“Airwolf” came at that time where America was infatuated with big vehicles and Americans fighting crime and foreign bad guys. Shows like “A Team” and “Knight Rider” were pop culture sensations, so “Airwolf” tries to tap in to that same vein. It’s not the most amazing TV series, but it’s a damn solid action series about a young soldier and crusty old veteran fighting crime and stopping international terrorists with their high tech helicopter. Sadly, the helicopter doesn’t have a sentient voice like KITT did in “Knight Rider,” but there’s at least Jan Michael Vincent, and Ernest Borgnine, who has a good time playing the mentor who also has a tough time piloting such a high tech gizmo. “Airwolf” has a good premise and one that can definitely fit in to a movie or two down the line.
Ethan Hunt is no mere agent. He’s a force of nature that keeps pushing himself to the brink of imminent death every single time we meet him. Last time he hung on the side of a high rise, and this time he hangs along the side of a flying aircraft. Not to mention he merely drowns in one of the many close call operations he and the disbanded IMF commit towards. Tom Cruise lends the character an intensity and bug eyed gutsiness that make him a hero you want to root for, and someone you most definitely want on your side at all times. Hunt has met his match this time with the evil Lane (Sam Harris), a leader of a rising organization called the Syndicate, who is always one step ahead of Hunt, while sidekick Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) displays an enigmatic aura that makes Hunt uncertain if she’s friend or foe.
It’s nice to see director Brad Bird inject a new sense of excitement and novelty in to the “Mission Impossible” movie series, as it now embraces its episodic origins to completely reboot the epic story of Ethan Hunt. After the pretty good third outing, “Ghost Protocol” sports an entirely different atmosphere, where the team from the IMF are still out and lurking about, while Ethan Hunt has become a pariah, now jailed in a Russian prison. After Simon Pegg’s character Benji stages a caper to free Ethan from prison, Ethan discovers that the world must be in dire trouble if he’s being turned to for help.
The worst crime that “Shadow Recruit” is guilty of is that it’s mediocre. At no point was I worried for the characters because, I just didn’t care. We know Ryan fights another day, so why fear for his life? The studios can’t quite seem to decide if they want to turn Jack Ryan in to Jason Bourne, or just a geek chic techie, so in “Shadow Recruit” he’s both. One minute he’s zooming through New York in a motorcycle trying to chase down a fake police car intent on blowing up Wall Street, and the next he can barely finish a covert operation without the help of Kevin Costner’s guardian Thomas watching and re-assuring him from afar. At this point, it’s about time to really give up on the Jack Ryan character.
I wouldn’t say that “The Bourne Legacy” is a bad movie. As a sequel, or spin off, it works as an interesting diversion, and has a unique concept. Treadstone perhaps wasn’t the only test subject, and now we’re faced with the potential of others out there fighting for their lives when the government decides to burn the entire house down and murder their subjects. Jeremy Renner has proven to be a charismatic action hero, and “The Bourne Legacy” is altogether a fine movie, in the end. And that’s the problem. It’s just fine. The first three “Bourne” movies were incredible.
“The Comic Bucket List” is a limited column where we review 25 comic books and graphic novels we’ve been meaning to read for years. We discover if they were worth waiting for, or if they never quite lived up to the hype they promised.
DANGER GIRL (FIRST RUN)
J. Scott Campbell, Andy Hartnell
The key to a great mystery is the lead in, the ultimate catch and macguffin that will bring us in to the cusp of a surprise. “Unknown” has the surprise, there’s no doubting that, it’s jut the problem that the lead in provides that makes it an entirely mediocre piece of thriller that’s almost about a nonsensical as you can imagine. The writers literally write themselves in to conundrums throughout the movie as plot points go unexplained, only for them to completely undermine their previous direction, and you can sense them almost trying not to destroy the narrative from minute one.
You just have to appreciate Paramount’s willingness to continue the “Mission: Impossible” franchise in the face of lackluster stories, with very good directors who fix the series to their own styles, yet keep the spirit. There was Brian DePalma’s overrated and cerebral original installment, then John Woo’s brainless, nonsensical but fun sequel, and now, as a last ditch effort, we have J.J. Abrams, creator of one of the most popular spy shows of all time, “Alias.” They have the right idea in mind. Spy movie, recruit spy show director. Voila. Instant magic. Instant magic? Not particularly.