Wednesday, August 01, 2018


When first-run movies play in theaters (you remember theaters), they’re always preceded by four or ten trailers. And the trailers are always movies geared to the same people who came to see this feature. So for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT we were bombarded with big CGI action and/or horror films. AQUAMAN (glug glug), something set in a post-apocalyptic world (snooze), and something that looked like LOST but scary (“Where are we? Aaaaaa, there’s weird people in a lab experimenting with us!”). MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT is a fun movie, and if these trailers are any indication of what’s in the pipeline, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is high art.

It’s pretty easy to review. You’ve seen some or all of the other MISSION IMPOSSIBLES? Think of the things you liked about them and this one has them, in some cases better and more exciting.

You know, Scientology would convert a lot more people if they said, “Join us and you’ll still look good at 56.” Tom Cruise appears almost ageless (although his face is getting a little puffy). You still totally buy him as an action hero. And you get so engrossed in the film that after a half-hour you stop thinking “He must be fucking nuts to support that insane religion.” Tom also does a lot of his own stunts, which is very impressive. And if the stunt is just too dangerous, the Church of Scientology forces Kirstie Alley to do it instead.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie knows how to ratchet up the suspense, get every last ounce out of every action sequence, and deliver a totally rollicking thrill ride. This shouldn’t be surprising. He won an Academy Award for the screenplay of THE USUAL SUSPECTS. The big question is: How could this be the same guy who last year wrote THE MUMMY?

MI: 6 (as hipsters or anyone who reads ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY call it) is sleek, filled with international locales. It’s James Bond for people who have never heard of Sean Connery… or Roger Moore. And it has the famous Lalo Schiffrin theme song. It’s worth seeing just for the opening and closing credits. I know you can’t wait for AQUAMAN, which looks like BRAVEHEART meets THE LITTLE MERMAID, but in the meantime, if you like summer popcorn movies that have death-defying stunts and Wolf Blitzer, go see MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT. Tom Cruise saves the world. If only we could get someone to save Tom Cruise.


Xenu said...

I love action movies and exciting stunts.

But I will not be watching this. I will not put money into the pocket of a man who supports a brainwashing cult that scams millions out of its members, rips apart families with their evil disconnection policy,stalks and terrorizes critics and former members, and uses children as slave labor.

Cruise himself is an SOB. Google what he had done to his niece. He was offended at seeing her kissing her boyfriend in his house and he had her shipped across the country to a Scientology punishment camp known as the RFP.

Google Cruise and Nazanin Boniadi. She was auditioned to be his girlfriend. When Cruise felt she had disrespected him, he had her receive punishment that comprised getting on her knees and cleaning dirty floors with a toothbrush.

Fuck him and his movie.

Rick Hannon said...

I came to "By Ken Levine" TWICE today before today's post went up. Do I win anything?

Andrew said...

That was a perfect review. Thanks, Ken.

I saw it and loved it. But as always with these types of movies, when you start to think about it after the excitement is over, it makes absolutely no sense at all. ("Fridge logic," as defined by TV Tropes.) All you have to ask is, "Couldn't they have come up with an easier way to accomplish their goal, instead of __?" I won't give any examples so as to avoid spoilers, but let's just say the suspension of disbelief has to be dialed up to 11.

Still, great entertainment from beginning to end.

Mike Doran said...

I have a kind of block against these Mission movies, based on my memory of the old TV series.

The series was about ingenuity: the team would scam their targets - get them to do themselves in, so to speak.

The current film franchise is a Tom Cruise vanity vehicle: they're all about how brilliant Tom Terrific is, and how he always manages to Breach the Impregnable Whatever, without dislodging his hair.

I think I'd have possibly liked them somewhat if the first one TC did hadn't trashed the style and format of the old series; or, failing that, they'd come up with another title for it.

That said, I might give this new one a try - although I've heard that the running time is about two and a half hours, which challenges the limits of my bladder (lately, anyway).

Y. Knott said...

I have never, and will never, see any Mission Impossible movie. I absolutely cannot stand Tom Cruise -- or Scientology.

John Nixon said...

I think that the Mission Impossible movies with Tom Cruise are some of the most exciting, entertaining movies of all time....and, as technology advances, they get better each time a new one is released. The state of the art of movie making is at a really high level and movies like these really showcase the capabilities of the artists who create them.

