It shows Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Jay Baruchel) and his friend Toothless meeting an ethereal-looking female Night Fury. Based on the series of children's books by Cressida Cowell, the How to Train Your Dragon films have taken audiences' collective breath away with their gorgeous animation, broad horizons, and heartfelt stories of family and friendship.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Podcast Episode #6: CINEMACON 2018 & Avengers: Infinity War NON-SPOILER Review



Hey there, fellow Mercs!  Check out the sixth episode of the official Merc With A Movie Blog podcast!

During this episode, I discuss all the big news that came out of CinemaCon 2018 from all the major studios!

I also give a short NON-SPOILER review of Avengers: Infinity War!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Movie Review: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Non-Spoiler Review)


Ten years ago, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. started something that no one could've foreseen becoming what it is today.  Iron Man began a decade-long journey with characters from all over the globe and beyond, which has taken us to places no comic book fan ever thought they'd see on the big screen, and some that just shouldn't have been possible.  But they were.  We saw characters like Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, and the aforementioned Iron Man, most of which were characters that the average person on the street had never heard of, and yet, within four years, they would grow to super stardom as Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige managed to bring them all together for the what many people considered the cinematic event of the decade...The Avengers.

Movie Review: AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Full Spoiler Review)


Ten years ago, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. started something that no one could've foreseen becoming what it is today.  Iron Man began a decade-long journey with characters from all over the globe and beyond, which has taken us to places no comic book fan ever thought they'd see on the big screen, and some that just shouldn't have been possible.  But they were.  We saw characters like Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, and the aforementioned Iron Man, most of which were characters that the average person on the street had never heard of, and yet, within four years, they would grow to super stardom as Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige managed to bring them all together for the what many people considered the cinematic event of the decade...The Avengers.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

TV Review: ROSEANNE - Season 10 (Episodes 1-5)



If you came of age in the 90's, then you'll probably remember a little show called Roseanne. It ran for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997, which were my adolescent years.  It told the story of a working-class family with three kids, not unlike my own family or my friends'.  They had their ups and downs, but in the end, it was all about family.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Movie Review: I FEEL PRETTY (2018)




In an age of Instagram models and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, self-worth and self-love is paramount.  So many people, both men and women, suffer from self-esteem issues from an increasingly early age, so when I first heard about this movie I was both excited and nervous.  Would this be more like Shallow Hal, where a filmmaker is trying to get a good message across, but fails at doing it well?  Thankfully it wasn’t, as Amy Schumer and directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein tell a fun story with a message that will hit home with many people.