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What’s the Story?

Ethan Hunt is in a Russian prison for (possibly) murdering six Serbian assassins. His team break him out, then have four hours to break into the Kremlin to stop someone stealing (or find out who’s stealing; I forget) something to do with nukes. The bad guy has a nuke and is accumulating the last pieces he needs to start a nuclear war because he thinks that will make the human species better survivors.

What’s the Problem?

Inconsistency

MI:1 was a fairly straight spy thriller. Some action but not over-the-top. Most of the time was spent on espionage. Hunt never touches more than a pistol, and I can’t even remember if he ever fires it.

MI:2 was a ridiculous over-the-top action setpiece filmed in slow-motion in which Hunt shoots hundreds of bad guys with a pistol in each hand like in The Matrix.

MI:3 was a comfortable middle ground: it had enough action and cool gadgets, but they weren’t so unlikely to exist that they were implausible. Hunt used rifles, and looked like he actually knew how to fire them (rather than just holding guns in each hand and spraying bullets at his opponents. He actually, like, aimed them and stuff…). There was even office politics. After the second film, it felt almost real.

MI:4 is techno-gadget-pocalypse. There’s a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, ridiculous gadgets, absurd stunts. The final fight takes place on a robot-controlled parking lot. As in, cars are being brought forward by robots onto a central platform, which then lowers to the ground.

Up and down like a freaking yo-yo.

The problem is, when you go to a Mission Impossible film, you have no idea what kind of film it’s going to be. Go to a Bourne film and you can expect the same feel and tone as the others. Not so with the MI sequels.

 

The Gadgets

Early on, Hunt is told that all he has to stop WW3 is whatever is in the train carriage where his team is waiting. What he doesn’t mention is that the train carriage is Bond’s Q’s wet dream. It’s shiny steel, high-tech, and has everything in it that they could possibly need.

Including this car... Yeah, they're really slumming it in this film.

That’s okay, though, because they have to leave most of it behind. After that, it’s a low-tech race against time to stop the madman. They have to Macguyver solutions to seemingly impossible problems using only their wits.

Oh, wait, no it’s not. They conveniently brought every single gadget they could possiby need.

Did I mention that the car's windscreen is an interactive holographic display? Because it is.

 

The Gadgets

all break.

I tend to think that the elite special forces would be using reliable technology to save the world. There isn’t a single gadget they use in this film that doesn’t malfunction or break in some way. At first it’s quirky, but after the third time I began to wonder why they were even bothering to bring that crap. Just pack more guns.

 

The Stunts

have left any trace of realism behind. Most are ridiculous.

"I will now climb the tallest building in the world using these magic gloves and the strength of my arms. Not my legs, though, just the arms. I won't even be out of breath at the end."

The final fight in the robotic car park is an exercise in “how else can a robot knock the briefcase away to needlessly prolongue this fight”. Also, the final fight is Hunt vs a 60-year-old man. How does Hunt not tear him a new arsehole in the first four seconds?

 

WW3

The Russians blame the US for the destruction of the Kremlin which, on first look, is fine. There was a US spy team there so it makes sense to be annoyed. The US can’t acknowledge what their team was doing (or even that it was their team) without making it look like it was definitely them.

Oops. Our bad.

What doesn’t make sense is this: the US has no reason to attack the Russians and blow up the Kremlin. Surely there would be some diplomat somewhere who pointed this out to either side. Surely the US could slip the Russians the information that Hunt’s team found out without indicating where it came from. Then the Russians could investigate the bad guy as well.

So could the Americans, for that matter. Once Hunt is outed, it seems all investigation of the baddie is dropped by every other US intelligence organisation. It’s all on Hunt and his team. Why? Why would they leave it all to Hunt? They know this guy has a briefcase that lets him set off Russian nuclear missiles. He has a deal to buy the launch codes. Why not have everyone you can trying to stop him? Why only Hunt? Can’t you classify where the intel came from?

 

The Codes

Baddie gets the codes, has the suitcase to launch the missiles, just needs a satellite. Hunt and co construct an elaborate plan to get the satellite access codes off the guy that owns the satellite (also, why should the guy that owns the network have memorised them? Why bother? He has underlings to look after the satellite; he just swims in the pool of money) so they can stop the baddie.

"Yes, I'd like to request a nuclear missile. What? Yes, I'll hold."

Or they could just call Russia and tell them that someone has their nuclear missile launch codes. That would probably incite them to change the codes. Especially since Hunt had a copy of the codes and could read them out if the Russians didn’t believe him.

You really expect us to believe that if Hunt called the Kremlin (or whoever is taking over after it went boom) and started reading out nuclear missile launch codes they wouldn’t change them?

I can understand not phoning the Russians until the last second – because you want to catch the bad guy, not let him escape to try again tomorrow – but… really… Calling the Russians achieves the same result as seducing/interrogating the satellite owner and it’s quicker so there’s less chance of starting World War Three.

 

The Missile

gets fired and apparently makes it all the way to the US without anyone noticing. Does the US not have some kind of missile detection system? Did no one notice? Really? Is their missile defence system “find out what just blew up”?

 

The British

As a side-note, this is the second Mission Impossible film to feature a UK actor as Hunt’s superior. Sir Anthony Hopkins didn’t even bother putting on an American accent when he did MI:2. Have they run out of American actors or something? Or is it super-easy for UK residents to become part of the most secret covert force in the US?

 

What’s the Solution?

I did enjoy that they kept mentioning Hunt’s wife that he married at the end of the last film. It’s nice that they didn’t just completely forget her existence because it was a new film. Same with Luther: he’s not in most of the film, but they give him a cameo at the end. Not necessary, but a nice touch that they remember the past.

If you want to take this film seriously (as I did, given that MI:3 seemed to be trying to redeem the series and steer it back toward realism), there is no solution. As soon as you start thinking, it falls apart. There are other problems I haven’t even mentioned because they are spoilers.

If you want some silly mindless fun, though, there’s all the usual Mission Impossible/old Bond trademarks: big action, ridiculous plot contrivances, aerial nonsense from Tom Cruise, and gadgets, gadgets, gadgets.

Also, Simon Pegg makes everything better. He should be in all films.

Ah, dulls the pain.

 

Worth Seeing?

Eh. I was really hoping to give this one my stamp of approval but I’m nonplussed. There’s bigger and better mindless action films (Three Musketeers comes to mind), but if you want a dose of spy in there this is okay. Just make sure your brain is fully switched to the “off” position.

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One Comment

  1. Just one small corrective note: MacGyver.


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