Yesterday I was flipping through Amazon Prime and I noticed that they had a bunch of Mission Impossible movies available for streaming. I thought I had seen them all and I remember generally liking them: they’re silly but they have some interesting stunts and action sequences.
I’ve seen the first M:I film several times, but I couldn’t remember what happens in M:I 2. Well, either I hadn’t seen it or I had blocked it out of my mind, but it was a really bad movie.
Tom Cruise has shaggy hair like Garth Brooks in his “Chris Gaines” alter ego, and 75% of the movie consists of Cruise doing various kinds of flipping moves in slow motion with his hair whipping around. All the John Woo stuff (like doves flying around and melodramatic music during slow-mo action sequences) just looked dumb, not cool.
Supposedly the first cut of the movie was 3.5 hours long, so they cut out huge chunks of plot. So the opening romance between Cruise and Thandie Newton takes about 5 minutes. I presume it’s supposed to be flirty and sexy, but it just seems lame and creepy. Did they really need a camera shot down the front of her shirt into her cleavage? And did they really put in “bow-chicka-bow-wow” music? And then what finally seduces her is when he causes her to get into a car accident?
How much money did they have to pay Anthony Hopkins to get him to spout lines like:
It blows my mind that this was the highest grossing movie of 2000.
Agreed. The worst one, by far. I begrudgingly accept the first one (I still consider their treatment of Jim Phelps blasphemous, it’s still a “good movie” on its own merits though), and they have gotten steadily better since 3.
The only one I can remember with distinction is the first Mission: Impossible film, and that is only because of Jean Reno and the fact that they Executive Decision the still popular Emilio Estevez in the first five minutes of the movie. Oh, and the “red light-green light” gadget was used effectively if absurdly.
All I can recall from the second film was Tom Cruise and Dougray Scot literally gun-jousting and low-siding their motorcycles in a scene that would seemingly never end. The last time I watched it I had the voice of Sterling Archer in my head complaining that nobody was counting bullets because both characters got at least fifty rounds each out of a 15 round magazine without any chance at reloading.
The subsequent movies have been even more generic than the Brosnan-era Bond films and pretty much serve as an opportunity for Tom Cruise to get his extreme thrill buzz on at the expense of a several hundred million dollar movie. Who says Scientology doesn’t work?
Of course, none of the movies have anything thematically or otherwise to do with the original show, which was all about careful planning, coordinated teamwork, and professional improvisation put to Lalo Shifrin’s now classic 5/4 time score. Even the techno-inspired incidental music on the movies is terrible, often becoming so obtrusive you can’t make out what pointless piece of dialogue one character shouted at another.
One Honorable Schoolboy for the entire lot, and that is only because Simon Pegg realizes how stupid his role is and hams it up accordingly.
What I liked about the original 1960s series was how the team worked together. And what I didn’t like about these recent movies was how they’ve turned into star vehicles for Tom Cruise. Plus it’s very annoying seeing him on talk shows talking about how he does all of his own stunts. (Yes, I don’t like him but for whatever reason people around the world pay money to see him in movies, so studios still work with him.)
That’s JJ Abrams for you. I’m morally certain he sits in each initial pitch meeting and says, “Hey, you know what would really be great this time? If Ethan Hunt were disavowed and had to work against his own government! Then we can have someone on his team double-cross him! It’ll shock the audience!” That guy is total one trick pony.
You know, I like them all (well, maybe not III, but I haven’t seen it since it was new. So it’s forgettable, at least), even II, but taken cumulatively, you’d think at some time, Ethan is actually going to go rogue. I mean, how many times can his own bosses doubt him, hunt (no pun intended) him, each time with him proving that he was a good agent, until the next movie, when they don’t trust him again, before he says “fuck it. Why am I busting my balls for this government, when they undemine me at every turn? They keep thinking I’m bad? I’ll show them bad!” In other words, the story arc of Michael Weston.
Plus this whole recurring thing that his precious wife must be sooo protected that they faked her death, but then Thandie Newton is just out there somewhere working in a diner or something?
Despite that, they’re better Bond movies than anything that came out in the last 30 years, excepting Casino Royale. (They’re just not MI movies.)
We went through them all a couple of weeks ago, and came to the same conclusion as the OP. However, I will add a giant caveat - MI2 is hilariously bad. I’d watch it again just to laugh through the ridiculousness, and I’m going to hope and pray that the extended version comes out at some point.
I know that Tom Cruise takes himself far too seriously these days, but somehow, someone got ahold of him before 3-6 and managed to convince him to make these movies a little more tongue-in-cheek than normal. It pokes fun at the entire franchise throughout the last couple installments, and it makes it work. I can’t wait for the next one.
As I understand the tale of the movie’s development, they had planned out the action sequences first, including the infamous motorcycle sequence, and then wrote the rest of the movie around them. Hence the plot literally serves to string together the action.