January 11, 2012

January 11, 2012

In My Opinion: Mission: Impossible 4

I can’t claim to be an expert on the M:I movie franchise. Though I’m a fan of the TV series, I’ve only seen the third and now fourth films. Nothing against Ethan Hunt, but he’s no Rollin Hand or Cinnamon Carter. However, as a lover of effects, explosions, and gadgetry, I figured that I’d enjoy M:I 4 on at least a visceral level. Luckily for me, it turned out to be loud and bangy, straightforward, and mostly sexless, which is exactly what I was looking for.

The subtitle of this film, as you may know, is “Ghost Protocol,” which kicks in when the Secretary (which one isn’t clear, but TheBoy voted for Defense) disavows the entire team after a mission gone bad. How bad, you ask? Blowing-up-the-Kremlin bad. So, officially, the IMF (Impossible Missions Force, DO try to keep up) no longer exists, and its former members are considered terrorists of the type usually printed on playing cards.

Team leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is backed by the lady, the techie, and the Mysterious Analyst-with-Field-Skills. The names and backstories of these characters are not within the purview of this review; knowing them may mean you enjoy the movie more, but not knowing them doesn’t mean you enjoy the movie less. ‘Twere ever the way with action films (see: anything with Bruce Willis).

Let’s talk gadgets. The commercials highlight the crazy gloves Hunt uses to scale the world’s tallest building. These are apparently based on actual technology and it is just as “gee whiz” as you’d expect. The camera work in these scenes is phenomenal, btw. When one of Hunt’s gloves shorts out and he’s hanging like two miles above the ground by a single hand, you’re not sure whether you want him to survive or plunge to a gruesome death. I imagine spectators in the Coliseum felt similar.

My favorite bit of high tech is a projector Hunt and the Techie used while in the Kremlin. The projector reflected what was behind it, like an invisibility cloak. Apparently this too is based in reality, which means it’ll be the hot Christmas toy circa 2025.

My favorite bit of low-tech was a bellhop uniform worn by the Techie that had two fake hands in it, so that he could do trickery (diamond swapping, to be precise) with his real hands while using the fake hands to serve tea. Trust me, it makes sense when you see it. It also made me laugh out loud, to the possible chagrin of my fellow IMAX patrons.

(Oh, and speaking of IMAX. Funny story. We went to this on New Year’s Eve, which you may remember was a Saturday night. Hence the showing was pretty crowded, perhaps even sold out. TheBoy and I were one of the first in line, and ended up sitting next to a youngish (mid-teens?) fellow who was saving like six seats. As the theater filled up, numerous people approached the seats and were turned away by the youngish fellow. This became increasingly awkward as we approached showtime and those six seats remained empty. I’m sure late arrivers saw them as a sort of seating mirage. People got testy: “You’re saving the seats? For who? Are they here?” Finally, after the lights had dimmed (!), his companions finally arrived. I think the moral of this story is, if you’re going to do something that annoys a large crowd of people, send a kid to do it for you. They are less likely to be accosted, and cheaper to treat if anything does in fact occur.)

This film didn’t really have any double- or triple-crossing, and I liked that. Good guys were good. Bad guys were bad, and often Russian. It couldn’t have been simpler, unless they’d worn pinnies or colored hats. Also missing: sexual tension, unresolved or otherwise. Despite the presence of an attractive female team member, no one was trying to get it on with her. Just like, y’know, EVERY ACTUAL WORKPLACE. Thank you.

So, yeah, this turned out to be a pretty good flick. Easier to grasp than the last one, with its rabbit’s feet and its Phillip Seymour Hoffman and its bombs exploding in people’s heads. This was good guys vs. bad guys, using gadgets, sometimes in sand storms. As in days of yore. Ooh-rah.

1 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

My only (literally ONE) problem with the M:I franchise, is that the dude (Ethan Hunt in this case) has been disavowed by IMF not once, but THREE FREAKING TIMES, and branded a terrorist. I get it, that's what gives the franchise its awesomeness. But seriously, if I was working for a place that denied my existence/branded me a criminal/tried to have me killed on at least 3 separate occasions, I'd seriously be on my LinkedIn profile, getting my resume all polished up and updated. (I'd be looking for another job, is what I'm saying. One a little less death-threaty.)