dir: Christopher McQuarrie
The only thing that could make this cumbersome title more cumbersome would be adding “Part 1” to it, which they did, but they’ve since decided to not call whatever comes next “Part 2”, so what even was the point?
It’s common parlance or criticism to rag on the Fast & Furious flicks as being silly, stupid, physics-insulting etc, and they truly are dumb flicks, don’t get me wrong. But the thing is, wow, in long stretches of this flick I was sure I was watching Fast X. They’re practically the same flick and they also end, after 1300 hours, on a cliffhanger. Which is pretty unsatisfying.
At least this one does not have whatever the fuck it is that Jason Momoa was doing in that other flick.
Instead of Momoa, we have Esai Morales playing an antagonist who is always several steps ahead of the heroes, and presumably won’t make a mistake until the final moments of the next film.
As these films get longer and more complicated, it’s important to remember that none of it really matters, and that Tom Cruise playing these characters in his 60s is becoming increasingly less believable. The older he gets, the more he insists on having long scenes of him running, just to let us know he can still run fast.
We get it, Peter Pan, you can run fast.
The ultimate antagonist in this flick, you’re never going to believe it, it’s an Artificial Intelligence that they call The Entity. The Entity knows all and sees all. Anywhere there’s internet, the Entity is there. It knows everything about our hero Ethan Hunt and his band of merry pranksters, and can easily predict their actions and manipulate them weeks in advance.
It’s just so fucking smart.
The heroes have to spend the entirety of the film trying to find these keys. Keys to unlock…something. The AIs source code is the only thing that can stop it etc etc
So, really, an overly complicated but also simplified plot. Get key – save world from bad computer program.
As such, that’s not that interesting to me, but then none of these plots really are that interesting in and of themselves. There’s always a thing they have to get before someone else gets it, and they travel to five different countries to get it, and the bad guys get it anyway, but the good guys stop it, usually with 0.2 seconds to go.
It is the way of things, not the way of all things, but the way of all things cinematic.
Your mileage may significantly vary with these kinds of flicks, but if you’ve liked the last 3 or 4 of these Mission Impossible flicks, this probably exists in the midway point of that competent continuum. Competent, things don’t look too fake, the action is planned and put together well, people other than Tom Cruise get to exercise their skills and talents.
You’d be surprised how much importance pickpocketing has in this flick. It’s absolutely crucial to the plot, and people get pickpocketed dozens of times.
The important pickpocket is Grace, played by Hayley Atwell. I think the world of Haley Atwell. I am not entirely sure why she’s here, unless the Church of Scientology is planning on offering her up as Cruise’s next sacrificial bride.
Female characters played by Atwell, Vanessa Kirby and Rebecca Ferguson play an extraordinarily important symbolic role in the flick for the Cruise character. I am not 100% sure why, or what they’re angling at. There’s no one on this planet that thinks his character is in love with / having sex with any of these human females. And they don’t even really imply it in the flicks. Well, they sort of do. But the way this flick is structured, or at least the way the plot shakes out, the evil AI decides it has to kill a woman if Cruise cares about them.
And why is that? Um, not sure. There’s a weird flashback showing some woman Ethan Hunt cares about being killed by Gabriel, something like 40 years ago. And now Gabriel is back killing women Ethan ‘cares’ about, as if to say to Hunt / Cruise “Women aren’t the way for a man like you to go, champ.”
It’s about as subtle as saying “Heaven’s in the back seat of my Cadillac, let me take you there.”
So Hunt tells female characters he cares about them, and that he’ll do anything to protect them, even if he’s known them for a few minutes, and he’ll do so, even if he’s trying to save the world.
But if the Entity really wanted to make Hunt sad, wouldn’t it kill off Luther (Ving Rhames) or Benji (Simon Pegg)? They’re not only people he’s known for decades, but the people he works with in trying to save the world each film. Killing them, now that’s downright clever.
But, nah. They are aiming for a weird paternalistic thing. As in, worrying about women is Ethan Hunt’s kryptonite, and a formidable opponent will use that against him, until the very end of the next film, where Hunt presumably saves a woman and the world and beats the evil AI, thus maintaining the strangely pointless illusion of heteronormativity.
But since they effectively replace one woman with another, is that effectively a shoulder shrug of a response, especially as the flick keeps just chugging along?
Vanessa Kirby, who is delightful in everything she’s in, and, I’m not mistaken that she’s in the Fast & Furious movies as well as Jason Statham’s character’s sister, is exceptionally pointless in this flick, but I guess she was in the last one, so… that counts as continuity. In a great testament to her acting abilities she practically eye-fucks Cruise’s character every time he’s in the room. She completely arbitrarily decides that she wants to have a meeting on the Orient Express, a train famous for some reason, so the back half of the film is on this steam train. Gabriel, who clearly is on the side of management and capital, murders many of the staff on the train, for no reason I could discern. He kills the driver and the guy who shovels the coal.
Who’s going to shovel the coal, Gabriel? Did you think of that? Or are you going to bring in non-union scab labour?
There’s no reason why it should, but the engine keeps speeding up, when if anything it would be slowing the fuck down, Gabriel.
In a long, long arsed sequence, all sorts of shenanigans happen on the train, and Ethan is trying desperately to get on to that same train, even though he’s on a motorbike, and that usually isn’t conducive to gaining entry.
Why couldn’t he just buy a ticket like everybody else? Probably because of Skynet, sorry, I meant the Algorithm, why, no, that’s not right I meant the Entity.
So there’s this “famous” stunt which Cruise allegedly did himself, and, I have to say, it’s not really that convincing, and it looks like a lot of CGI is involved, but you can’t say it didn’t happen. Cruise jumps a bike off of a mountain and eventually parachutes his way onto the train.
Or should I say into the train, because that’s somehow what happens, just as someone’s about to hurt Grace.
Really, I don’t think these flicks are that much more unbelievable than those other movies I keep referring to, but at least these are competently put together. I used to have great hopes for Christopher McQuarrie, the legendary screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for The Usual Suspects way back in the day. And then as a director he made the very keen Way of the Gun. Now he’s one of Cruise’s pet lackey directors, so who knows what the Church O’Scientology, or Cruise, or both have on him?
And did I mention that this goes for nearly 3 fucking hours? Did it really need to be that long?
I, being an expert editor of Hollywood movies, can think of at least 15 things you could have cut, but then it’s hard for me to discern the bits that are worthwhile and the bits that aren’t.
And there are some shots of Cruise…all the fillers and botox in the world can only do so much, dude. They are unholy, and they remind you of the grim march of time in the face of our mortality.
It’s okay, it’s just wearisome.
7 times an AI is a lame antagonist for a movie unless there’s a robot standing in for them whose eyes go red when it’s going to do something evil out of 10
“He is not to be underestimated: a master of infiltration, deception, sabotage and psych warfare. For all intents and purposes, ladies and gentlemen, a mind-reading, shape-shifting incarnation of chaos. So, for your safety, and the safety of those around you, do not consider him secure unless you have driven a wooden stake through his open heart. This is not a drill.” – I, too wondered if they were talking about the character or the actor - Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning