If your binge high is over after watching La Femme Nikita and now you are chasing that feeling, check out this list of shows.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Amazon’s excellent reboot seems more interested in interrogating Bond movies and television domestic dramas than its thin source material.
So, remember that movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Not the Alfred Hitchcock Mr. and Mrs. Smith from 1941, the Doug Liman one about the two married assassins that end up trying to kill one another? (No, Scott Bakula was in the television show from the 90s about two married assassins called Mr. and Mrs. Smith.) This is the 2005 movie with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Remember all the tabloid stories about their relationship? Great! Do you remember the film itself? Kinda? Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of movie it was. Neither good nor bad, Mr. and Mrs. Smith modestly cleared the “watchable” bar mostly on the backs of its cute premise, Pitt and Jolie’s magnetism, and competent (if unremarkable) direction.
It is, in that respect, a perfect candidate for a reboot - just good enough for you to wish someone had put in the work to make it better. Now, almost twenty years later, someone has. Continue Reading →
The AppleTV+ spy series retains its humor but gives viewers its most tightly plotted effort yet.
Slow Horses Season 3 reiterates how the series differs from so many other TV shows. While critics frequently discuss film as a director’s medium, television tends to be more showrunner—and thus writer—driven. While Horses indeed derives many of its pleasures from the writers—the returning trio of Will Smith, Jonny Stockwood, and Mark Denton once again man the pens—each season’s unique tone owes to its single director.
James Hawes made the series’ debut season a workplace comedy where the occasional gun battle might break out. Season 2 darkened or ditched much of the comedy for a bleaker, higher action affair under the direction of Jeremy Lovering. In Slow Horses Season 3, Saul Metzstein doesn’t push the team back into the offices. If anything, Slough House appears even less than in Season 2. However, he does re-up some of the mismatched colleagues’ humor, particularly when it comes to the team’s most recent additions, gambling addict Marcus (Kadiff Kirwan) and drug addict Shirley (Aimee-Ffion Edwards). He also further deepens the emotional stakes with a light touch, adding depth to ever-growing complications. Continue Reading →
One of the common complaints about Marvel’s attempts at multiverse storytelling is that it renders everything meaningless. If there is another Ikaris of the Eternals out there—or a possibly infinite number of them—why should one care if the one in front of us dies? Generally, this writer finds the argument unconvincing. If I told you there were infinite versions of your friend out there in the multiverse you might someday meet, you’d still care quite a bit to see your version die in front of you. Continue Reading →
Special Ops: Lioness
Taylor Sheridan believes in a very particular strain of the badass woman archetype—steely-eyed, whiskey-drinking, stoic badasses who refuse to be seen as anything other than the HBIC. There's a poetry to their confidence, a mystery to their vulnerabilities. They have no time for feminine pursuits and will be the first to tell you their Myers-Briggs type (ENTJ, obviously). The world might implode if Yellowstone's Beth Dutton ever picked up an Avon Paperback Romance. Continue Reading →
From De Palma's series launcher on, Cruise has used the tales of Ethan Hunt to ponder the nature of cinema as performance, perception, and manipulation.
The Mission: Impossible movies begin in perhaps the most inauspicious fashion possible: a computer tech, played by Emilio Estevez, watching security camera footage of clandestine crime scene clean-up. One of the men he's watching happens to be Tom Cruise in heavy prosthetics and a wig. It's an odd opening for an eight-film mega-franchise, a globe-trotting stunt spectacular that has attracted some of the world's biggest stars and most interesting actors—America's answer to Bond movies. But as the opening to a Brian De Palma movie, it's a no-brainer. Of course it starts with a dorky guy in a cramped little room watching unappealing CCTV footage of a crime of passion. That's De Palma.
Though Robert Towne wrote the script (he and Cruise were friends and artistic confidants; Cruise produced his 1998 movie Without Limits), the film is thoroughly De Palma's, never more so than when indulging in its covert operations. He films the opening sting from Cruise's POV, and its dizzying effect is rather like the opening to Dario Argento's Opera or its fellow perverse Italian horror thrillers. It is always disconcerting when movie characters address us but speak to someone else when we see what the hero sees see but cannot control what they do. We are seeing a performance from the inside, knowing that if the scene doesn't go off without a hitch, it could mean death for the man whose eyes we've been given for the duration. The Mission: Impossible movies have since changed directors four times, but their central tenet remains: they are about performance. They are about making movies to make sense of a senseless world. Continue Reading →
Ghosts of Beirut
Throughout the near-240 minutes of Showtime’s Ghosts of Beirut, the four-part espionage thriller introduces dozens of characters scattered across the Middle East. CIA agents, Mossad operatives, and various members of the Islamic Jihad Organization all get time within these four hours of television. Creators Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz attempt to give all perspectives in this story, including that of terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, the central figure of this story, and so, the series consistently remains too limited. Continue Reading →
National Treasure: Edge of History
If the National Treasure movies had existed in the ’80s, Disney totally would’ve made a TV show spin-off in the ’90s. They would’ve shifted to younger (and cheaper) teenage actors and depicted them scouring the globe for treasures connected to significant historical landmarks. It would’ve made a decent, but not exceptional mark on pop culture back in the day and now sit close to the hearts of countless 25 to 35-year-olds. Continue Reading →