The first movie, directed by Brian DePalma, was decent. It had a balance of espionage, action, Estevez, and a coherent, if not original, story. Danny Elfman was on the score, I liked how the helicopter flew into the tunnel, and it remains the best of the series. For M:I:2, John Woo took over the reins, a director who thought there was nothing sweeter than a man diving through the air in slow motion firing two guns. He sure had T. Cruise doing plenty of that. (Not to mention an infuriatingly deliberate rip-off of D. Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, a crime I've never forgiven.) This was also the movie that opened with T. climbing a remote mountain -- by himself -- for fun. It was the revamped, surfer-slick, X-Games Ethan Hunt, and while his motorcycle tricks were neato, it certainly was not a secret agent movie.
Then for part three, along came J.J. Abrams, a director with more style than skill, and even his style is pretty goofy. I don't remember too much about this one because it was mediocre and forgettable. They gave Tom a shorter haircut again, backtracking to his clean-cut look of the first film. "At least he's keeping a professional appearance," I thought as I lost interest in another scene. I gave this sequel a shot mostly to see P. Seymour Hoffman as the villain. He was good, but what difference did it make? A man can do a perfect breast stroke through the cesspool, but he's still going to stink like shit.
So here we are for part four, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Recon. It's already on my nerves for having a video game subtitle, requiring the use of two colons. Strike one. J.J. Abrams is producing this time, with director Brad Bird on the sticks. Bird's past works include The Simpsons, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles. None too shabby, to be sure, but whatever his artistic talents, they will not be enough to scrape this tired-ass franchise off the floor of the mall bathroom where he found it. The plot: Ethan Hunt & the gang have been disavowed by their superiors (again), and set out not only to serve justice, but to clear their good names. It's like In the Name of the Father, but Cruised.
My favorite part about M:I: Ghost R. is the "story by Tom Cruise" credit! This makes me so happy. I can picture him hunched over a laptop, brimming with positivity, punching out his gems before he forgets them:
1. Make the stakes even higher! (Nuclear war w/Russia?)
2. My character should outrun more stuff than he previously has --- explosions, flying cars, etc.
4. Secret agent team = serious, but sometimes with funny banter. (Must capture real life banter!)
5. Bigger & better gadgets. Research gadgets that could help with climbing.
6. Hair ==> long?
While I am not exactly a fan, I like T. Cruise. He's a gentleman and a great tipper. Nutty maybe, but a kind fellow. Still, at nearly 50, I wonder how much satisfaction he can possibly derive from making the same old movie for the same old audience. If this series had a semblance of continuity, it might have worked over four films. What if Ethan led the same core team of agents, like in the show? If he had the same boss/friend for more than one movie, a double-cross would actually be a surprise! Hell, five different James Bonds had the same Q. But nope. Swap Jon Voight for Anthony Hopkins, for Billy Crudup, for Tom Wilkinson. Makes no difference. They even keep dicking with the classic M:I theme song, giving it a metal edge so as not to be out-harded by the likes of Jason Statham. Aside from Ving Rhames, who apparently couldn't tear himself away from his current project, Straight-to-DVD-Jack-Shit, the only constant we've had for fifteen years is Cruise. That's why it's not Ethan Hunt I see bounding around, blowing things up, acting a fool: I just see T. What's the difference between Knight and Day and M:I 4? Knight and Day showcased Tom's "funny side."
So, T. Cruise, you've retooled and repackaged, recast and retarded, and now you want me to rethink the impossible. I say no, sir, I will not. Fool me three times, shame on me. Fool me: Ghost Protocol, go fuck yourself.
P.S. Sawyer from Lost AND Jeremy Renner? Let the fake tough-guy show begin.
Dorien Sez: C-
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