By all accounts Mission Impossible – Fallout, starring the bionic version of Tom Cruise in more ways than you can count, or would want to – is a hit.
It opened worldwide this weekend and has already accrued about $140,000,000 plus ($60 mill in the US alone) at the box-office.
It is the best reviewed of all SIX films in the franchise, receiving positive reviews from 100% of our country’s top film critics – all of whom should be ashamed at the ease with which they have been lulled, co-opted and otherwise seduced into dropping their necessary job description of sometime party pooper.
And it is a BIG hit with filmgoers, earning a 93% favorable audience rating also from Rotten Tomatoes – the universal, and in this case, totally unreliable, arbiter of what is generally good, bad or middling at the movies.
For in truth, the only area the new M.I. movie excels in is seeming to be a wonderful, diversionary summer entertainment.
Yes, Mr. Cruise looks almost the same as he has for decades if you squint a bit in the way he seems to be permanently doing these days, though to his credit with exactly the same seemingly earnest, genial manner.
And sure, Mr. Cruise also appears to have just as much stamina as he ever did as he drives motorcycles through the streets of Paris at top speed, parachute jumps out of planes from 25,000 feet in the air, and gets in and out of helicopters that he himself glides up and down and through and past various mountain tops and other quite dangerous terrain.
And of course, ABSOLUTELY, for you doubters (Note: Or party poopers, because someone has to be and live in the real world), that IS actually the real Mr. Cruise DOING HIS OWN STUNTS – EVEN THE DANGEROUS ONES!!!
The filmmakers have given countless interviews stating it is this action star’s commitment to authenticity that makes his appearances in this franchise so convincing.
This, of course, is amusing in a film where nothing is convincing or makes much sense at all, even in those rare moments when the twists and turns are discernible. Though those are not to be confused with any other number of other scenes where some poor actor has an unsellable chunk of dialogue designed to summarize the objective of the next set action sequence and make it believable.
There was a time when summer action movies like Die Hard or Indiana Jones (#1 and #3), or even November releases like the Daniel Craig as Bond remake of Casino Royale, found a way to give us death defying thrills along with memorable and even vaguely human characters whose actions didn’t need to be explained but instead simply unfolded. These kinds of films were not so much deep but infinitely watchable diversions where fantastical still things happened and the day was still saved by seemingly superhuman, larger than life guys.
The difference was these guys were flawed, they failed – often fatally – and their outer shells didn’t look as if they had been dipped in formaldehyde and frozen for all time. They were slicker and wittier and quite a bit less wordy than any of us real people but when they spoke they nevertheless actually sounded as if they could be us if we were possessed with great luck, superhuman strength, a fab outfit (or two or three) and one or two fancy gadgets.
What they were not, or at least what they never seemed to be, were manufactured for maximum audience tastes – an amalgamation of major studio index cards.
A director, a writer, an actor or even a costume designer (or some combination thereof) somewhere along the way gave these guys a real soul and took him beyond a carbon copy of an action hero. Instead, they invented a true man who rose into the role of hero, often against his better instincts because at heart you knew that as far as the world goes, he was not crazy enough to think that HE, ALONE, COULD FIX IT.
Of course, the above might be exactly why we have a character like Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt currently burning up the box-office – a guy whose ex-wife even says she sleeps better knowing he’s on-the-job.
It’s an uber desirable contemporary fantasy to have this kind of slick looking guy come in and save us from our worst selves with no discernible super powers other than his own moxie and experience. It’s even more tempting that he be someone who has been around a long time but still seems ageless – with hair that’s a real color and outfits that don’t so much show off his wealth but the flattering lines of his body.
He’s almost like an Apple Edition of our much-needed 2018 action hero – a high tech version with all of the all-American qualities we need to take our country back.
Now, if only he were real – or at least seemed that way. We could either put him to work immediately or use him as a model to train someone else to help get us out of the mess we’re currently in.
As it stands now, however, he’s a mere shell of everything we need. Much in the same way that we are a shell of everything we once were. Or will be, unless we find out a way to rescue ourselves.
That’s our real Mission – should we decide to accept it.