This week I was able to attend two screenings; one for "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and another for "Young Adult." These are two very different movies but both are thoroughly entertaining.
Let's start with Tom Cruise's fourth addition to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Cruise is back (and looking very good, I might add) as Agent Ethan Hunt. This go round, he's trying to stop a madman who's determined to start a nuclear war to give mankind and the planet a chance to "start over." Unfortunately, the American government has disavowed Ethan and anyone who has anything to do with his agency because of an explosion the Russians are blaming on the U.S. Ethan and his team must save the world – again – with no help and few resources.
Ethan has a new team of characters around him this time, including Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Jane (Paula Patton), and Benji (Simon Pegg). Brandt is brooding and sexy with a secret he's hiding from Ethan; Jane is heartbroken by the recent death of her spy boyfriend and ready to get revenge; and Benji is a hilarious computer geek who somehow managed to finagle his way into the field to work with the big spies.
If you saw the last Mission: Impossible, you remember Ethan had married and left the spy game. When this movie begins, there's no sign of Mrs. Hunt. I thought at first filmmakers were going to treat us as if we're idiots who didn't remember that, but no. The missing Mrs. Hunt is a plot point that will all be explained in the end.
Let's be honest. Cruise's star has faded a bit in the last few years because, quite frankly, his off-screen life is a little strange. But this movie is action-packed, exciting, well-paced and it will leave you breathless in some scenes. I loved it, and I really can't find much to criticize. Go see this movie.
I give "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol" 4 out of 5 stars. The movie is rated PG-13.
The much more sedate "Young Adult" is, in my opinion, just as watchable. Charlize Theron is Mavis Gary, a gorgeous 37-year-old author of young adult novels. Unfortunately, her book series is ending and she's not sure what she's going to do.
Although she's close to 40, Mavis still acts as if she's 18. Her apartment and her life are a mess. When her old high school boyfriend sends her an email announcing the arrival of his first child, she takes it as a cry for help. Obviously (in Mavis' mind), he's being held back by a wife and a family when he would much rather be living the good life in the big city with Mavis. She ignores the deadline for her book, packs her bags and heads back to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota, to "save" her ex.
It is almost painful to watch Mavis strut back into town, looking down on all the residents and plotting to steal a man from his wife and child. She feels all sorts of superior because she's an author (not merely a writer) who lives in the big city (Minneapolis!) and leads the fabulous life of a sophisticated single (no husband means hook-ups with strangers). Some of the town's residents are actually in awe of her, while others still hold grudges against this "psycho prom queen."
Only one guy will tell her the truth about herself, and that's former classmate Matt (Patton Oswalt). Matt bears the visible evidence of a vicious high school experience. He's obviously a little awed by Mavis, too, but he has no problem telling her that what she's doing is just plain crazy.
I don't like Mavis Gary. She's self absorbed, selfish, and a hot mess. You won't like her, either, but this is still a fascinating movie. Writer Diablo Cody (Juno) has created a character study of a lot of today's thirty-somethings who have may have jobs and their own homes, but refuse to mature emotionally and instead act as if their actions have no consequences, and believe the world owes them something. Theron plays Mavis brilliantly, and Oswalt is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
I give "Young Adult" 4 out of 5 stars. It's rated R.