Tag: Tom Cruise

MOVIE REVIEW | The Color of Money (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says:The Color of Money is three masters of their craft at work.”

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“You gotta have two things to win. You gotta have brains and you gotta have balls. Now, you got too much of one and not enough of the other.”

Once actors reach real mega stardom, it becomes easier and easier to take them for granted, or even dismiss them completely.  But more often than not, the reason they became mega stars in the first place is that they’re really good actors.  Good looks and natural charisma only take people so far, but to really breakthrough, they have to have some chops.  Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s biggest mega stars for three decades, and he’s often tossed off as an empty vessel.  But there’s a reason that Tom Cruise has been one of Hollywood’s biggest mega stars for so long, he’s a really good actor.  Which is something I’m reminded of when I watch his older work, movies like The Color of Money.

A quarter of a century after The Hustler, ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) is back.  No longer playing pool himself, he hustles by financing and mentoring the next generation, people like John Turtorro’s Julian.  One night, Julian is convincingly beaten by a new face in town, Vincent (Cruise).  Immediately, Felson realises this kid has raw talent that can make them both more money than ever before. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

Going Clear

“What the fuck is this?!?”

Scientology is a pretty soft target.  It’s some wackadoo sounding bat shit crazy stuff.  And it boasts a lot of the most wackadoo, bat shit crazy people in the world, ie. Hollywood celebrities.  But the thing is, when you look at the stories at the basis of most popular religions, they’re all pretty wackadoo and bat shit crazy.  But for some reason, thousands of years of history makes us more open to the stories of the old school religions, even if we don’t believe them.  As aware of that as I am about my own opinions, I still found Scientology pretty hilarious.  But now that I’ve seen Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, it’s less funny and more terrifying.


Made up almost exclusively of talking head interviews form ex-members, we get a history lesson on the evolution of the church, founded in the 50s by WWII veteran, science pulp fiction writer and all around first class liar, L Ron Hubbard.  In some ways his attempts to deal with possible PTSD from the war, in a lot more ways all about making a shit load of cash and paying no tax on it, Scientology was based on a pretty positive idea.  Eliminate all negative thoughts from your mind and negative influences from your life. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Valkyrie (2008)

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“The Fuhrer’s promises of peace and prosperity have fallen by the wayside leaving in their wake a path of destruction.”

In the 90s, Bryan Singer was the next big thing. The Usual Suspects was the cool little movie that broke big and helped launch the career of Kevin Spacey. And along wih Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Singer’s first two X-Men movies pretty much defined what comic book movies have been ever since. Then he gave up a lot of his goodwill by making Superman Returns, a truly terrible, boring movie. These days, he’s a little all over the shop. X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty great, while Jack the Giant Slayer looked like a colossus mess of terrible CGI and little else.


In between, is Valkyrie. I remember a lot of buzz before it came out, then it just kind of fizzled away. No one loved it, but no one hated it either. How could a movie about a plot to kill Hitler, starring Tom Cruise, directed by Singer be a fizzler? I could understand it being amazing, I could understand it being amazingly bad, but I couldn’t believe it fell in that boring, middle ground. Although, the fact that I’m only now getting to Valkyrie, seven years after its release, is a sign of how little an impact its release obviously made on me. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

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“The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do.”

In 2015, it feels like more movies are part of a franchise than not.  Actors sign on for multi year, multi movie deals to play the same character again and again.  And Marvel can announce its upcoming movies for the next half dozen years. It’s made sequels seem a little less cash grabby and cynical, and more ambitious.  For some reason, studios being open in advance about plans  to milk us for years’ worth of cash from the same characters seems more OK than the old days, when a movie would be a surprise hit, then they’d slap together a sequel to get some more of our cash.  But now, that old system of ad hoc sequels seems almost charming.  It’s taken 20 years, five directors, and seemingly no plan, but the Mission: Impossible series remains the throwback franchise exception to the modern day franchise rule.  And that continues with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.


Picking up directly after the events of 2011’s Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF spy colleagues are on the trail of the Syndicate, the shadowy organisation of bad guys discovered in the last movie.  After an amazing stunt with Cruise on the outside of a plane that deserves all the hype it got in the lead up to this movie’s release, IMF comes under the investigation of the US government and CIA Chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).  It seems IMF’s missions have become a little too loose and Hunley thinks they should be more heavily regulated, or even better, disbanded completely. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

Going Clear

“What the fuck is this?!?”

Scientology is a pretty soft target.  It’s some wackadoo sounding bat shit crazy stuff.  And it boasts a lot of the most wackadoo, bat shit crazy people in the world, ie. Hollywood celebrities.  But the thing is, when you look at the stories at the basis of most popular religions, they’re all pretty wackadoo and bat shit crazy.  But for some reason, thousands of years of history makes us more open to the stories of the old school religions, even if we don’t believe them.  As aware of that as I am about my own opinions, I still found Scientology pretty hilarious.  But now that I’ve seen Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, it’s less funny and more terrifying.


