Short review: Good flick. Fast, exciting, fairly plotless. "Goes bang good," as we used to say. Won't linger with me, but still just generally fun.
(Warning: I may have some minor spoilers, so be warned.)
First of all, I am not going to discuss Tom Cruise. Even with my unhealthy fascination with Scientology and cults in general, I could careless about TomKat or BabyTomKat (although just the fact I was about to make a choke about calling the child Suri or maybe Sluri says that I know more than I should). His performance is fine. Solid, but this isn't Chekhov. One thing you can say for Tom is that he runs really well. But I do enjoy him as an actor. He has great tiny moments, tiny little things that read both has real and has highly entertaining. At one point he gives a great delivery of the line, "Okay."
What makes this Mission Impossible better than the other two is that it attempts to get back to The Team. The television show was about the team, each person doing their part to achieve the whole. While M:I3 doesn't do it full out, it makes baby step back to that point. Baby steps. And this is my problem with the movie also. A team spy movie should be like a con movie and a heist movie mixed all up. With guns and cool gadgets. M:I3 gets the heist and the guns and the gadgets, but misses the con.
I have been watch the television show Hustle on A&E lately. It has wonderfully complex plans, lies within lies, to achieve their goals. The M:I movies mainly revolve around a tiny misdirection and a lot of running around and shooting things. This mainly revolves around Ethan Hunt (Mr. Cruise) doing the running (Run, Tom! Run!) and shooting (Shoot, Tom! Shoot!). The rest of the team has their support rolls, but for the most part they are tiny. But it is step over M:I1, where the entire team is killed in the first ten minutes, only to be replaced by another team (one of whom is evil). Or M:I2, which to be honest I can't even really remember. Ethan drove a motorcycle, that's all that stuck. M:I3 makes tiny tiny steps towards bring back the team concept.
My other issue is why is there always someone in the organization who is a mole? Why? This is also my issue with the show 24. Every season, CTU is rife with moles. Yes, yes, this allows our hero to "go rogue" and have "the whole world against them," but it is getting real real old. M:I should be about the fact that the government can't have any connection to mission but it needs to get done just the same. "If you get caught, we will disavow our involvement." That's enough. The tv show The Unit is attempting to do this. M:I3 doesn't.
But it goes bang good.
Good stunts, good action. There is a feeling of danger in it, a sense that things can fall apart and fail. I appreciate that. This has always been my problem with Bond films. Every action and plan of Bond works. Well, not every, but darn close. M:I3 allows the action to be risky.
This is what J.J. Abrams brings to the film. Alias always felt like at any moment things could fail. Abrams bring a lot of Alias to this film. Like Alias, the central conflict of the character is trying to balance "normal" life with "spy life." To me it works, if not wholly true to the original series. But it does make our central character more than just a running/shooting/jumping-off-buildings machine. The movie is even framed like the original episode of Alias, starting with our main character tied to a chair with us not having any idea what's goin' on.
There is also a wonderful cameo by Kerri Russell who played the title role in Abrams' show Felicity. Russell was originally considered for the part of Sydney in Alias, but they passed, in part because they were worried about audiences confusing Felicity with Sydney. Here we get to see Russell play the action hero, and even in her short part (and in a short "training flashback montage") we get to see her in that role. It actually, as they say in the business, kicks ass.
The entire cast is fine, but the cream is definite Philip Seymour Hoffman. He plays the villain wonderfully, seething without being cartoony (well, overly cartoony). It's been quite awhile since we've gotten a good villain. Heck, I can't think of the last villain I've really enjoyed watching. Where have all the villains gone?
One last thing, I love the music from Alias and Abrams' Lost. Michael Giacchino also does the music here. It's still good, but he needs to breakaway from his fluttering violins. I know it's his trademark, but having heard it in the final moments on Wednesday's episode of Lost, it just bugged me.
(Okay, one final thing. I love Brooklyn and all, but I have to stop seeing night movies here. Turning off cell phones seems to be beyond them. Only two rang during the movie, but FOUR folks near me had to have short conversations on them. And flipping your phone open to check who just called you when it vibrates is still a disruption. Those screens are like a flashlight in a dark theater. Also, if you are confused in the first two minutes of the movie, give the filmmakers some time to explain it. Don't asked the person sitting next to you. Perhaps if you listened you wouldn't miss so much. AND I don't particularly need to hear your predictions of what will happen next. Especially the next line. If a character is counting to ten and they've just said "Six," you aren't a genius if you guess the next line will be "Seven." I'm not exaggerating on any of these. It was a particularly obnoxious crowd tonight.
I should go. I have some kids to chase of my lawn.)
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