I haven't seen this new one yet but I will see it soon and then probably watch it again once it gets to a movie network.

Whatever Tom Cruise chooses to do in his personal life is none of my concern and has nothing to do with this movie. I just want to be entertained by a quality performance. The Mission Impossible movies definitely do the trick!

VP81955 said...

I'm no Tom Cruise fan, and I agree with Mike Doran's comment that the film series runs counter to its more cerebral TV counterpart, but does your disdain for Scientology (which I share) prevent you from watching a sitcom starring Jenna Elfman, or "Orange Is The New Black" with Laura Prepon?

Y. Knott said...

VP81955: In my case, yes. I have not watched, nor will I watch, Orange Is The New Black. And if there's a new sitcom with Jenna Elfman or Kirstie Alley or John Travolta in it? I won't be there to see it.

It's partly because I don't want to line the pockets of Scientology. And it's partly because I quite simply cannot enjoy the performances of these actors, knowing what I know about their support of the odious Scientology organization. It's really no different than being unwilling to watch, say, the comedy of Bill Cosby (who I once really, really enjoyed) in a modern context.

(And actually, I never could stand Tom Cruise, even before I knew he was a Scientologist. His smarmy attempts at acting have always rubbed me the wrong way...)

Janet Ybarra said...

You want a series like that with the inguinity you spoke of? Try re-runs of LEVERAGE...a crew of thieves and grifters brought together by a mastermind (Timothy Hutton) to fight for good guys who are being taken advantage of by the rich and powerful. Awesome series. Currently on Ion TV. Ran for four or five seasons.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I grew up watching the T.V. series. So, I agree with Mike Doran. The original was more about the team. Even Peter Lupus got his bits. But, the thing about the movies is that they just aren't very good. One time M.I.2 was on cable. I was watching with my cousin. I was calling out plot points two or three minutes before they happened. My cousin finally asked, "Have you seen this before?" I told him "NO, I hadn't" It's just that the writing was so hackneyed that It was incredibly easy to predict what was coming next. Maybe MI:6 is better. But, you really don't go to see an action movie like this one for brilliant writing. As for Scientology, I'm not a fan. But, Tom Cruise has the constitutional right to practice as he chooses.

CRL said...

Even Peter Lupus got his bits.

"Willy, your job is to pick up that heavy object and carry it to the truck".

Brent said...

After the first Mission Impossible movie came out, they interviewed Greg Morris and asked him what he thought of it. He said he walked out of the theater. He hated it. The TV show was an ensemble using brains and deception, and the movie was stunts, stunts, and more stunts. No brains.

Don't get me started on Scientology and their members.

YEKIMI said...

Usually, the Mission Impossible movies do a good business at my theater but this turkey is bombing big time. Don't know why; maybe smarter people have moved into the area. Maybe it's the Scientology crap, maybe it's other religions leaders telling their pigeons.....errr, flock "Do not go see this evil man's movie!", maybe it's the length of the movie....yes, it's a couple of minutes shy of 2 1/2 hours. I should have been selling Depends at the theater door entrance.

Tammy said...

Not a fan of actors doing their own stunts. Seems it's mostly to serve their egos, and I'd imagine it slows production down - certainly if they get injured. Instead of doing their own stunts, how about they get their own coffee. Now that would be impressive.

"If only we could get someone to save Tom Cruise." Ouch. They say he (and others) can never get out because of all the dirt they have on him from auditing sessions. It's so silly - surely nothing he's done could be as bad as knowingly serving an evil organization? (Well, it could, but I doubt that's the case.)

McAlvie said...

I saw and liked the first one okay as an action film, but like other commenters, I didn't like how it disrespected the original series. The 2nd one was just strange, IIRC, with a lot of gratuitous slo-mo that annoyed me. I'm not even sure I saw any others. Maybe I'll give this one a go when it moves to cable, which will probably be next week given the speed with which it usually happens.

As for TC, I am rather sad that this is what is career has come down to. He actually did do a few quite good movies in the early years before he became an Action Jackson wannabe. Is that fall out (pun not actually intended, but still amusing) from the weirdness of his personal life?

The original series was fun because it was all about the job. But that was mumblemumble years ago, and I don't know how well they aged. I have noticed that in the intervening years some kind of metamorphosis happens and great shows become campy. Clearly an archiving issue, because I'm sure I had really good taste as a kid. But everything has to be angsty these days. They even managed to ruin MacGyver.

