Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play Simon and Robyn, a nice couple with a beautiful house who one day happen (?) to run into a high-school acquaintance of Simon’s named Gordo, played by Joel Edgerton, who also directs. Nicknamed “Gordo The Weirdo” when Simon knew him, Gordo finds a way into Simon and Robyn’s lives. Then things take a turn for the strange, especially once Gordo starts making allusions to some dark secret from the past he shared with Simon.
Another release from Jason Blum and Blumhouse, this one has considerably more star power than The Gallows, and in Edgerton, an intriguing, multi-hatted talent. Edgerton’s a familiar face in front of the camera, but he also has considerable scripting experience, having co-written The Square for his brother Nash Edgerton and Felony for Matthew Saville. The Gift is his feature directorial debut, and it looks like the sort of tight, contained genre film at which he could excel. (For evidence, look to The Square.)
This is another one nobody’s seen yet, though the trailer looks promising. (The spoiler-averse should probably steer clear of it, though.)
Jason Bateman anchoring a thriller? Since his Arrested Development comeback, he’s proven himself an always-welcome presence. He’s appeared in all sorts of films, but developed a specialty playing straight men in comedies, albeit often slightly cracked straight men. It’s good to see him pushing outside his comfort zone, but is this too far outside his comfort zone?
ANTICIPATION RATING: 5.8
This one will need the help of a talented cast and some extra oomph from Edgerton behind the camera to transcend what appears to be a fairly generic our-friend-is-crazy premise.
Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his associates in the Impossible Missions Forces are at it again, in what’s sure to be their most impossible-but-probably-not-really mission yet. A shadowy group of rogue assassins known as The Syndicate—a sort of “anti-IMF,” according to the trailer—is their target this time around, but Hunt and the rest of the IMF gang risk becoming rogues themselves when they go after The Syndicate against the wishes of the CIA (led by an extra-oily Alec Baldwin), which is looking to shut down Hunt’s agency.
Cruise returns as the lynchpin of what’s becoming a long-running series, along with newer additions Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, and longtime M:I stalwart Ving Rhames as computer hacker Luther Stickell. As with each new film in the Mission: Impossible film series, though, Rogue Nation brings in a new director this time around. Christopher McQuarrie is probably the least-known of the five directors who have now helmed a Mission: Impossible film; he has an Academy Award for writing The Usual Suspects, and a long partnership with Cruise as a writer (most recently on Edge Of Tomorrow), but his directing resumé has only two entries, 2000’s Way Of The Gun and 2012’s Jack Reacher. Interestingly, this is the first film McQuarrie’s directed that he hasn’t also written. That credit goes to Drew Pearce, who has a lot of experience in the blockbuster arena, having co-written or done uncredited rewrites on Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, and Godzilla.
Outside of some release-date shuffling by Paramount to get M:I5 out of the shadow of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and into the summer-blockbuster sun, there hasn’t been much chatter about Rogue Nation, which hasn’t screened anywhere yet. Most of the hype at this point centers on Cruise’s stunt work, which reaches a new apex in this film when he dangles off the side of a damn plane.
McQuarrie. The Mission: Impossible series seems to live or die on the strength and vision of its directors, and it’s hard to gauge what exactly McQuarrie is going to bring to Rogue Nation outside of a good working relationship with Cruise. Then again, Brad Bird, who had never directed a live-action feature when he helmed 2012’s Ghost Protocol, was a similarly unknown quantity, and ended up turning in one of the series’ best entries. This is McQuarrie’s ball to drop.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 7.6
The series has a near-perfect track record (or perfect, depending on your feelings about John Woo’s second installment), and Jack Reacher is better than its reputation. Mission: accepted.
Don’t call it a reboot. The Griswold family may be heading across the country on a trip to America’s family fun park, Walley World, but now Rusty (Ed Helms), the son of affable bungler Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), is taking his family on a nightmarish misadventure to remember. Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return from the original movies, and Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, and Chris Hemsworth round out the cast.
Vacation is the sixth installment of the National Lampoon series, which is at least two more than most people remember. (Randy Quaid’s “Cousin Eddie” got his own made-for-TV movie in 2003.) Freaks And Geeks fans might be interested to know that John Francis Daley, a.k.a. “Sam Weir,” co-writes and directs with his creative partner Jonathan Goldstein. Together, the two worked on both the Horrible Bosses movies and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, but this will be their feature directorial debut.
Not so much as a trailer yet, but some very positive signs from Warner Bros., which had intended to release the film in mid-November, then moved it to early October, and then were confident enough to move it all the way to late July, where it’ll be up against the fifth Mission: Impossible movie. The first two Vacation movies were also released on that weekend, so the studio is confident lightning can strike thrice.
A continuation of the Vacation-verse isn’t the most promising development, since those movies range from mediocre to the absolute pits, but Helms’ ability to mimic Chevy Chase’s lovable dolt will be the key to making this Vacation better than a rehash. Maintaining the National Lampoon raunch that earned the first film an “R” will also help, though a rating hasn’t been determined yet.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 4.0
Call us pessimists. Or maybe call us realists: We don’t have a trailer to go on yet and we’re basing this rating on the general downward trend the Vacation films have followed over the last 32 years.