I’m not really a big fan of Tom Cruise the person as he’s been portrayed in the press. He comes off as a nutjob crackpot with a quirky religion. I still can’t believe he divorced Nicole Kidman and married Katie Holmes. That scene on the Oprah show where he’s dancing on a couch? If I knew someone like that in real life, I’d be highly suspicious around them, afraid they might snap at any second. I’m still waiting for the inevitable news that he’s pulled a Mel Gibson on some ass of a tabloid photographer.
Tom Cruise the action hero, though? Him I can get behind. Who can forget Maverick in Top Gun? Minority Report was awesome (it wasn’t Dick, but then there isn’t an adaptation of his work that is, so why bother to compare?). Have you seen Collateral? I recommend it. Cruise as a smooth, cold-blooded killer is great. He’s played cops, samurais, Nazis, spies, sports agents, vampires, and one over-weight Jewish studio executive. All with the aplomb and talent of a real movie start.
He’s pretty eclectic in his choice of roles, but there is one character that he keeps coming back to: Ethan Hunt, IMF agent.
The franchise started way back in 1996 (HOLY CRIPES! THAT’S A DECADE AND A HALF AGO!) when Brian De Palma brought the Mission: Impossible series from the television to the big screen in traditional summer blockbuster style. Two sequels followed in 2000 and 2006, each with a different team headed by Ethan Hunt, each with a different impossible mission, and each with a new director. The lastest sequel, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol just opened and one thing is evident about Tom Cruise throughout all four of the movies.
The man can fucking run.
I mean there are some action heroes who can kick ass on screen (i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger), more that are funny and imminently watchable despite not having much acting ability (i.e. Jacky Chan), but there aren’t many action heroes who run as much as Tom Cruise does and even fewer who can do so without making viewers break out laughing (I’m looking at you, Steven Seagal).
In this movie, it felt like about half of it was Ethan/Tom running. Running away from explosions. Running away from sandstorms, Running after cars. Running after trucks. Running after bad guys. Running after nuclear missile launch codes. Running out of prison. Running to the bathroom (I didn’t see it, but it had to have happened sometime). Run, run, run, run, run.
I swear to, Geebus, when the movie was over, I was out of breath. And that’s probably why I loved the movie so much. Oh it helps that J.J. Abrams (who re-vitalized the franchise with M: I III after John Woo almost killed in with M: I II) is producing the film. The fact that Brad Bird (who is so great putting together animated movies like The Incredibles and Iron Giant) is directing really brought it up a notch, as well. And gawd, who can discount the fact that Simon Pegg is the comic relief in this installment? But even then, the reason I enjoyed this film so much was the fact that when it ended, I sat there and realized I was holding my breath.
I was so invested by the time they were throwing out the final jump cuts as the action reached a crescendo that I was literally gripping at the arm rest, grinding my teeth.
While none of the three sequels ever held a candle to the original film (come on, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Beart and Ving Rhames? No contest), number four really comes close. The cast may not be as spot on as number one, but the action is unbelievably good.