Archive for August 3, 2019

The Impossible Takes A Little Longer…

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2019 by dcairns

…two hours and twenty-seven minutes in the case of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT.

I caught up with Christopher McQuarrie’s two MI films, a bit belatedly. The only thing I’d seen of his was THE USUAL SUSPECTS (THE USUALS, for short), which he wrote. And I dimly remembered that he had one of the two rival Alexander the Great biopics — evidently the wrong one got made.

This guy’s really skilled! He can move the camera to show what characters are thinking. His action is visually coherent, his blocking of normal dramatic scenes (there are a couple) is also dynamic and inventive. He steals from the best, with elan.

Of course, the exciting adventures of the International Monetary Fund Impossible Missions Force are still a step down from those of Alexander of Macedon, and I guess McQuarrie had to recalibrate his industry expectations during the twelve year gap between his directing debut and Tom Cruise giving him another chance with JACK REACHER. Cruise has spoken of wanting each film in this series to have it’s own distinctive director, though maybe that idea was born because Brian DePalma wa s such a grouch on the first film. McQuarrie has broken the mould by being asked back. The time might now be right for him to try something more serious because surely there are limits to what you can express through the medium of punching, kicking, shooting and chasing, in a glossy Bondian fantasy world? I know, it does sound like fun, and as far back as THE USUALS, McQuarrie ha s been inventing a kind of mythic world of unknowable, Mabusian supergeniuses…

The challenge DePalma faced with his entry was to turn a team-based TV show into a star vehicle for one guy, while keeping it nominally about a team. With the later entries, maybe the problem is how to make it feel like anything matters in a series where ludicrous shit is constantly being accomplished on the hoof.

Fiona, having watched Chernobyl, points out that you should never do this with a plutonium core.

“NOTHING in this film is real!” declared Fiona, midway through McQ’s 2nd MI joint. Not a complaint about the pervasive CGI jiggery-pokery (we know TC did enough of his own jumping to hurt one of his little legs, but the bike chase through Paris must have involved more head removals than the Thermidorian reaction — ironic, in a film where people keep swapping faces via those silly masks) but an admiring/exasperated response to the incessant narrative trickery. The “big store” cons so popular in the TV version haven’t been exploited this much in previous franchise entries, but they really go crazy with it here. But they don’t quite overdo it, even if the mission in this kind of hokum is to overdo everything in sight: unlike in OCEAN’S 11, where every moment of jeopardy was followed by a twist revealing that it was all part of the plan and everything was under control, which got monotonous and frustrating (you can, it seems, get TIRED of surprise).

Oh, and I like Rebecca Ferguson’s technique for fighting much bigger men: she climbs up them and hits them from above.

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