I think I know J.J. Abrams’ weakness when it comes to his projects – he’s a premature ejaculator. Seriously, this guy either finishes up the fun part(s) way before he should, or he simply pulls out of the storyline, and abandons it. I’ve seen this problem with Alias series, MI3 movie, and I’m afraid the same fate awaits Lost. Abrams can put on a great show, but he leaves it altogether (or in the wrong hands), and the project implodes or loses its track. Mission Impossible is a disappointing movie in the franchise, but it’s a very good action flick on its own. It wants and tries to be so much more, and for the first half or so – it succeeds. Tom Cruise (you know, the guy who owns the franchise, calls all the shots and controls the universe) made a good choice hiring J.J. Abrams, but he should have been involved in the editing process, or at least, read the script from the end to the beginning a few times. All the elements are there, but what starts off as an intense spy caper becomes a loud, flashy action film – worthy of summer blockbuster title, but unfortunately, not being able to live up to its name. The mission is very much possible, and very much tired. And if you’ve been watching action dramas on TV (24, Alias, the Unit), you might just be bored. Let’s not even compare this franchise to Jason Bourne series.
I was bored by Tom Cruise. Long ago, the schmuck could act, but nowadays he’s got so much luggage, and his antics have earned him so much public distrust that I couldn’t see Ethan Hunt. All I saw was a Scientology goon, with a pregnant underage wife, and a babyface. Maybe it’s my problem – I couldn’t see past his persona. Or, perhaps the script kept showing him in a light that just didn’t fit, and the cameras kept following his every move. By the way, did anyone even notice that Mission Impossible series have always featured a great cast (and in the first film, it was the cast that “sold” the film – Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Vanessa Redgrave were actually doing promos, they had posters, quotes, entire scenes). So what the hell happened here? I think I saw the promos and the posters (how could you avoid the marketing campaign), but holy crap – Larry Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Simon Pegg? Do these people have agents? Why didn’t anyone bother to give them more screen time, and more lines? Mission Impossible is not “Ethan and Co”, it’s an ensemble piece, it’s gotta have all people working together, having their moments… Ving Rhames (Luther) was reduced to one-liners – Marcellus Wallace was a comic relief! And Simon Pegg – nevermind that he’s a carbon copy of Marshall (Kevin Weisman) from Alias – he was completely flat. A tech geek like that steals a movie – but you gotta give him a few lines here and there. I think by the end of the movie I just got tired of seeing Tom run around, and looked forward to the support characters to enter the screen. Even with one-liners, Rhames and Pegg were highlights, whereas Tom looked like a computer-generated action hero (probably how it was done anyway).
As for the plot, that’s where the premature ejaculation theory comes in. The movie is wound up from the start – you don’t have a minute to catch your breath. However, as the nemesis faces off with Tom, and a big conspiracy is revealed, the elements are just left on the board. It’s as if by showing one last twist, the story needs no telling anymore. Not even further development. It was literally like “I’m the traitor! Surprised? I knew you would be… So, anyway, I’m the traitor, and I did all those bad things, and I shouldn’t be trusted anymore… Seriously, weren’t you surprised to find out that I was the traitor all along?..” This twist is hammered into our heads one too many times, instead of writing a few lines to let the characters deal with the traitor. Yeah, I get it, this was a bad guy who appeared to be a good guy earlier – do you really want me to gasp – it’s a spy movie! Let’s move on with the plot. So much intensity leads up to the confrontation, and then the two guys just beat the crap outta each other. All the gadgets and the best team support in the world – and these two are just hitting each other with fists? What the hell?! Yes, that’s writing at its best. I say J.J. simply got bored with the film, and just left things in the air. No resolution, no follow-up, no satisfaction.
The film is fast-paced, smart, and stylish. Too bad it never moves above the level of an action flick. Tom should loosen up a bit, and let other people do their work – i.e. write, act, direct. And J.J. should stick through with his projects, and actually live up to the tease he promises from the beginning. If you want an intense action flick to occupy your evening, go and see it – especially if you haven’t been following Alias and 24. But if you’re interested in investing your time in a solid, long-lasting franchise – go rent two Bourne movies – you’ll be wanting to see more “cool spy stuff” afterwards.