Scorpio Review

It’s time to look at a film about espionage. Whenever you try to leave an outfit that involves murder and national secrets there isn’t an easy way to do so. We see films like this pop up quite a bit and the main character either needs to have a really incredible plan set in motion or things just aren’t going to end well. Things don’t end well for just about anyone here but it does make for a pretty great film. It can get tragic at some points for sure though.

The movie starts with Cross finishing yet another mission. He gets back home and realizes that he has finally gotten to the point where he knows too much. The CIA want to bump him off so he decides to go under the radar for a while. He lets his wife know he will have a plan set up to get her out of the country soon. The CIA can’t let him get loose though so they enlist the help of Scorpio, one of the best assassins in the business. This guy definitely never loses his target so they are pretty confident that he will get the job done. Scorpio isn’t thrilled about this assignment since he has always gotten along with Cross quite well. Still, he isn’t given a whole lot of options and it is a job so he has his reputation to think about. Sorry Cross, but this is the end of the line.

It reminds me a bit of a comedy film I saw with this plot. Of course in this case Scorpio plays it very serious. Cross really steals the show here. He’s definitely portrayed quite well as an experienced CIA agent who has seen everything play out before and knows exactly how things work. It’s part of how he knew exactly when to leave and how to go about it. His plan isn’t perfect and at times the government gets close but with the odds stacked against him he did do rather well for himself. He also keeps trying to get through to Scorpio during the film such as letting him know that the CIA aren’t his allies. Of course, Scorpio is pretty smart but not quite as smart as Cross so I wonder if he could make such a clean getaway.

Scorpio was a very solid character for most of the film but I do have to say that the ending hurt him quite a bit. He didn’t wait for any kind of explanation and jumped right to the worst assumptions straight off the bat. I suppose at this point he probably doesn’t trust people much anymore but considering that he’s known some people for years you’d think he’d listen. He mentioned earlier in the film that Cross never steered him wrong so you’d think he would at least give him a chance. Of course, with a man as deadly as Cross if you have any doubts on if you can trust him then it does get tricky. I dunno, it’s a tough one but Scorpio handled it very poorly. I still appreciated all of his rebelling in the first half of the film and he gets a lot of witty dialogue throughout. He’s just a fun guy, it’s a shame he couldn’t close out better.

The ending of the film is definitely very solid and poetic though. Quite a lot happens in the final minutes of the film and it really just goes to show why listening is so important. The ending makes one character look pretty bad with how it goes. It’s just the perfect way to end the film because it really could not end any other way. This was how you bring everything back around to the beginning of the cycle as it prepares to start anew with some fresh faces. A thriller always needs to have a good ending to really make it feel like you had a solid experience and that’s exactly what this film does.

Another fun character was Zharkov. He’s definitely had quite a long history with Cross and the two of them have a lot of mutual respect for each other even if they’re on different sides. At the end of the day their politics are quite different and they can never truly just hang out but the guy helped Cross a whole lot. They had a strong bond. It also shows that Cross was just a nice guy who was easy to get along with. He has another friend in the film who did a lot of the legwork for him such as delivering packages. Unfortunately things don’t go very well for him and it’s definitely one of those scenes that makes it even easier to root for Cross since the CIA come off as quite corrupt and dangerous. At times they seem to be the real villains here like how they handled the situation with his wife. Pretty bad all around.

The best parts of the film are really enjoying the cat and mouse adventures with Scorpio and Cross. Scorpio really knows how Cross thinks and that makes for a lot of good planning. He definitely takes quite a lot of shots at the CIA workers who are supposed to be helping him work on the case as well. Those guys just don’t seem to be able to keep up with Cross at all and fall for every trap. In a way it does mean they were smart to get Scorpio involved though. Without him they really wouldn’t have been even close to tagging Cross in the end.

Overall, Scorpio is a very solid thriller film. It’s easily one of the best in the assassin game. I think this sub genre of assassins going after another assassins adds a nice twist to the genre. When you have a pro going after an innocent civilian who doesn’t even know how to protect himself it can only be so engaging. With a movie like this it’s a lot better right off the cuff because you’ve now got a lot of strategies and counter strategies to consider. Both characters have to stay sharp because one mistake could be fatal. That said, Cross was handling Scorpio with kid gloves the whole time and had numerous chances to finish him off. Cross is trying to get out of the game so he doesn’t murder people without a reason anymore but the film would have been very different if he hadn’t made that decision.

Overall 8/10

Mission Impossible Review

It’s time to take a look at the classic Mission Impossible films. First up is the original one of course. This started the long streak of success for the films and holds up quite well. It’s still a great action film with tight pacing and good writing. It also has the most memorable “Impossible Mission” set up with the heroes trying to break into the room that has so many different sensors.

The film starts with Ethan Hunt and his team heading into a big gala event to stop someone from stealing a list with the names of every operative who is in the field. Unfortunately it seems like the villains were waiting for them as all of Ethan’s friends are murdered one by one. Ethan is now suspected of being a traitor to the cause so he goes dark. Ethan realizes that he will have to infiltrate the villains circle of trust in order to find the guy who framed him. It seems like he will be alone in this mission but Claire shows up later and says that she managed to get out of the car before it blew up. That’s suspicious but Ethan has bigger things to worry about like revenge. He hires two former operatives to help him and the team prepares for their mission.

One of the big ironies here is that to gain the trust of the villains Ethan Hunt actually ends up breaking into the CIA himself to steal the very list he had been trying to defend earlier. Talk about a full reversal of roles here right? It reminds me of how annoying it always is to see the villains pull off a heist like this in films like White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen and naturally you don’t feel the same way when the heroes do it. It just goes to show how important the roles are here although the guards should have known better than to allow the firemen inside. Seems like a very suspicious setup…at least follow them right?

The main Impossible theme is catchy as always. It’s a tune that is easily remembered and has become very iconic over the years. It shows up multiple times here and even gets a remix at the end. Whenever music pops up here it is definitely fitting, but of course this was the highlight. Mission Impossible also has a lot of great visuals in the film like when the explosion propels Hunt onto the train or when he escapes from the restaurant with water exploding behind him. It could easily pass for a 2010 era film.

Ethan is pretty much the ideal main character. He’s a great field commander who always gets the job done. Even when everyone else is getting bumped off he tries to get in on the action to try and at least save someone. It doesn’t quite work out so well though. Then he quickly gathers his wits and moves in to find the real culprit. Unlike many other leads who freeze or start to panic when things go wrong, Ethan never has a moment of weakness like that. Even when he was talking to the CIA commander early on he immediately realized that something was off. It was the same when someone showed up from the grave trying to plead that he was innocent. Most main characters actually buy this for a moment but Ethan didn’t even entertain the notion. He’s certainly not perfect as he doesn’t see through another deception as quickly as he should have. He let his emotions get the better of him there which was unfortunate, but for the most part he made no mistakes. I also liked the masks he wore in this film as I forgot he used to do that.

Claire is the main heroine. She somehow managed to survive the initial sabotage which was certainly nice I suppose. Her character goes through a route that is a little predictable nowadays, but certainly much less so when this film originally came out. She’s a reasonable character I suppose, but one that can seem a bit sketchy at times. Her husband was murdered so you’d think that she would keep her distance from Ethan a little more of give him the cold shoulder. We have to keep this professional right?

Jim was Ethan’s boss before he was murdered. It’s easy to see why he typically wouldn’t be a field agent since the guy is just so old. The moment someone started tailing him you knew that the guy was doomed. He’s a bit of a generic character, but a reasonably good one I guess. He certainly enjoys living in fancy hotels but claims that he hasn’t lost his edge. I wonder about that, but the bosses in these kinds of films don’t typically end up doing all that well.

Luther is one of the two agents that Ethan hires to help him out on this mission. He’s definitely very well equipped to handle the data hacking and I can see why he became a fan favorite character by the end. He’s pretty confident and also has his morals unlike the other guy. Luther wasn’t going to let the villains actually leak out the codenames while Franz didn’t really care. Franz is the more annoying agent who isn’t always great at his job and only cares about the money. He even comes close to actually murdering someone. You’re definitely not meant to root for this guy.

One character who is an antagonist here, but still a fun character is Kittridge. Of course he isn’t correct in his hunch that Ethan is the mole, but at least the guy is trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. He’s fairly intelligent and comes up with a good plan to try and lure Ethan out. He’s also at the ready when he notices suspicious activity during the climax. Cutting a deal at the end may have been morally dubious, but it did seem like the villains would get away otherwise. He’s not exactly a hero, but he’s a very interesting character and a guy who is quite good at his job. If he wasn’t up against Ethan then he may have had a shot here.

Overall, This film was definitely a lot of fun. It’s probably got the biggest stealth aspect to it compared to the sequels as they became a lot more action oriented. Here we even get a lot of mystery aspects as players keep changing sides and you don’t know who to trust. The mystery angle is played quite well and the writing is always engaging. If you haven’t watched this film yet then now is the perfect time to do so since the new film is coming out soon. You’ll want to see for yourself why this is considered the best secret agent film series at the moment.

Overall 8/10

North by Northwest Review

Looks like it’s time to check out one of the classics by Hitchcock. This film plays out like a James Bond adventure in many ways, which is good and bad. The film is certainly nice and long so there is enough time to fit in quite a few plot points, but the movie ends up being one of Alfred’s weaker ones. It just can’t hold up to some of his other classics, but gives it a good effort.

