Mission Insanity— MI4

I was cruising along through Chapel Hill a couple of days ago and my daughter Christy and her boyfriend decided we need to go see the latest Cruise missile in IMAX size. This meant going to the Southpoint Mall in Durham to see the latest installment of the Mission Impossible Saga, in glorious eardrum bursting IMAX complete with rock concert sized sound.

It has been a while since we have had an episode in this film series, and while they have been filled with amazing stunts and scenes, they have not been notably long on plot or dialogue. This film may be the best of the bunch (95% approval rating by Rotten Tomatoes critiques), but it suffers from the same flaws, although it has more fun and funny scenes in it.

For the record this film is 2 hours and 13 minutes long (about average for a thriller these days), is filmed in exotic locations like Dubai (now of skyscraper fame) and Mumbai in India, not to mention Moscow, is PG-13 due to violence and ‘intense scenes’ and entirely lacks any sex scenes, unless you count Paula Powers inexplicably and unnecessarily engaging in her own wardrobe change while riding in a car with Ethan Hawke aka Tom Cruise. No skin to speak of shows up on the screen however. But I digress.

Tom Cruise is famous for doing lots of his own stunts, and this film is no different. The stand-out image in the film (see picture above), is of Cruise playing Spiderman on the outside of the world’s tallest building using some kind of magnetic gloves (how exactly does that work on glass???) to crawl around. Meanwhile the hamsin, or dust storm rolls in from the desert. The scenes really are spectacular and worth seeing and they confirm what we already knew— Cruise is insane and willing to take insane risks to have eye-popping stunts in his movies. If this is what believing in Scientology does to your good judgment, it doesn’t say much for its beneficial effects on one’s brain.

Allowing that one has to suspend one’s disbelief at all sorts of junctures in this movie (like the blowing up of the Kremlin), and allowing for the fact that Simon Pegg, playing the techy-guy with the gadgets, steals various scenes and provides the comic relief, and allowing for the fact that we seem to have an insatiable lust for watching things go boom, and allowing for stereotypically insane and wicked villains (who knew such evil lurked in the heart of a world class Scandanavian scientist), all in all this movie is a fun watch, as long as one doesn’t probe too deep, or expect anything approaching plausibility.

I especially enjoyed the scene in the tiered metallic car park, where Cruise drives a perfectly nice Beamer off a shelf into the bottom of the car-park, nose first, in order to save the world, get the launch codes for a nuclear device, and do in a bad guy who consistently refuses to die despite many assaults by Cruise.

I am not going to bore you with the non-plot of this movie, except to say that the IMF team has themselves been disavowed by the good ole U.S. government after the explosions at the Kremlin, and so they are under a ‘ghost protocol’, which means they don’t really exist as a sanctioned team anymore. In order to redeem themselves they must save the U.S. from nuclear holocaust, launched from a Russian submarine (although in the end, the storyline is that the IMF team is actually on the same side as the KGB agents in the struggle against the Scandanavian mad man— Who Knew??).

This movie, like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and to some degree like Sherlock Holmes deals with spies and undercover daring do and wickedness on the loose in the world. It seems to confirm what we already knew from the Christmas story— that our world is so messed up, it needs a savior to rescue it. But only a Christ figure, not a Cruise missile could get that job done.


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