Friday, 14 August 2015

Mission:Impossible - Rogue Nation; coming soon to a Ryanair near you


RYANAIR announces new premium “Tom Cruise Seating” on selected flights to European destinations.

I am indebted to Scott Meyer for the insight that the Mission Impossible movies should really be called “Tom Cruise: The Dangler”; I had thought that Tom’s schtick was a mixture of running and grinning, but now I see he’s got a sideline in hanging off stuff. Also, as Scott points out, they might as well not be called Mission Impossible in the first place because every damn time the Impossible Mission Force is being disbanded rather than getting missions. These are smarter points than anything I’d managed to come up with; they’re probably smarter than most of the things in the actual movie.

I made the mistake of bringing a little too much movie awareness to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, [1] so that when I noticed that half the production companies involved were Chinese, I sat through the rest of the movie waiting for a big ticket action sequence set in China. Don’t make the same mistake. As Chinese as it gets is a performance of Turandot half way through the set up, which looks as though the Vienna Statsoper did their stage design by way of a series of pre-dawn raids on Chinese restaurants somewhere in the 19th district. So, no China doesn’t have anything to do with the action, though people who are missing William Randolph Hearst can ponder the thought that a movie about a threat to the American way had to be bankrolled by China. The rest of us can just laugh at the idea that the villains of the piece are “an anti-IMF”, which is going to complicate the marketing in all kinds of German colonies.

It’s important not to expect Mission Impossible movies to make any kind of sense, because that kind of thing would just distract you from the stunts. So, don’t even think about the fact that the McGuffin this time around is the world’s biggest Amex card despite the fact that the Syndicate shows no signs of needing any money to maintain a positively ludicrous level of operational readiness. After all, we’ve all seen how apparently rich people turn out to be completely broke as soon as anyone is crass enough to ask them to pay their bills. The Syndicate probably has the same problems. Though it’s certainly not looking at any kind of pension fund shortfall; like every other bunch of super villains in Hollywood history, the Syndicate’s human resources strategy is long on suicide missions and short on employee retention, and like every other Dr Evil ever, the head villain is one of those clowns who shoots otherwise perfectly useful staff to make a point to the ones he can’t trust. No wonder evil always loses; this is no way to attract and retain the kind of talent a world class world domination plan requires.

Tom gets his dangling out of the way early, hanging off the outside of an Airbus, in a move which no doubt has Michael O’Leary wondering whether he can charge extra to do the same thing for some lucky passengers next year. It’s a pretty cool stunt, even if you don’t know that it was done for realsies. It works partly because it’s a scary looking stunt in the middle of a great piece of workplace comedy as everyone else in the Impossible Mission team argues about how to stop the plane from taking off with all the nerve gas on board. Which is pretty much the template for the Mission Impossible movies these days; everyone who isn’t Tom Cruise bickers entertainingly while Tom Cruise does something physically dangerous that somehow solves the problem everyone else is arguing about. Sadly, that opening stunt sets the bar too high for the rest of the movie, so that the climax feels like a damp squib even though it’s actually a pure Mission Impossible TV show ending, trapping in the chief villain in a glass box by outwitting him rather than by dropping half London on his head the way a Marvel movie would.

Single saddest performance in the movie; Jeremy Renner’s perma-wrinkled forehead seems to be less a matter of acting and more a matter of wondering how the hell he keeps being the fifth wheel in franchise movies. Joint second place goes to everyone in the Syndicate for having a job that consists of being on screen for just long enough to get killed by Tom Cruise. Prize for stealing all of Jeremy Renner’s karma goes to Simon Pegg, who is enjoying the most improbable career ever playing roles which ought to have serious actors in them (like, I dunno, Jeremy Renner) but instead have a nerdy comedian. Knocking it out of the park, I have to admit, but it’s still weird. 

[1] They nearly pulled off a punctuation mark between every pair of words...

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