Made up almost exclusively of talking head interviews form ex-members, we get a history lesson on the evolution of the church, founded in the 50s by WWII veteran, science pulp fiction writer and all around first class liar, L Ron Hubbard.  In some ways his attempts to deal with possible PTSD from the war, in a lot more ways all about making a shit load of cash and paying no tax on it, Scientology was based on a pretty positive idea.  Eliminate all negative thoughts from your mind and negative influences from your life. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

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First, we had Groundhog Day, a sweet, fantasy comedy that was the perfect link between the screwball hilarious Bull Murray of the 80s, and the more serious, prestige Bill Murray of the last couple of decades. Then the whole “live the same day over and over, and learn in an important lesson about yourself” trope was given the sci-fi treatment a few years ago with the not often enough talked about Source Code.  Now, it’s given a mega budget, mega movie star overhaul, with Edge of Tomorrow.


It’s sometime in the future and the planet Earth is at war with some aliens.  Tom Cruise is Cage, a slick military spin doctor whose job it is to convince the human race that they’re winning this war.  But here’s the thing, the humans aren’t winning, they’re having their asses kicked.  Brendan Gleeson’s General Brigham is planning  a massive and risky offensive, and decides that the best way to get the public on board is to get Cage on the front lines as well.  Basically kidnapped, Cage hits the beach on D Day and dies almost immediately. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

emily_blunt_in_edge_of_tomorrow-wide
First, we had Groundhog Day, a sweet, fantasy comedy that was the perfect link between the screwball hilarious Bull Murray of the 80s, and the more serious, prestige Bill Murray of the last couple of decades. Then the whole “live the same day over and over, and learn in an important lesson about yourself” trope was given the sci-fi treatment a few years ago with the not often enough talked about Source Code.  Now, it’s given a mega budget, mega movie star overhaul, with Edge of Tomorrow.


It’s sometime in the future and the planet Earth is at war with some aliens.  Tom Cruise is Cage, a slick military spin doctor whose job it is to convince the human race that they’re winning this war.  But here’s the thing, the humans aren’t winning, they’re having their asses kicked.  Brendan Gleeson’s General Brigham is planning  a massive and risky offensive, and decides that the best way to get the public on board is to get Cage on the front lines as well.  Basically kidnapped, Cage hits the beach on D Day and dies almost immediately. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Jack Reacher (2012)

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Jack Reacher, as described in the series of books the character comes from, is almost six and a half feet tall.  So when it’s time to cast someone to play the title role in a Jack Reacher movie, obviously there’s no better choice than the hobbit sized Tom Cruise.  Even more obviously, when you’re casting the villain for a Tom Cruise actioner, the first choice is going to be sad sack German film maker, Werner Herzog.,  You know why these two are the obvious choices?  Because putting them together leads to a pretty fun kind of action movie you don’t really see much these days.


The movie opens with a sniper picking off a group of seemingly innocent, seemingly random people in a park in broad daylight.  When the shooter is caught, he demands to see Cruise’s Reacher.  Once there, Reacher recruited by the shooter’s defence attorney, Rosamund Pike as Helen Rodin, to act as her lead investigator.  What follows is standard action movie plot stuff.  Car chases, shootings, fist fights, double crosses, twists, reveals and all that kind of gear.  While the story never really had me on the edge of my seat wondering or caring what would happen to these characters, that’s not what something like Jack Reacher needs to be entertaining.  What something like Jack Reacher needs is car chases, shootings, fist fights, double crosses, twists, reveals and that kind of gear.

It’s easy to think you don’t like Tom Cruise, but a move like Jack Reacher is a reminder of how he became the biggest movie star in the world.  He’s charismatic and knows how to deliver a hero performance in a Hollywood blockbuster.  It also helps that the ultra confident Cruise gets to play an ultra confident character.  John McClain as the every man who becomes a hero in the original Die Hard is an amazing character, but I’m also a fan of the hero who knows he’s a hero.  It never crosses his mind for one second that he won’t beat the bad guys, that he’s not smarter than them, stronger than them and always a couple of steps ahead.  I assume that’s how Cruise sees himself in everyday life, which is why he nails it as Jack Reacher.

But of course, the most insane thing about his movie is also its most awesome.  Werner Herzog as the baddie.  Seriously, this is the guy who literally ate a shoe on film because he lost a bet.  The guy who was once shot while giving an interview…  And finished the interview.   The guy who believes, “the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder.”  It’s that sort of light hearted frivolity that Herzog brings to his performance as Zeck, the villain.

Jack Reacher isn’t an amazing movie, but it is a better one than you’d expect.  It almost made me feel a little nostalgic for the kind of action movies they made in the 80s and early 90s.  A simpler time, when all we needed were car chases, shootings, fist fights, double crosses, twists, reveals and that kind of gear.

Jack Reacher
Directed By – Christopher McQuarrie
Written By – Christopher McQuarrie