Tuesday, July 18, 2023

it's the movie that's impossible

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part One

Oh ghod, I'm not going to go into my history with this series, but the results are that I didn't like #1-3 but was increasingly pleased with #4-6. The Kashmir sequence at the end of Fallout, #6, is to my mind the ideal movie action run.

So what will they do for an encore? (This is #7.) The answer is, having reached the top, they've now gone over the top and down the other side. It has its virtues: despite its length it's never boring, nor is it frantic and tedious like an Indiana Jones, and they've figured out how to combine an emotionally satisfying conclusion with an open-ended continuation for the next movie.

But it doesn't have the charm and appeal of Fallout or its predecessors, and the problem is not just the uncontrollably gargantuan plot and the literally bloodless villain, but what they've done to the characters. Too many of Tom Cruise's stunts are not breathtaking action scenes, or funny as many of them used to be (the Russian prison breakout? the sticky gloves failing as Cruise climbs the Burj Khalifa?) but just getting pummeled for the sake of getting pummeled. And the rest of the IMF has it worse. In the previous movies they were a real team. A large part of what makes the Kashmir sequence in Fallout is that everyone's important. Tom Cruise's heroics would mean nothing without what Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg are doing, even as what they're doing would mean nothing without him. But here? Rhames and Pegg have become disposable secondary sidekicks, and Pegg's frantic episodes have changed from a characteristic into a gimmick. Ferguson's character has tossed away the hard-won status she achieved at the end of the previous movie, and then she's thrown aside in favor of a younger and prettier brunette. The other returning actor is Vanessa Kirby, who used to be a sly amoral operator and is now a kind of absurd comic relief. There isn't even any mention of Michelle Monaghan's character, did you notice that? She used to be the reason for Cruise's character's existence, even as Rhames and Pegg were his inseparable buddies. Now all of that hint of depth in the characterization is gone. When Cruise tells Hayley Atwell, the new brunette, that her life will mean more to him than his own, it doesn't carry any believability because it isn't based on anything.

I want to forget about this movie and deem it uncanonical.

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