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M:I 4 - Starring:
Tom Cruise
as Ethan Hunt

Jeremy Renner
as Brandt

Simon Pegg
as Benji

Paula Patton
as Jane

Sherlock Holmes 2 - Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
as Sherlock Holmes

Jude Law
as Dr. John Watson

Noomi Rapace
as Madam Simza Heron

Jared Harris
as Professor James Moriarty

Written by Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec

Directed by Brad Bird

Running Time: 2:13

Rated PG-13
for sequences of intense
action and violence.

Written by Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Running Time: 2:09

Rated PG
for intense sequences of violence
and action, and some drug material



Both Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows were really fun films, with the former having tremendous set sequences and the latter having more overall action and a more entertaining story.


Trying something a little different this time by reviewing two films at once, since I saw them both back-to-back in one night, which is something that rarely happens. I started with Mission: Impossible on the IMAX which was pretty nice. Only a small percentage of the film was actually shot for IMAX screens, but the ones that were looked spectacular. The movie took place mostly overseas so there were these amazing views of Dubai and Russia as the camera flew over cities and buildings. The initial shot of the world's tallest building - the Burj Khalifa - was breathtaking (and a little scary). But it was the scenes that took place there that were really heart stopping. The movie starts with Ethan Hunt being broken out of prison and immediately sent to Russia to break into the Kremlin in order to stop someone from getting nuclear launch codes. The plan goes sour and instead of stopping disaster, Hunt and the rest of the IMF are disavowed. The teams gets a chance to clear their names, but must do so without any help from the outside. This leads to a scene at the Burj Khalifa that will rival any action sequence in any movie to date. Ethan has to climb UP the side of the building using only these new gloves that suction on to the glass. Except the suction doesn't always function which is nerve wracking in itself. But when he has to get back to the room in a hurry he's go no choice but to THROW himself out of a window, repel down the side of the building and then throw himself back into the room he started. And let's face it. Tom Cruise isn't a young man anymore and neither is his character, so mistakes are going to be made. While you know perfectly well they're not killing off is character the sheer brilliance in the way it was filmed actually had me on the edge of my seat. That one scene alone is worth the price of admission, and that doesn't include all the other action sequences that take place during the movie. It was just that there action scenes were so amazing that the time in between them felt very slow, and the ending of the film felt really tacked on.

Then there was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which finds our hero matched in a game of wits against Professor James Moriarty, the one man who may actually be smarter than Holmes. There have been a series of bombings worldwide that no one except Holmes sees a connection between. He knows it's Moriarty, but the problem is getting the proof. And every step Holmes makes, Moriarty seems to be one step ahead, continually confounding Holmes and Watson. But for Holmes it becomes more than just solving a puzzle - it becomes personal when Moriarty takes away from Holmes the one thing he has loved more than anything. I was a fan of the original film because I loved the actors, I loved the overall visuals and the music really stood out. The sequel mines the same stuff, but this time adds the perfect villain in Moriarty, someone who can actually match wits with the great Holmes. I've read a couple of the Sherlock Holmes books, so I know what a great nemesis Moriarty becomes. His reasoning for what he did was sound, and the patience he had to make sure everything worked out in his favor was refreshing. Most villains want what they want immediately, but Moriarty was more than happy to wait years for his vision to come true. And it was seeing our hero faltering and questioning himself that really made this movie. That and the almost non-stop action that takes place.

I was surprised because I think all in all Sherlock Holmes probably had more action than Mission: Impossible, but they were different types of action films. While Mission: Impossible was very high tech and futuristic, Sherlock Holmes was obviously very old school. Cruise and company had gadgets that were out of this world, with one scene that included something that I think may actually exist and could be the precursor to all of us getting Invisibility Cloaks. Downey Jr. and his motley crew had to go with the usual gunfire and swords, and included the fun scenes of Holmes mentally figuring out how he was going to break down his opponents, which lead to a tremendous final scene against Moriarty where both of them could see how the fight was going to end. What I also really liked about both films, as I mentioned above, is how our heroes weren't infallible. Ethan Hunt has lost a step or two and while he can fight his way out of most situations, he almost dies a couple of times because his timing isn't what it used to be. And of course Holmes is always seemingly a step behind Moriarty and is constantly wondering if what he's doing is right. He's got people who believe he's the smartest man alive, but he knows that in this case, he's not. Making our heroes question themselves and fighting against their own fears to succeed made both of these movies a lot of fun.


So overall, I enjoyed both Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. There were some subtle similarities between the two main characters and both had some great action sequences. Mission: Impossible had better set pieces, while Sherlock Holmes had more action and a better overall story. But both are definitely worth seeing.

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Reviewed 12/17/11

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