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Archive for March 23rd, 2008

The other day I caught Mission Impossible III on the telly. I was surprised since I didn’t know it had even released! And I’m usually very clued in about such things. I mentally kicked myself because when I thought about it, I did remember seeing a picture of Tom Cruise at an MI:III promotional event (I think).

Anyway, I had nothing better to do and MI:III is always compelling watch considering it was the most expensive flick by, and resulted in huge losses for Paramount. This eventually led to the severance of ties between the studio and Tom Cruise. Plus, as a film aficionado you can’t not watch MI:III.

MI:III was mired in controversy from the very beginning. First there were scripting issues. Tom Cruise wasn’t entirely happy with any of first two drafts. Then he settled on JJ Abrams, the celebrated director of the series Lost, as the script doctor. So the final draft was a mish mash of inputs from three writers.

Then there were asinine acts by Tom Cruise – the unwanted parental advice to Brooke Shields and the entire couch-jumping thing on Oprah.

And after being in the news for all the wrong reasons, come release, and the film came and went without a ripple. At least I don’t remember any hype around the release (I welcome any feedback to the contrary). Contrast that with the latest Bond Flick which was perhaps the most popular Bond flick ever.

Anyway, I sat through MI:III and my reaction was indifference. It wasn’t spectacularly good, nor was it abysmally bad. It was so-so. The plot is ho-hum, the script is adequate. The action is consistently of a high quality but then that’s par for course these days. Plus, in the end you don’t even get to know what the fuss was all about.

In MI:III, like in its latest Bond counterpart, Tom cruise deliberately chose to adopt a higher emotional quotient (the lack of which in earlier drafts led to Tom Cruise’s satisfaction) so you get an added romance track. Sadly that track too falls flat. While there was great chemistry between Daniel Craig and Eva Green, there’s no chemistry between Tom Cruise and the female lead.

So what ails the MI franchise? They have the same superhero-ish protagonist, they wow us with the same hi-tech gadgetry, they dazzle us with the same spectacular action.

In my opinion, it is the suspension of disbelief. The answer lies in the vein in which the two franchises are created. Bond films are essentially a little out there. Bond films are full of attitude, the hero so unashamedly an MCP, repartee-ing his way through saving the world (even in the latest, grittier Bond flick the producers have that intact), the villains so caricature-ish that, right from the beginning you suspend your belief willingly. Anything that comes after that; a villain who breeds giant squids or whose eye bleeds, or a gun that fires from the muzzle or a car with an invisibility shield; is swallowed. No questions asked.

On the other hand the MI films take themselves so seriously, Ethan Hunt is so earnestly righteous about saving the world, that subsequent plot twists and counter twists involving face and voice masks seem farcical. Plus Tom Cruise is always so Tom Cruisy. No matter what role he is playing you cannot forget that he’s Tom Cruise. My opinion is if you’re doing stuff that is technologically futuristic, and expect people to buy it, keep the tone light. Otherwise it won’t work, unless of course it’s sci-fi.

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