' ' Cinema Romantico: A Dead Reckoning Part One Toast

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

A Dead Reckoning Part One Toast

Ever since the two Christopher McQuarrie editions of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, “Rogue Nation” and “Fallout,” achieved the rare combination of box office breadwinning and critical veneration, it has become trendy in some social media quarters to express a preference for the pre-McQuarrie days, when the M:I franchise hitched itself to a new director each movie, rendering it as an auteur-driven franchise, for better or for worse. I don’t want to throw a wet blanket over all these views. Some are no doubt genuine! I am pro auteur! But I am compelled to disagree in this case. What, you wanted to hand “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”, released today, off to Todd Phillips? I prefer by a considerable margin the McQuarrie method in which he has put his stamp on the franchise by stepping away, in a manner of speaking, to center Tom Cruise, making it the stage of Hollywood’s singular stunt-doing madman. 

And while I think “Rogue Nation” overall might be the superior movie, I think there are a pair of moments in “Fallout” that most exquisitely define the McQuarrie touch. There is the HALO jumping scene, of course, which I have blabbered about before, and which I here, now, five years later, still can’t get over, because Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is not merely HALO jumping but HALO jumping into the club. But more than that, even, there is the scene of Cruise as IMF agent extraordinaire Ethan Hunt running across London.

The sequence exists on two levels at once. It is Ethan Hunt running, of course, in his ultimately fruitless pursuit of the bad guy, but it is also Tom Cruise running, and running, and running, running for us, his incessant locomotion an emblem of his devotion to all-out entertainment. Indeed, there comes a moment during Ethan’s electrifying pounding of pavement and rooftops when he swerves into an office building, needing to reach the roof of the building on the other side of the street, necessitating his smashing open a window with an office chair, and then stepping up to the ledge. 

As he does, he pauses for a moment and looks over his shoulder.

The gaggle of nameless clerical workers all stand at rap attention, gazing up at him, stand-ins for us, watching along in the movie theater, eagerly awaiting Ethan’s, er, Cruise’s next feat of strength. 

Like a tightrope walker stepping on to the wire, Cruise obliges. 

So. Here is to “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” watch it with all the mirth of Tom Cruise flying through the air, may we all be alive at this time next year to see Dead Reckoning Part Two. Cheers. 

No comments: