Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Movie Review)

10/17/2017 at 6:06 AM (Actors, Crime, Mystery, Nostalgia, Politics, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller)

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a 2015 American action secret agent film co-authored and also directed by Christopher McQuarrie. It is the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series. The film stars Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, and Alec Baldwin with Cruise, Renner, Pegg, and Rhames reenacting  roles from prior Mission: Impossible films.

I am not into too much blood and gore so the theatrics in Mission: Impossible suit me better as I like the fact it isn’t realistic and pulling off is less tawdry because it is presented in a more stylised way within its action frames. Rogue Nation is produced by Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, and David Ellison. In the film, IMF agent Ethan Hunt is on the run from the CIA, following the IMF’s demobilisation as he tries to prove the existence of the Syndicate, a secretive universal terrorist consortium.

The film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation needs to be seen for its action. Talking too much about the plot in a review does no favours to this style of movie. It needs to be watched while having dinner with friends or partner.

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The Associate

10/19/2011 at 12:50 AM (Books, Crime, Thriller) (, , , , )

While I enjoy reading classic literature, I’m not averse to thrilling page-turners either. So here is a review of John Grisham’s The Associate, which was adapted into a movie as well.

Kyle McAvoy is a promising young law student about to graduate from Yale. Editor-in-chief of the law journal, he hopes to perform some public interest law before caving into the lure of money promised in the high-pressure environment of tedious corporate law. This hope crumbles when he begins to be blackmailed by some high-class operatives with a video of his frat boy days, which pinpoints him as a possible accessory to a rape crime that could negatively affect his future employment prospects. What is even worse is that the video includes three of his friends from his frat boy days at Duquesne University prior to attending Yale. He is astonished when demanded he pass on information about some confidential case files between two big warring clients in the military aircraft industry by spying on the firm that he’s expecting to be employed at in the future and about how much information they already possess that should not have been known at all. Foolishly he decides to go along with the plan without consulting his lawyer father, a distinguished public interest law advocate who could have advised him about the right path to take and resolved his problem immediately.

The Associate Book Cover

This double agent ploy, which he is forced to play along with, quickly becomes complicated as he is asked to be involved in the case he specifically requested to avoid. He has to live an isolated lifestyle although a romance starts to bloom with a former mathematician, who is both a colleague and an associate. He realises that his home has been bugged with secret surveillance devices in advance, that he is regularly tailed and has to keep alert at all times to pull one up over his expert blackmailers. Luckily he keeps composites of those who shadow him and before he is about to violate any law ethics, he engages a lawyer for himself who entrusts the FBI to look into the issue. He also confesses the secret he has been hiding to his dad after one of his friends, who finally went clean after being a severe drug addict, also involved in the tape meets a grisly end. His father works out a solution for the tape problem while he has to deal with the consequences of being duped by the blackmailers into doing their dirty work and this time play double agent for the FBI.

The ending though is unexpected and feels unresolved. Perhaps it is to leave room for a sequel but it seems unlikely. We have been fed hints as to who the culprit behind the issue is but we finish reading with no solid conclusion except for a guess. All I can say is if you liked The Firm by this author, The Associate is recommended reading as it is another similar legal thriller.

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The Sign

09/09/2011 at 12:36 PM (Adventure, Books, Environment, Mystery, Politics, Religion, Thriller) (, , , , , )

The Sign, the third book written by author Raymond Khoury, combines a tale of politics gone awry and the realities about the impact of global warming into the plot of a thriller. In the modern world depicted by the writer, the joint forces of pollution of the earth and arising political upheaval gives rise to big arguments between those who believe in evolution and those who believe in creationism. The sign which appears over Antarctica, during the collapse of an ice shelf, as a shape-shifting globe and then vanishes are claimed by the latter group as a divine sign from God. The sign itself was able to arouse my curiosity but all the squabbles regarding its “divinity” put me off. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think this a Bible-thumping book at all but which way you lean politically is likely to effect how you perceive the book. The Sign seemed too technical and science focused for me to like it at first until the thriller part came into play with scientist Danny Sherwood’s escape attempt.

This sign’s appearance is witnessed by Gracie Logan, a science reporter who’s at the right place at the right time. She is boarded on a scientific vessel to cover the breakage of the ice shelf. Deciding to follow the story of the sign and investigate what it means, she is led to Egypt after a tip-off from a priest called Brother Ameen. Her crew sees the sign drawn in a Coptic cave inhabited by a Catholic priest called Father Jerome who is widely regarded as a Saint. The catch is that these images were drawn seven months earlier before the appearance of the sign in Antarctica. In regard to Gracie and her TV crew, I feel the descriptions were just too long and the debates on creationism versus evolution were too much on the preachy side to be enjoyable. Those characters became marginally of interest only after the death of a main crew member in Egypt in shady circumstances.

The Sign Book Cover

Image from: booksellers.penguin.com

Once Boston’s Matt Sherwood, reformed car thief, was added to the equation after learning about the possibility that his brother’s death was a murder from his best friend, the plot becomes more action-packed and the pace begins to accelerate significantly. The short chapters and simple to read prose keeps you turning pages more because you are interested in where the plot will lead rather than because the characters arouse your sympathies. This is a plot-driven novel which doesn’t really care much to endear the characters to you. This is all about the characters going from Point A to Point B and to Point C in pursuit of the ending. Perhaps this is because of the writer’s credentials as a screenwriter – it is a lot easier to imagine this as a blockbuster with a lot of action. This book may have the pace of an adventure written by Dan Brown but because it considers much deeper subject matter such as global warming and environmentalism in almost lecture mode, I feel it’s more of a science fiction about corruption in religion and politics rather than the plot of a religious thriller featuring religious figures from myths and legends of the past. It almost feels like you’re reading something academical when reading bits of the book not involving Matt’s physical encounters with the Bullet as he tries to find out what really happened to Danny Sherwood, his kid brother.

This book will bring enjoyment for a fan of quickly moving adventure thrillers if you don’t mind lectures with an agenda sneaking into your fiction. For me, this detracted from having a wholesome reading experience. If a book claims to be a thriller, I have different expectations of content rather than politics and the possible dangers to humanity through global warming. This is not a religion-bashing book either as the final solution to the corrupt plans by the state and the military who are at odds with each other seems open-minded. But while I didn’t dislike this book, I believe it could have been written a lot better.

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