7 May 2013

Towering Above The Others

The Cold War for anyone unaware, was a prolonged state of political and military tension between the Eastern and Western Bloc which thankfully ended in 1991. I say that because for anybody who doesn't know, The Cold War just sounds like the on going mystical bitch fight between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. I know I shouldn't have to specify the difference between a fictional battle in Thor and that time humanity was almost nuked off the planet but you know... some people are thick.

I mention this only because Mission: Impossible was one of the first successful spy franchises to be launched after Mother Russia and Uncle Sam stopped their apocalyptic pissy fit. When the Nukes where put back in the box, spy films were left a little bit confused as to where they should now be playing. The first film in this series however got around the problem by making the enemy one of IMF's own spies. In fact, the second and third film also did this proving that for a gang of secret agents, they're all seriously shit judges of character. Three fucking films we've gotten through to get here and each one of them has revealed one of their own to be the main baddie. If we just shut the organisation down then the world would be a much safer place.

Russia called my mum a 'fat tart'?!
Well for the first time in the franchise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol does not feature an IMF agent as the main villain. In fact the bad guy this time around is just some random old bloke who for whatever reason wants to destroy the world. I don't remember his motive but to be fair thanks to my ingrained sense of misanthropy, I'm not completely against him. However, what is interesting, considering what we just talked about, is how his plan simply involves attempting to kick start a war between America and Russia. So he's really just like the kind of shit-starting slab of dick-dirt that spreads rumours about a couple down the pub to cause an argument… having said that, it's nice to feel nostalgic for that warm blanket of nuclear fear that I was born into. I was only two years old when the Cold War ended but in many ways I think the worry that my flesh could be burnt off at any second has really influenced my outlook on life.

Anywho, so the old bloke manages to blow up the Moscow Kremlin whilst simultaneously framing IMF. Because of this, their new boss informs them that the agency has thankfully been closed down and that they must work completely alone to unofficially finish the mission. So although this time they aren't against one of their own they have been out smarted by some mental ageing duffer with a death wish. Seriously this agency isn't just a waste of tax payers’ money but actually a threat to the survival of the fucking planet. Also, I say new boss because they don't half go through them. There was Angelina Jolie's Dad, Hannibal Lector, Morpheus and now Tom Wilkinson in what I assume is the espionage equivalent of The Defence against the Dark Arts job.

Welcome to the Crazy Face!
But despite all that Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is still amazing. After three films, I think we know now that this series works best at its silliest and when shoving stupidly crazy set pieces in our face. This time around the ridiculous death defying stunt of choice involves Tom Cruise scaling the side of the worlds tallest building like an ageing Peter Parker suffering a midlife crisis. In 2005 director Werner Herzog released the documentary Grizzly Man which showed video footage of a deranged animal lover who liked to tit about on his own in the wild. Sadly his love wasn't completely reciprocated by the cuddly bears there showed their gratitude for his presence by promptly biting his head off and eating him and his girlfriend. In their review of the film, Empire Magazine described it as, “the longest suicide note ever composed”, which is in my opinion something that could easily be applied to Cruise in the Mission: Impossible series. My theory is that it's the subconscious part of his mind trying to free itself from the pain caused by all that brainwashing that's been done back on the mothership of Scientology.

Presumably in an attempt to plan for his inevitable death however, we finally here have a Mission: Impossible film that focuses completely on the efforts of an IMF team. Not only that but we're introduced to a potential future lead with the presence of Jeremy Renner who I actually really liked. Since his career exploded with The Hurt Locker, he's been looking for a series to headline by appearing in pretty much every blockbuster he could get his freaky drumstick fingers on. Like a deranged chimp, he's consistently throwing shit like The Bourne Legacy and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters at a wall in the hope that something might stick. However after collecting so many franchises like a movie pimp, I think that the Mission: Impossibles might be the whore that finally pays out for him. If Cruise does either die or return to his home planet then I'd really like Renner to take over as the lead which would avoid the recasting issues faced by the Bond Franchise. As I've said before, I do prefer the adventures of 007 but even I have to admit that in Die Another Day, Bond was looking bloody good for a man who must have been well into his 70's.

Whilst we're talking about new people here, it's also worth noting the presence of director Brad Bird. Previously he'd only worked in animation, having helmed The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille and so this was his first venture into live action. For anyone who’s not seen Ratatouille by the way, it's basically a French-set story about some dirty, unlikeable, vermin who are taught to cook by a bunch of rats. Despite this being his first foray into the world of the flesh however, Bird does a great job by racking up the humour, tension, silliness and action. The film goes on a bit longer than maybe it should have done but it's forgivable just for the ridiculousness of the final battle. Without giving too much away it basically involves the bad guy fighting Cruise around around the steel bonnets of an unbelievably tall car factory. With an old man battling a sprightly midget in this metallic setting I couldn't help but reminded of Palpatine versus Yoda in Revenge of the Sith. 

Having now watched the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, I have to say that I love that each film has a different director. Not only that but each one of them brings a distinct style from De Palma's love of Hitchcock to John Woo's inability to make anything less than shit in English. This always brings a certain freshness to each new addition and will hopefully continue to allow the series to live on in the future. Directors I'd like to one day see have a go at one of these are Steven Soderbergh, Bryan Singer and just because every mainstream franchise needs a backwards speaking midget, maybe David Lynch.

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