8:00 PM, 30th March, 2012
After a covert mission in The Kremlin goes catastrophically wrong and Russia is pushed to the brink of war, 'Ghost Protocol' is initiated, leaving the entire IMF disavowed and Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team accused of terrorism. Forced on the run, they must set out to uncover the true mastermind behind the plot, clear their names and, of course, save the world.
Apart from the theme song, those fancy masks, the impossible situations and Tom Cruise, the films in the Mission: Impossible series really couldn't be more different. Brian de Palma's 1996 film was a stylish and convoluted thriller with some action thrown in for good measure. John Woo's 2001 follow-up, on the other hand, was an absurd, over-stylised wall-to-wall action flick, while TV maestro J.J. Abrams's 2006 instalment was an exceptional example of popcorn filmmaking that deftly blended the various elements of the series.
And now, the fourth entry in this fifteen year-old franchise (forty-five if you count the TV show) ingeniously places Brad Bird - the man behind such animated masterpieces as The Incredibles and The Iron Giant - in the director's chair for his live-action debut. The end result? A film that is the best in the series and one of the most enthralling and purely entertaining films in a long, long time. Combining Bird's animator's sensibility and visual flair with an always-game Cruise, a top-notch supporting cast and some beautifully executed action scenes, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is one seemingly impossible mission that has definitely been accomplished!
10:28 PM, 30th March, 2012
Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is a small town Scottish policeman with a penchant for the more exotic things in life; namely drugs and prostitutes. However, when drug traffickers try to turn County Galway into a smuggling port, the normally laconic officer is teamed with straight-edged FBI agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) to stamp them out.
Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin McDonagh of In Bruges fame, The Guard shares a lot of the same dark comic vibes. Boyle is fantastically politically incorrect and Everett is outraged time and time again by his new partner's more unconventional methods. Add to this the humorous asides of the drug smugglers, more than happy to wax lyrical about poetry or corruption, and laughs ensue. The Guard relies on a clever script more than spectacle or bravado and it is refreshing as a result.
One of the more highly acclaimed movies of last year, The Guard is smart and very funny. All the local inhabitants have their quirks, but at its heart the movie is about its eponymous character, the highly unorthodox Sergeant Boyle. Gleeson plays him with a boyish glee and it is fun to see the actor having such a good time. With great dialogue and an ending which may or may not shed light on the conundrum that is Boyle, The Guard is essential viewing for lovers of intelligent comedy.