This past week I became a full-on convert to two new ways of thinking. First is the obvious superiority of Dr. Pepper to all other pops. I can’t believe it took me so long to come to such an obvious conclusion. I’ve been trying to force the idea that Coke was the way for me and even wasted countless hours debating it’s superiority over Pepsi only to now, halfway through my twenties realize that I was looking in all the wrong places for the best pop to drink.
So how did I come to this revolutionary realization? Well, one day I was drinking some Coke and thought, “man this is some really tasty stuff.” but then I drank some Dr. Pepper and thought, “wait a minute. This is better.” and so my heathen ways were corrected.
The only marginally more serious conversion was to the belief in Tom Cruise as an action star and JJ Abrams as a director. I honestly didn’t get what the big deal about Cruise was. Like he’s a perfectly fine actor but there isn’t anything about him that should qualify him to be as famous as he is. Then I watched Mission Impossible III and Ghost Protocol. Absolutely blown away.
How weird is it for an action franchise to start as mediocre as Mission Impossible, then have a genuinely terrible sequel and somehow manage to turn the whole thing around in the third installment? This sort of rebound has got to be an absolute marvel of filmmaking and I do think that a lot of the credit should go to JJ Abrams for his direction on the movie. One of the things that really makes MI:3 work so well for me is that there is this constant and natural emotional weight to the film in the form of Ethan’s struggle to make his relationship and his life outside of spying work. The film begins with Ethan seeming to have found that balance training new recruits and leaving field work, but when one of his most talented trainees is captured Ethan feels compelled to upset that balance he’s achieved and that’s what really gets the ball rolling on the story.
I also found MI:3 to be really interesting because it seems to predict how serious movies action movies were going to try to be and counteracts that be just being a very fun spy movie. How many of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies would you describe as fun? Don’t get me wrong I like most of them a lot, but there is rarely a sense of joy within them and I really think that’s something that makes Mission Impossible unique, there isn’t this pressing need from the movie to be politically relevant or for the story to be immune from plot holes. The sense of fun comes from a distinct emphasis on fun and entertainment being the purpose of the movie and there really not needing to be a message behind it. Meaningful media is great and I generally encourage it, but if everyone is trying to be so profound it changes the way we see society it all gets very sad and a chunk of the magic of movies gets lost in it all. Again this is something I feel Abrams really gets. He strikes me as someone who doesn’t think his job is to be a provocateur, but to tell interesting and entertaining stories and by golly if MI:3 isn’t just the best case example for it.
Now I did briefly mention that I had also watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol so I should say a bit more about it. Although most of what I said about MI:3 could be applied to this movie as well. While MI:3 carved out a distinct niche for the franchise to live and I more or less feel like Ghost Protocol just tightened the screws on a very solid formula. The stunts are just a bit crazier, (ok the building one was just nutty) the jokes a little funnier, (mostly due to more Simon Pegg screentime) and of course the action is just a bit tighter. (Jeremy Renner’s is a surprisingly great pairing to Cruise for that) So basically Ghost Protocol is in my eyes a more well-done version of MI:3, but it works because the Mission Impossible franchise has carved out that niche of being fun spy movies that there is that sense of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it for the movies. I’m totally turned around on the Mission Impossible franchise and I’m pumped to watch Rogue Nation and Fallout in this coming week. Long live Cruise.