Chris in Cowtown said...

Re: Aquaman.
How much crime can occur underwater anyways?

powers said...

Needed more nifty gadgets.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Loved the movie. And I finally learned that Tom does nearly all of his stunt work, but, man alive, if Tom would only apply the same evidentiary discipline to his selection of religion as he seems to do in analyzing the risks in his stunts, I think he'd leave the Scientologists in his rear view mirror.

Personally, my savior is George Carlin. I think he's coming back...

This video of Tom and James Corden is so entertaining:

Cap'n Bob said...

I cannot abide the Smirking Dwarf and wouldn't spend a penny on his wares. But then, you knew that.

Lemuel said...

My interest in Mission Impossible started when Leslie Ann Warren joined and ended when she was replaced by Phyllis George.

Coram_Loci said...

Having viewed but one movie — the one where he is swimming in an underwater tank, having to remove or replace some doodads — I’ve had my fill.

The character was too good. I was rooting for him to die.
I can sense the same thing happening with Rey in The Last Jedi.

Mike Doran said...

Note to Janet Ybarra:

I already tried Leverage, when it was in its first run.

I liked it so much, I bought the DVD sets, new.

There they all are, up on my shelf - whenever I need them.

So there too.

*and whatever happened to Beth Riesgraf?*

therealshell said...

Jeepers, a lot of Tom Cruise hate/dislike on here. I haven't seen a Mission Impossible movie since the one directed by John Woo. I try not to hate anyone, personally, but there are a few posters on here that I cannot abide, and wish that I could block, like on other platforms. Beth Riesgraf is "In Limbo" a film that was being filmed last year (if you believe the IMDB people). It also features a Scientologist, so many punters on here will be giving it a pass, I wager.

Janet Ybarra said...

LEVERAGE has become one of my all time favorites. I'm not usually one for "reboots" but if they want to reboot something, why not LEVERAGE.

I thought Gina Bellman was just super. And having been a fan of Christian Kane on ANGEL, it was great to see him again on LEVERAGE.

And now I'm really dating myself, but I remember Kevin Tighe playing a nice guy paramedic on EMERGENCY in the 70s. To see him as ultimate bad guy on LEVERAGE was a real stunner. Proved the man can act.

Janet Ybarra said...

Appros of Scientology, apparently they are trying to get ahead of their PR. Heard an ad on the radio today they are launching a SiriusXM radio channel or something, the "Scientology Network". Thought that was kind of weird.

Personally, never a big fan of L Room Hubbard's work in general. You want to read a real trippy sci-fi writer? Try Philip K. Dick.

E. Yarber said...


When I first came to California I knew only a couple of people and they were way up north so I wound up going to this weekly meeting in a Berkeley church where people just showed up and talked on beanbag chairs. There was an older woman there who seemed to stare at me too long. When I spoke she'd act surprised and say, "That's just what my old boyfriend always said!" or "My old boyfriend used to talk like that!" I had to wonder if she was trying to come on to me, constantly identifying me with this guy she'd been with.

Finally she said, "Maybe you heard of my old boyfriend. He was a writer. Philip K. Dick."

gottacook said...

One of the early Philip K. Dick stories I've read is the post-apocalyptic "The Turning Wheel" (1954). Per Wikipedia, "Above all is the god/messiah, the Bard 'Elron Hu' (that is to say, 'Elron Hu, Bard'), whose spiritual plan involves one becoming 'clear' - an obvious jab at L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, the self-help book that had been released a few years before."

Dianetics actually began as a "nonfiction" article in Astounding Science Fiction magazine, which had been publishing Hubbard's fiction since 1938:

Not many people know that all through the 1950s, Dick wrote realist novels as well, which failed to sell; only one was published during his lifetime (1975) but all of them, eight or nine I think, are now in print.

Loosehead said...

OK, big fan of Beth Riesgraf, who I call Bendy Girl. I could stand to see a lot more of her...

I'm sorry. I seem to be channelling Sid the Sexist again.

Barry Traylor said...

Did you know that the church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard who was a writer for the pulp magazines in the 1930's and 1940's? Actually he called it dianetics at the beginning. No matter what it is called it is a lot of baloney. But, I enjoy Cruise's movies and it is my money and I will spend it the way I like.

