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.
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.
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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