Attention Tom Cruise: You blew it.
Sorry, I hate having to be the one to break the news. But in a movie that otherwise delivers the goods, your "Mission: Impossible" left me upset, confused, and more than a little hurt. As producer of this movie (and of its inevitable sequels), I hope you will take the time to read my suggested opening scene for "Mission: Impossible II." That would go a long way toward getting me back on the M:I bandwagon.
I guess that's part of the problem. I'm from the old school. And while I have no problem with the concept of using old TV shows as the basis for a movie, I do have a problem when there is a lack of respect shown for the source material. And I fear in an effort to make yourself look heroic (which your Ethan Hunt character is already), you've let yourself be talked in to a bad decision. The ultimate bad guy in your movie needed to be the ultimate good guy. At the end of this film, there is room in the audience's heart to applaud and cheer both your Ethan Hunt and Jon Voight's nifty update of Jim Phelps. We desperately need to cheer for Phelps; he's the only tie we have to the concept of "M:I." The revelation that Phelps could and would turn against the I.M.F. is both out of character and illogical for one of the truly cool characters from TV history. When I walked out of the theater, I realized in a nutshell what was wrong: Jim Phelps was the bad guy ... and Kittridge (an effective Henry Czerny) was a good guy! Yikes! Their roles desperately needed to be reversed!
And boy, Emmanuelle Beart is kinda' wasted, huh? Plot mechanics means she also turns out to be bad. That's too bad; she added class and elegence to the team. All the trouble of learning to speak English, and it turns out, she has to be a villain. Oh, and her fate in the movie was unneeded. (Note to Mr. DePalma - Shot by her loving husband? Make sure the editors leave in the part where Jim Phelps decides his wife has betrayed him when you release the director's cut of the film.)
Still, though, the movie had more than its share of moments. I was sorry to see the I.M.F. get blown up so early in the film; they looked like quite the group. It's good to see Kristin Scott Thomas in a role quite different than "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Of course, I thought your new "team" was pretty cool too; especially Luther (Ving Rhames). (I'm told he was very cool in "Pulp Fiction." I'll let you know when I finally get around to seeing it.) And the "gag" at C.I.A. headquarters was a great set piece. That was what I wanted more of - missions that were really "impossible." I mean, the directive "follow a guy who we think is stealing" is much more a "Mission: Not Very Difficult, But Try Hard Anyway." Trailing a thief is a job for the Hardy Boys, not the I.M.F.
In short, I think there is still a lot to be done with this franchise. And in "Mission: Impossible II," shoot for reaching the same action highs this movie had, while adding a bit of heart, and maybe even a nod to the TV series. Oh, and find a new barber.
Just to get you started, I've written this suggested opening for "Mission: Impossible II." Please, steal it. I won't sue, I promise. But I think it would go a long way toward solving some of the problems left by the first movie. And yes, I am ready to accept more missions. Let's hope your budding franchise doesn't self-destruct for some time to come.
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