Say, that wasn’t bad. Lots of action, chase scenes and things getting blowed up real good, which was pretty much what I signed up for. Pity about the plot, though: it felt hugely derivative, patched together from half a dozen other movies (the bit with the wife getting caught up in her husband’s spy world, for example, could have come from True Lies; Ethan’s guilty flashbacks about Lindsey’s death and his eventual redemption as a teacher when his wife kicks ass; Musgrave’s ultimate plan of American domination; the mysterious “Rabbit’s Foot” as doomsday biological weapon; other plot points that just feel so damn familiar). I’m not sure I buy the reveal that Musgrave and not Brassel is the bad guy, but maybe the clues did add up so I’ll suspend judgment for now. And I did appreciate that, unlike the previous movies, the IMF field team worked as a team, instead of being All Tom Cruise, All The Time. Other good points? A surprising amount of eye candy for all preferences. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is very pretty, and looked good with his shirt off. Maggie Q is very pretty and looked good in that slinky red dress.
Cruise, sad to say, was not eye candy. Oh, he doesn’t look bad, and he’s toned up some since that shirtless scene in Minority Report, but… he’s just not as young as he used to be. (Which is not a bad thing in itself; Scott Bakula and Richard Dean Anderson, to name just two, are both over fifty and still scorching.) I used to think Cruise was hot, back in his Top Gun days, but that ship has sailed, baby. The funny thing is that I’m guessing Cruise knows this but, instead of aging gracefully, he overcompensates with the manly motorcycle and leather jacket. And the endless running scenes. And the four or five separate shirtless scenes. And the girls at his party swooning over him. All to show through Ethan Hunt that Tom Cruise has Still Got It. Or am I reading too much into this? Should I not be creeped out that his movie fiancée looks so much like his real-life beard womb-for-hire fiancée, that they (the movie characters) have this perfect storybook romance, and that his (fictional) in-law family totally adores him?
Okay, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this is just part of the derivative plot and not Cruise acting out the life he wishes he had (or wishes people believed he had). The fact remains that Tom Cruise, himself, is creepy and scary as hell. Maybe I’m more aware of it since he started behaving like the insane little cultist freak he is, but Cruise was always… on. No matter what his lines were, no matter what emotion he was supposed to convey, he always had that feral glint in his eye, that intensity, that frozen grin, indicating (1) this was Tom Cruise acting, and (2) he was just a heartbeat away from going for your jugular or ranting off about Scientology.
But let’s end on a positive note: do you know what the Shanghai scenes reminded me of? The Hong Kong scenes in Deus Ex, with the homey little apartment set against the brightly lit, ultramodern skyscrapers, Hunt following obscure clues just like you would in an RPG computer game. Didn’t see that one coming, but it made me smile. I half-expected Hunt to wear shades at night and look for Tracer Tong or the Dragon’s Tooth instead of the Rabbit’s Foot (which I thought sorta looked like a nanotech augmentation canister. Or maybe an Ambrosia container). And when he called the techie guy for help, wasn’t that kind of like the scene where Alex Jacobson gives JC Denton pass keys and other vital info so he can escape and destroy UNATCO’s evil bosses? Man, what a great game. Style for days, and more plot in each level than M:I:III has in its entire production. And I know this is a horribly cheap shot, but JC Denton could kick Ethan Hunt’s ass any day of the week.