The Mission

The Mission ★★★

Feels very rudimentary (unsurprising given the reportedly lightning fast production), but is another solid example of Johnnie To's distinctive style. It's a crime piece that's simultaneously intensely straight-faced and playfully laid-back, alternating between clinical professionals deftly executing their job and the comedic tedium that arrives once the shooting ceases. We witness the unusual camaraderie that builds between these men as coordination is the only way to avoid death, the charismatic cast creating a plausible connection and making the most out of their basic roles. However, that simplistic scripting does cause issues structurally. There are some superb sequences, the shopping mall shootout with its spellbinding blocking and framing in particular, but too many plot beats seem hastily thrown together; the principal 'mission' itself just ends unremarkably and it's like the film adds a further conflict because it suddenly realised it needs a more eventful conclusion. The lack of background details can also make this criminal world feel rather hollow and the upbeat score is ill-suited to the imagery.

Luckily, it always has that ultra-cool vibe to fall back on and I'd be lying if I said that watching these dudes operating in perfect harmony wasn't satisfying.

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