Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Other Mission

I used to classify Mission: Impossible with The Saint: A silly updating of a 60s TV show from the late 90s with a low-talent prettyboy star. Actually, I suppose that's true enough, but not the whole story.

First, it was directed by auteur Brian De Palma, not some proficient action film hack. Now, we aren't De Palma fans. I've never even seen Carrie, or any De Palma, except his other Mission movie, Mission to Mars (and Phantom of the Paradise, a long time ago).

Second, it honor the premise of the original show, even using Lalo Schifrin's classic theme song, the second most famous song in 5/4 time. Where The Saint threw out everything but the character's name, the first 20 minutes of M:I could have been an excellent episode of the show. And then they take it way beyond that.

The early night-time scenes in Prague had some lovely lighting effects, and we see plenty of De Palma's dutch-angle (tilted) close ups. After a while, the flashy cinematic effects were either toned down or faded into the background. The famous set pieces work pretty well, like when Cruise has to dangle from the ceiling to steal the information he needs. Obviously a callback to Riffiffi and Topkapi and all the other movies that used this, but a good one. The helicopter in a train tunnel has been done to death, of course, but he pretty much pulls it off.

My favorite part was when he pulls a plot twist and you immediately guess that there is a double twist coming. Instead of making you wait for a whole act before the lame reveal, he just goes right ahead and shows you the trick. It's almost a mark of respect - "I know I can't fool you."

I can't say we loved this movie. Partly, because it had a rather cerebral feel, as if the director were working out a theory of action movies, not actually trying to make one. Also, Tom Cruise is kind of repellent. I know it's just prejudice, but still...

We probably won't watch M:I2 or 3.


mr. schprock said...

The third Mission:Impossible is actually very good. I liked it so much I bought it.

The first two: uh uh.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

Gee, now I have to watch no. 2 so I can watch no. 3!

Although we did skip a Die Hard somewhere.

mr. schprock said...

Number 3 stands on its own. It's the one they got right.

Although you might like number 2. I think the director of that one specialized in martial arts movies. Let me put it this way: I think you'd like number 2 better than I did.