Joe Menta said...

The MI movies are clearly action and star vehicles for Tom Cruise. And that’s fair; who said they had to totally replicate the formula of the TV series? But they haven’t entirely abandoned the beats of the show. There is still teamwork, and clever scams to get the enemy to work against his or her own interest. This one has a really good scam that plays out under the streets of London or Paris (I forget); in fact, it’s pivotal, as it finally reveals who the real antagonist is.

Janet Ybarra said...

There is a a comprehensive library of all of Philip Dick's writing, including manuscripts, at Cal State Fullerton, I believe.

The pay service Epix also offers an interesting documentary of his life. It uses animation of Dick while he is speaking in audio recordings made for a 1975 Rolling Stone profile. Worth checking out.

McAlvie said...

Another Leverage fan, here. It was a very satisfying series the whole way 'round, including the final episode. Fun characters, fun premise. I became a big fan of everyone involved. I don't know about a whole reboot, probably too much to ask for; but an occasional movie length feature reuniting the cast would be fun if it was on cable where the networks couldn't ruin it with too many commercial breaks.

MikeN said...

My viewing had a trailed which I thought was going to be a reboot of Jaws, but instead is called The Meg.

Not sure how I will feel on reviewing, but at the time, I couldn't get past a glaring plot hole about a third of the way in. Why is a character X needed for Y, beyond preventing a hard choice?

I was predicting an alternative thing to happen during some scenes, so I completely fell for a misdirection near the end of the movie.

On an unrelated note, Leverage is a poor man's Hustle.

Mike Doran said...

Follow-ups, of sorts:

- Just after Leverage closed down, Beth Riesgraf turned up on Criminal Minds, in an arc where she was posited as a possible romantic interest for MG Gubler; regrettably, the character was killed off (the Coward's Way Out), so there too.

- Since Emergency! shut down, I can't recall Kevin Tighe ever playing a good guy (at least since he ditched his toupee).
The earliest one I recall was John Sayles's Eight Men Out, in which Tighe played one of the Broadway gamblers who helped underwrite the 1919 Black Sox World's Serious Fix. (He really wore the WWI men's wear quite well …).

- Many of the books I've read about Hollywood stars of yore tend to be pretty unsparing about some very seamy behaviors among them.
If I used these kinds of draconian judgments, I'd never see a movie or TV show again.
So far - I haven't.
At my advanced age, I probably never will.
Just shake your head and move along …

Greg Ehrbar said...

@Chris in Cowtown re: "How much crime can occur underwater anyways?"

Clearly, you have never watched Bubble Guppies.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Like another commenter I really liked the early seasons of Mission Impossible on TV - and now I wonder how well those hold up?

My generally policy is to stay well clear of most "remakes" - unless there is strong evidence that it proved worthy.

Good remakes (IMO):

Get Smart (Anne Hathway was the bait for this)

The Addams Family (perhaps the best of all TV remakes)

Dragnet (second place)

Serenity (remake of the short-lived Firefly)

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

Wikipedia has a nice entry with a list:

Does anyone recommend:

The Pink Panther (Steve Martin) - I KNOW - not a TV show - but an example of extreme hubris - who could follow Peter Sellers?

The Avengers

The Beverly Hillbillies (which is smart in early-season DVD-reissues)

Dark Shadows (which was cool when I was eight years old)

Any of the Flintstone remakes (wow, five remakes)

Gilligan's Island (three!)

The Honeymooners

L.A. Law

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Mod Squad

The Munsters

Boris and Natasha: The Movie

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Jahn Ghalt said...

I give no weight to Cruise's religion (nor to Woody Allen's marriage to the once-very-young Soon Yi).

I therefore enjoyed a few "recent" films by him:

the (2) Jack Reachers,
and the top-notch Valkyrie.

I give a great deal of thanks for the Trailer for the first Mission Impossible - which I regarded as fair warning.

Curious many years later, I watched on cable "MI-2", which was entertaining at first, not the least for the almost impossibly gorgeous lead-actress in that film. One hour in, finding that I cared nothing about anything in that film, I picked up a good book and went to bed.

Jay Jones said...

Tom Cruise is just too old to play these parts any more. He looks great for his age, but he’s past 55 and his face is starting to fall.

Oh, and the second Jack Reacher movie is the worst movie (I’m embarrassed to say) that I’ve ever seen.