I wanted to like Mission: Impossible V, I really did. I’ve been a long time fan of Tom Cruise, and feel he got a bum rap. Yes, he’s a Scientologist. What can I say, it’s a Hollywood cult that works for some actors, John Travolta being the other big example. As long as you’re not obnoxious — or dangerous — with your cult, what do I care? You want to believe that aliens rule the world, more power to you.
And he had a couple rants, like the one about psychologists — where he wasn’t completely wrong. And he jumped on Oprah’s couch. So what. Compared to what a lot of big stars do, that’s nothing. It does not negate his excellent performances in Born on the Fourth of July, Eyes Wide Shut, A Few Good Men, and The Firm, nor does the public now feel repulsed by early favorites Risky Business or Top Gun.
Eyes Wide Shut
Born on the Fourth of July
But people just can’t forgive couch-jumping. I was dismayed that last year’s superb sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow didn’t do better at the box office, so when MI V came out and received universal praise, I was pulling for it. When the widely panned Fantastic Four was released on MI V’s second weekend, I was rooting for MI V to come out on top — and it barely did. I figured reviews and word of mouth had won — this one time at least — over marketing. It was almost as good as the Yankees losing.
Then I had the sad misfortune to watch the movie.
* * *
A Most Wanted Man, for its myriad of issues, struck a sober tone, one of melancholy; an atmosphere which allows one to believe, and thereby be absorbed, into the story — if only it hadn’t been so mangled. MI V doesn’t go that route, rather choosing a James Bond tack. A tack which often worked for 007, but sure doesn’t here.
MI V fails because the silly approach undermines the movie’s attempts to present a serious, or at least exciting, spy thriller. When Tom Cruise is delivering nominally serious lines, I felt completely numb to them — indeed I had a hard time believing anything other than the comic relief.
If you can’t be deft enough to skirt your spy flick between sober and comic — in other words, if you can’t find that Bond film balance, then choose one side or the other. Go the way of A Most Wanted Man, or for a more fun but still serious approach, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Decide you’re an exciting thriller. Or decide you’re a comedy, like Spy. Though Spy sets out no more than to make you laugh, the dramatic storyline works a helluva lot better than MI V — or Skyfall, for that matter.
So all this makes MI V an incredible bore; if I didn’t have a blog I would almost have walked out. I mean Mr. Holmes’s bees generated unencumbered enthrallment compared to this clunker. An abundance of blatant ripoff Microsoft product placement didn’t help. On the positive side: a night at the opera, one good vinyl self-destruct scene, two good action sequences, a small handful of “cute” moments, and cool beginning and ending credits. 3/10
UPDATE: Now 4/10