Tom Cruise will not grow old without a fight. Whatever else you might think of the 53 year-old actor, his ability to keep the years at bay is impressive. He seems to pop up in wham-bam action roles with a regularity undimmed by encroaching age. This year he returns to impossible missions in a franchise he first entered nearly two decades ago. Alongside Cruise this week, there are also a couple of films that came with high hopes and dashed expectations, and another critical hit for Noah Baumbach.
It’s amazing Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is still able to wander about conducting missions undercover. Now on his fifth film outing in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he must have crossed paths with every villainous big-shot going by this stage. In-between all the clinging off planes, breaking into high-tech facilities and motorbike racing (I swear Cruise must add screen time for him on a bike into every contract), Hunt is battling to expose an international crime consortium going by the blandly sinister name of the Syndicate. With his recent team, including Simon Pegg, returning, and a ridiculous number of action sequences, it promises high-octane stuff. Strong reviews also suggest we’re in summer blockbuster heaven.
Hot Pursuit sounds very much like a case of ‘it looked good on paper’. A newly resurgent Reese Witherspoon, and Modern Family star Sofía Vergara team up as a cop and Mexican cartel informer’s wife forced on the run. Unfortunately, after getting the central pairing right, it seems everything else was tossed aside. Terrible reviews all highlighting the almost complete absence of laughs, an outcome unsurprisingly fatal for a comedy, suggest this holds value more as an example of what not to do when attempting to make a film.
A similar kicking awaited The Cobbler when it finally found its way to release in the US. Adam Sandler stars as a cobbler who finds he can literally step into other peoples shoes when he puts on his customers footwear. Sandler is no stranger to a critical beating, but there was reason to hope for more here. The film is written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, who emerged over the last decade as one of the very best American independent filmmakers in the business. Even more so than Hot Pursuit, it falls far short of expectations.
We end on a strong note with the DVD release of While We’re Young, acclaimed filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s latest effort. The film stars Ben Stiller as a documentary maker suddenly in thrall to Adam Driver’s young pretender and is significantly lighter than his last outing with Stiller (Greenberg). With decent turns from Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried as well, the move from carefree youth to adulthood features prominently in a very funny and often thoughtful film, let down only by a horribly misjudged ending. Otherwise, Baumbach has pulled another one out the bag.
That brings a mixed week to a close. Marvel are back headlining when I see you next.