Roger was just an ordinary joe for a while. He had a good job and he was satisfied with how his life was going. One day, he is kidnapped by a group who claims that he is actually Mr. Kaplan. Roger is angered by these accusations, but he drinks a beer and is nearly tricked into driving off a cliff. He regains his wits in time to survive, but how will he prove his innocence? The police are irritated by his driving while drinking trick and then Roger is framed for murder. With everyone after him, it’s going to be tough for Roger to escape. This will take all of his extreme skills.

As I mentioned, the film is a little like James Bond. One of the ways in which it is similar is how long the film is. The plot is constantly changing as the film goes on and new situations present themselves. It’s safe to say that you won’t see the ending coming from the early parts of the film because of how many transitions are present. Length can be a tricky thing, but this film handles it rather well even if I do prefer the first half of the film to the second.

See, at first, Roger is just your average joe. He is framed so he tries to clear his name after he escapes the country. We get to see him jump on trains and outrun the government. The second half has him become more of a special agent as he tries to deal with the villains. The film turned into a bit of a spy movie as we had special agents and villain organizations. Still pretty good, but a pretty big shift.

In an unfortunate similarity to James Bond, Roger begins to like one of the antagonists and they have several prolonged scenes of trying to start a romance. It goes on for quite a while and these scenes are what brings the film down. Even when Roger is trying to enact a plan or get revenge on the enemies, he takes the time to flirt and ignore the fact that Eve wants him to just leave her alone. How many times do you have to be betrayed to get the message right?

The “heroes” are also more than a little shady. I’m talking about the council who is aware of Roger’s plight. Not only do they do nothing to help the guy, but they actively try to destroy him at one point as they don’t want to risk Eve’s safety so they allow Roger to walk into a trap with one of the airplanes. (Or was it a helicopter?) It’s hard to forget that Eve was in on it so the romance should have been over and done with it. None of that “It wasn’t personal Roger” talk could get out of that one.

Roger’s mom is a pretty funny character to have around. She doesn’t take the situation seriously at all and puts Roger in many tough plights. As far as she is concerned, Roger is guilty and just making up stories to make himself look better. She had to miss a show because of Roger and I like to think that she is holding it against him for the whole movie and that’s why she’s giving him such a hard time. Missing the opera is certainly not fun.

Roger was a likable character for a while, but then he went James Bond and it was all over. The guy stopped being the epic protagonist that he used to be, but he still had his moments. The auction plan was brilliant as he did a good job in summoning the police. He started to act with more confidence in the second half of the movie as he finally began to gather his bearings and accept his role. It’s easy to root for the guy even if I don’t care for his character.

Eve is in a tough spot right from the start. She is forced to make quite a few tough decisions. It’s hard to say whether she makes the right ones or not, but then she shouldn’t have continued to mess around with Roger. There was no reason for it and endangering the mission is not cool if she was still planning to take it seriously. The main villain is fairly dull. He talks a good game…but he really doesn’t have much of a role. He’s simply the villain and there’s not a whole lot to say about him. He actually still liked Eve the whole time until he found out about the treachery as she was his girlfriend before she ever defected. He simply underestimated the power of morality and money.

As with most spy type films, there is a bunch of plot hax to be found here. Right from the start actually as Roger is held a gun point while in a very high class restaurant. The place is bustling with people and nobody notices this. Roger isn’t exactly subtle about the situation and the gunmen don’t really try to quiet him down. You’d think that the place had been deserted and the no witnesses part comes back to haunt Roger. Roger also walks right into a government establishment and allegedly take out a powerful politician. Where were the guards and how did nobody notice that Roger did not actually commit the act? These are the kinds of questions that you will have to ask yourself as you watch the film. Plot hax like this doesn’t really hurt the film, but it will make you shake your head a little.

As expected of such an old film. The writing is very good and the characters all sound respectable. Even the villain is polite in a passive aggressive way as he threatens Roger. I was surprised to see that the soundtrack was also very quick and ready to go. You don’t expect such a colorful soundtrack in such an old movie, but we had some nice tunes. That helped the film really be complete.

Overall, This is another compelling installment by Hitchcock. The main thing that holds it back is the relationship between Eve and Roger as it doesn’t make sense and is unnecessary. Once Eve sold him out to the villains, that should have been the end of that. We hardly needed more flirting after that. The film is quite long and the film uses this effectively. You’re in for a good ride in this film despite its faults. I recommend this film if you’re really into the James Bond films and you would probably like it even more than I did. However, if you’ve seen some of Hitchcock’s other thrillers like Dial M for Murder, you may find it to be a bit lacking. This film was extremely close to getting a positive rating after all, but I don’t do .5s so it had to be held back.

Overall 5/10