Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hollywood's Best Espionage Agents

Jack Reacher is available on DVD today. It's one of the few recent DVD releases I'm intrigued by. Tom Cruise is not my favorite actor, by any means, but he does a decent job in certain roles. It seems this could be one of them.

The Jack Reacher character is the main reason I may have to make it a Redbox Tuesday tomorrow.

Reacher is a character from a book series by British author Lee Child (real name: Jim Grant).

Here's the back story: Reacher served 13 years in the Military Police, but eventually became part of the 110th Special Investigations Unit. He's no longer with that group though. Now, as an ex-military investigator, he gets roped into a plot that requires his military skills to get out alive. Sounds like it could be a decent action movie.

Will it be a one-time role for Cruise or will the movie turn into a trilogy or series? There are apparently several Jack Reacher books out there already. I'm sure some could be adapted to movies as well.

Of course the real question is: how does Jack Reacher compare to some of Hollywood's other skilled espionage agents?

Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible series)

The first Mission Impossible was released in 1996, making it one of the earlier modern day espionage movies. There's all kinds of fast-paced, innovative action scenes in all four of the movies.

Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, an ever-resilient and impressive member of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) -- part of the CIA. Whether he's riding on a motorcycle, using his side mirror to aim his bullets at the enemies behind him, or whether he's scaling the top of a skyscraper overseas, Hunt usually finds himself in some precarious positions. Somehow he always manages to overcome the odds and return for a welcomed sequel.

Jason Bourne (the 'Bourne' series)

While Ethan Hunt was impressive, Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) took it to the next level in 2002 with The Bourne Identity. He wasn't just a well-trained agent. He's a CIA assassin suffering from amnesia. Despite the memory loss, he still maintained his espionage skills.

Eventually the CIA -- once Bourne's employer -- becomes Bourne's enemy, so he's forced to take on the vast resources of the CIA by himself.

Even though Matt Damon wasn't part of The Bourne Legacy, a spin-off from the original Bourne trilogy, Jason Bourne was referenced and was apparently still on the loose. Being able to avoid capture by the CIA for four films is no easy feat.

Evelyn Salt (Salt, 2010)

One of my favorite performances Angelina Jolie delivered in the past several years was in Salt, the underrated flick about a Central Intelligence Agency spy who is accused of being a double-agent for Russia.

The movie follows as Salt tries to clear her name and keep her family safe. The plot has more twists and turns than a back road in Georgia. That's why the movie is so much fun -- it keeps you guessing.  Salt's quick reflexes and thinking result in her escaping several seemingly inescapable situations.

James Bond (the James Bond movies)

I'm not sure it will ever get better than .007. James Bond (played by numerous actors) pretty much defines espionage movies. Whether he was played by Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Sean Connery or even Pierce Brosnan, he was always a suave, espionage expert.

Daniel Craig's version of James Bond got that much better because it was more of a serious action film than some of the previous incarnations.

He's a believably tough (yet not invincible) agent. You've got to think that with so many incarnations already, no matter what changes the James Bond character goes through, he'll always remain at the top of the heap.

Who's your favorite secret agent?  Go ahead and vote on the poll in the right hand column of the page.

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation - reviewed.
Skyfall - reviewed.
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